It’s so exciting to be writing again. I’m sure I should be doing a thousand other things, but it’s so nice to be writing. And to have such great prompts to write to – this one is from Bekindwrite’s Inspiration Monday series. After yesterday’s darkness, there’s a patch of light in today’s story. I’d love to hear what you think of it.
And while I’ve got your attention, here’s wishing you a fantastic Christmas, whether you celebrate it or not!
A History In Scars
Gerry traced a finger across Ellen’s stomach. Blue lines like tiger stripes coursed down her flesh, but it was the horizontal white one that caught his attention. The tiger stripes were slightly softer than the skin around them; this one was the opposite – a firmer ridge under his finger. He tried not to dwell on it.
He could stretch his hand out and cover the entire thing. That’s how small a newborn is. Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. He loved kids; he’d love to raise some of his own with Ellen. And he had long since accepted that dating at his time of life often involved ready-made families, but in almost six months together Ellen had never made any mention of having a child. She lived with her parents and little sister, Hope: a five year old late-arrival into the family on whom Ellen and her parents doted.
Ellen shifted under his touch. “Go on,” she whispered. “Ask.”
Ellen remembered that day in a haze of sadness and pain. She’d gone for a routine scan, but the doctor said her baby’s heart was slow and they needed to get it out. She’d been in surgery less than an hour later, her mother holding her hand, her father pacing outside.
“It’s just like when you were born,” her mother had said softly, a smile on her lips but tears in her eyes. It was, of course, nothing like when Ellen was born. It should be the baby’s father pacing outside, not the mother’s.
Ellen turned her head to face Gerry. “I know you want to.”
“It’s OK,” he replied, looking away from her face. A second white line appeared there. Not like the clean incision he’d been touching; this one was jagged and angry. It slashed up her cheek, over her eye and stopped in the middle of her forehead. He knew this scar well – he had seen it every time they met and he’d heard the story of the man who put it there. Gerry was delighted when Ellen had finally agreed to spending the night together. She had every reason never to trust a man again.
Last night, over dinner, he’d been amazed at how much her family saw past the scar, even Hope, who couldn’t have ever known Ellen without it. They all saw the beautiful woman behind it. That was the Ellen he saw too, the one he had fallen in love with. Unlike his ex-wife, who was flawless on the outside, Ellen kept her perfection hidden away.
“I want to tell you,” she said. “It was him. My ex. He gave me two things to remember him by – two scars.”
“What happened to the baby?” Gerry asked softly. “Did you have it adopted?”
“I was going to, but when they took her out, she wasn’t breathing.”
Gerry let out his breath slowly. “Perhaps it was for the best,” he said. He couldn’t imagine how Ellen would have felt raising the baby of an abusive partner.
“She fought so hard to be with us, I couldn’t let her down after that.”
Gerry felt the breath catch in his throat again, but he waited. Ellen would tell him when she was ready.
“Hope.” Ellen whispered. “When she’s old enough to understand, I’ll tell her. Perhaps she will want to stay with me.”
“With us,” said Gerry, pulling Ellen towards him. “If you’ll both have me.”
14 responses to “Inspiration Monday – A History In Scars”
Wow, just wow to this!
Wow, thank you!
Thank you for penning this!
This is a feel good story… and I mean that in a good way, Jen. (And it makes up for yesterdays, oh so sad one)
Thank you, Ted, I take it in a good way too. Whatever horrors we go through, the human species has an incredible capacity for recovery.
Excellent. Almost lost for words. What an emotional rollercoaster!
I have a gut feeling that this would make an excellent basis (and finale) for a slightly longer short story – the sort of length I read in published short story compilations. The stuff about Ellen’s ex belongs in past tense but some more Gerry/Ellen build-up plot could be explored as separate present tense scenes, perhaps?
Sorry if this is back-seat driving! 🙂
Don’t apologise, Stuart, I agree it could be a longer piece. That would give the opportunity to separate the introduction of Hope from the revelation, and make Gerry’s love but concerns clearer too. Maybe 2014 should be the year of going back to some stories like this and expanding them. Thanks for the vote of confidence!
What a beautiful love story. Love on all fronts.x
Ah, I saw it coming, but it still gave me that lump in my throat! What a fitting name – Hope.
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You are brilliant. Hurry up and write a killer novel. It will work.
I’m working on it, Doug. Thank you!
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Touching, sensitive stuff. Moving. Well done.