Hello! Welcome to Friday.
It’s Fiction Fridays #7!
Now that my family has gotten over The Plague, I have it. I almost didn’t put anything up today at all..but I created Fiction Fridays for a reason! And that reason was to make me WRITE FICTION at least once a week. So it’s short this week, and written through the haze of headache and bodyache and all sorts of aches, but it’s here.
I love all the well wishers of the world! You’re so kind. But: If you’re leaving a comment on the post, please please please say something about the fiction, and not just “I hope you get better soon, etc.” Fiction Fridays is my way of taking back my life, if even for just a day. It’s about something I love and loved before I was ever abused. It’s not something that has happened TO me (like abuse, or sickness, etc) but something I am actively DOING. While I appreciate your support (I really do) for Fridays, please comment on the fiction. If you have nothing to say about the story but feel compelled to comment, then please share this somewhere that it can be seen by potential contest entrants, and let me know where that was!
I don’t have a new writer to share with you this week because nobody entered the Fiction Fridays 6 writing prompt. That makes me sad. And suspicious. All you people leaving comments about the prompt inspiring you…hmmmm…
I hope you like this week’s prompt better. I LOVE showcasing other writers and bloggers! Since I don’t have any other writing to share this week, I will take this space to share a little more about Maria. Maria is a mama living with Postpartum Depression. She was kind and brave enough to be my first Parenting with Mental Illness interviewee. You can read her story right here. If you haven’t yet, I suggest you do. It’s pretty eye-opening.
I also opened a fundraiser for Maria, to help her continue to get access to care for her PPD. She has had it for about two years, but has only been able to get care for one month. Already, the expense has been hefty. As anyone who is raising kids on a singe-income (and she has three) knows, any added expense can be a tremendous stress. Extra stress is the last thing Maria needs right now. Her husband will be away for work soon, which leaves Maria alone with PPD and three kids. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could her get some funds for therapy or maybe a babysitter? She does not have any family or anyone around to help her while her husband is away. Although Maria did not ask me to open this fundraiser, I know that she could really use the help.
Guess what? I did some maths…and realized something pretty amazing! If everyone who visited Betty’s Battleground in one day donated just $10, we would exceed the fundraiser goal in less than a day. Wow! I know that there are times when even $10 is hard to come by. I parent with a mental illness too and as a result have no income and don’t even have a bank card with which to make a donation. If you’re in that boat with Maria and I, then would you help by sharing her fundraiser? If you’re not; if giving away $10 won’t overdraft your bank account, could ya please do it? Would you please donate just $10 to Maria’s Care Fund and ensure that she continues to be able to access the care she needs to recover from her PPD while her husband is away? I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s the link:
Thank you in advance for reaching out across the intarwebs and helping this brave young mama overcome a debilitating circumstance that she did not ask for or deserve.
And now, for some fiction…
Fiction Fridays #7
Just Another Morning
Cindy woke to a smack in the face.
She opened her eyes, slowly, the room dragging into focus as she succumbed to consciousness.
Another smack. Gentle, not painful, except where it made her eyes spark. Those small stings, there and then gone, were enough. Rage swelled within her. There was a moment when she could have jumped off that crest, let it die down within her, but she was too tired, too bleary, too weighted by emotions; it wasn’t so easy to just jump off.
“Gabriel,” she snapped. “Stop hitting me.” She swiped her hand out. She had just meant to stop his hand before he smacked her again, that’s really what she’d meant, she was sure of it, but her knuckles clipped his soft brown cheek instead.
“Oh Gabriel,” she knelt to him, shaking off the sheets, shaking off the sleepiness that she wanted only to keep tucked around her, “it was an accident.” She tried to put her arms around the boy, but he only howled louder and pushed her away with a stubborn grunt. She smacked the floor next to him. The sound made him catch his tears for a moment. He stared at her, waiting for what came next.
“I know it didn’t hurt that much.” She grabbed his round little body and tucked it into her lap. He placed his head against her chest, tiny hiccupping whimpers wracking his small naked chest.
Cindy rocked the boy, and herself, slowly. She stared blankly at the space behind the door. A dust bunny twitched in the corner. Cindy felt impossibly heavy, like someone had attached anchors to her limbs as she slept. Deep in the pit of her belly an emptiness swirled. As each waking moment brought her deeper into reality, the emptiness grew. She knew that by nightfall she would be nothing but a hole trapped in the body of a woman.
The baby’s thin wail rose from the bed behind her. She stood up too quickly, forgetting Gabriel, who tumbled to the floor.
“Mama,” he yowled. And there they were again, those full fat tears. How could a person even make tears that fast?
“I’m sorry, “Cindy said, harsh, whispering. She picked up the baby. “Ssh, ssh,” she begged. She hadn’t even had any coffee yet.
The pitch of Gabriel’s cries lifted into something piercing, inhuman, a sound of torture.
The baby, redfaced, began to flail her head back and forth against Cindy’s breast. She pushed her head harder and harder against Cindy’s chest, hurting her, trying to move away the cloth of Cindy’s nightshirt with her cheek. When it didn’t work, the baby opened her mouth so wide it seemed she was only a mouth on a body, and shrieked with all the effort her lungs could allow.
Gabriel threw himself to the floor and began to beat his limbs up and down, up and down. The tattoo of childish rage thumped and thumped; keeping the beat of the screaming choir.
Cindy began to cry.
Her tears were soft, hopeless; the tears of woman who knew that no one would ever hear her.
As she sunk to the floor, crumpling over herself, a guttural moan arose from deep within her. It was a sound without thought behind it, a sound she didn’t even realize she was making. She heard the moan, and was frightened by it, because it sounded like the echo of every secret grief she harbored within her, and it seemed to her that if it was out being voiced and heard in the world that everyone could know her secrets; the secret ways in which this world had wounded her that she had never told. Tears spilled down her cheeks, dewing the baby’s eyelashes and mixing in with her small tears.
The bend of Cindy’s body allowed her shirt-neck to fall open. The baby nuzzled onto Cindy’s rosy nipple. A sigh rushed through her entire tiny body, and her eyes rolled in her head with pleasure as the milk began to flow.
Gabriel snatched a lime green binkie from beneath the bed and popped it into his mouth. Grinning around the binkie, his tears all magically evaporated, he crawled over to his mama and wrapped his arms as full around her as he could. The toddler rested his head against her soft shoulder.
Now it was only Cindy left crying. The moan filled the room with its weird, nightmarish sonance. The baby peered up at her from her breast. Gabriel didn’t look. He just held onto her while she cried her inconsolable grief, gripping tight as he could so that he would not lose his place to her shuddering.
Close to 1 million women are diagnosed with Postpartum Depression in the United States alone. Because there is currently no universal screening test in place, and not all women may receive a diagnosis or help, that number could be much higher. Cindy’s morning is fictional, but Maria’s interview is very real. Please, I urge you, if this story moved you in any way, to also read Maria’s interview and donate even just $10 to her fundraiser today!
Your prompt for Fiction Fridays 7 is simple: Write a story that begins with the sentence “[Your character’s name] woke to a smack in the face. Try to make the outcome, reason, or delivery of the smack surprise your reader.
To submit your 300-1,000 word creative writing exploration of the prompt, “like” the Betty’s Battleground Facebook page and drop your submission as a comment on the “Fiction Fridays 7” post. I’ll pin it to the top of the page to make it easy on you! I look forward to reading your entries! Good luck!
Shares are always appreciated! I am working hard to grow my audience and reach my genuine readership; 30 seconds of sharing out of your day would totally make mine! Please take a moment to share this on the social media platform(s) of your choosing.
Til next time!