#12 The Red Veil

by C. Sonberg Larson

I spread clotted cream on the scones and lick my fingers.

Mother slaps me. “No man wants a pig as a wife! This suitor is wealthy. You want your mother to be able to stay in her home, don’t you?”

“Yes.”

“Go change. He’ll be here soon.”

I tiptoe across the gleaming checkered tiles I’d scrubbed earlier, ascend the staircase to my room, and peel off my housedress.

Mother enters. “Raise your arms.” She tugs a clean gown over my head, then arranges my hair. “Act like a lady,” she hisses through gritted teeth.

Lady. I draw in a shallow breath as I recall the doctor’s visit.

“Can you fix her?” Mother had asked.

The doctor regarded me with disdain. “Yes.” He gestured toward the table. “Lie back and open your legs.”

I shrieked when the doctor thrust a cold, sharp object inside of me.

“Shut up! This wouldn’t be happening if you’d behaved like a lady,” he spat.

I cried through the excruciating procedure.

“Was it successful?” Mother asked afterward.

“She will bleed on her wedding night,” he replied.

Mother forbade me to utter a word about the matter. “You don’t want your own mother out on the street, do you?”

“No.”

Who could I tell? No one would believe what Poppa did to me those nights.

The doorbell rings.

Mother races forward, then turns back. “Say exactly what I told you to say.”

I hear my name, descend the stairs, and walk toward the silhouette in the foyer.

19 comments:

Tina M. said...

Powerful piece. Well done!

Deb said...

I'm with Tina - powerful. It says so much in a few words.

Lisa Pellegrini said...

Heart-wrenching and explosive, the way you juggle so many raw emotions here. A truly gripping piece indeed!

C Sonberg Larson said...

Thank you Tina, Deb, and Lisa.

Anonymous said...

This is a super, gripping piece. Very creative use of the flash fiction prompt. Certainly not what one expects from the picture.

Jeff said...

This work from the provided image is truly riveting. With so few words, the intensity was such I had to read it through several times. Amazing job!

Hobo Annie said...

Such elegant prose. In a single minute I was yanked from my seat, taken to a different world, shocked, horrified, saddened and returned back to my own chair. Very powerful piece.

Nancy said...

It's amazing the emotion you convey in such a short piece. And given the photo prompt, it is especially unexpected. Great work!

Maria Cisneros Toth Blog said...

At first, I'm wondering why is everyone so abusive to this poor girl. Then the punch line hits the reader in the gut. Powerful and excellent writing. Stands alone without the photograph.

Marissa <> said...

Great Peice. So powerful. A rush of feelings rush through me as I read it. Very intense. Awesome Job!

Jonathan Riley said...

Nice job tapping into the emotions. The only tiny qualm I may have is the repetition of: “You don’t want your own mother out on the street, do you?”
It's so close to what she's already said and while the repetition may add to the mother's paranoia in a longer piece, here I think you could had used that space for more words. Maybe even to show the reader how the narrator feels about all that's happened to her.

Melissa C. said...

Wow! What a deep and thought provoking piece. There are so many intense emotions conveyed in relatively few words. Fantastic job!

M. Rachele Carapali said...

Hooked in from Word One. Masterful!

XXOO

C Sonberg Larson said...

Thank you everyone for the kind words and comments. It means so much coming from other authors.

Anonymous said...

Wow...my stomach was in knots reading it! I can only imagine what the entire story will bring! GREAT WORK!!!

C Sonberg Larson said...

Jonathan Riley,

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I want you to know that the mother's similar remarks and constant belittling were intentional. The whole point of the story is to show how completely powerless and voiceless this girl is and how she is used by everyone around her.
Thanks

CR said...

The image of the narrator having scrubbed those stairs stayed with me. A heart-rending piece of writing here.

Vernon said...

Blunt and powerful. An economy of words but a torrent of emotion. As so many before have said, a truly gripping piece of work.

terry said...

Strong, tense, and filled with emotion. Nice work.