NaNoWriMo Teaser: Fault Lines

Our third NaNoWriMo week is upon us…therefore another snippet:
This one, again very unedited…is harder to give you. I make no apologies for the nature of the excerpt, I write what I know, but please bear in mind this is fiction.
You need to know that Meg is fourteen and troubled, her mother is depressive and Meg hadn’t realised how bad things had become. She sneaked upstairs to find her mum and saw her mother cut herself, through the door hinges. Meg was devastated, and in the following chapter tried it, but couldn’t do it, herself. The tension mounts:

Photograph by Lisa Shambrook and Instagram (Please do not use without permission)
While Dad sat at the desk checking emails, Meg disregarded the chair she usually sat in and took the empty seat beside Mum. Mum glanced at her daughter and a smile played on her lips. She rested her hand on Meg’s thigh and caught Meg’s eye, and her daughter leaned across to burrow close. Nobody spoke but mother and daughter felt familiar warmth. Meg placed her hand on Mum’s and felt emotion bubble in her throat; she couldn’t talk even if she wanted to. 
They sat like that for a while, Meg’s head resting on her mother’s shoulder and their unusually tender affection soothed the crippling anguish in both of their hearts.
The clock ticked, the cat sat in the middle of the floor straining his neck to reach his hindquarters as he meticulously washed, and Meg’s mum closed her eyes as she relaxed.
Meg heard her mum sigh and her chest rose and fell with comforting regularity, Mum was in a good place and Meg allowed herself to breathe deeply. She stared at her mum’s hand, the one that lay on her lap, and gently stroked the back of it. She rubbed her fingers across the rings on Mum’s third finger. The smooth gold band and the perpetual circle of tiny diamonds circumnavigating her eternity ring. She lightly rotated the diamonds, letting them sparkle, then massaged Mum’s hand up to her wrist. 
Mum’s breath was soft and tranquil and Meg softly pushed Mum’s sleeve up her arm in a gentle move to massage further. Her mum didn’t move, and Meg pushed it higher. The cut tapered below the furrowed sleeve, peering angrily at Meg. She massaged lightly and softly followed the cut, then ran her finger over the reddened, swollen ridge. 
Her mum flinched and instinctively reached across and pulled the sleeve back down, covering any betrayal. 
Meg bit her lip desperate to speak, her heart raced, thumping so loud she was sure Mum could hear it. Indy stopped licking himself and paused in an ungainly fashion mid-clean, he stared at Meg and Meg stared back. Mum sighed and Meg spoke, softly but firmly.
“Mum, how did you cut your arm?”
The silence was ear piercing for a split second, and Meg felt the tension pool into her mother. Her mum cleared her throat and nodded towards the cat gazing at them on the floor. “The cat scratched me.”
Nobody spoke; even Dad’s fingers hovered above his keyboard.
Then Mum cleared her throat again and despite the palpable tension she brushed her fingers across Meg’s arm. “And how did you get that scratch Meg?”
“The cat,” Meg’s answer was quick and precise. She was learning well.

7 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Teaser: Fault Lines

  1. Meg McNulty

    Lisa this is wonderfully written and nuanced – you have captured the deep emotion contrasted with everything that goes unspoken and also, the heartbreaking rapidity with which a child learns to cover family secrets. It's wonderful and so poignant. I remember loving my mum's hands when I was little because they seemed so capable. Your description of what happens here really brought home that bond and made me empathise with the character. Perfect.

  2. Bullish

    Lisa, the pacing and tension and emotion here are so perfect! I felt I was in the room, watching as it unfolded! The progression from snuggling to confrontation to dual denials was breathtaking! Wonderful writing!! 😀

  3. Jo-Anne Teal (jtvancouver)

    Lisa, this writing comes right from the heart, both the light and the dark. I agree with Ruth that the pacing and tension are really, really well done. Sad and painful and well written. I admire how you always find the right emotion note in your scenes.

  4. Pingback: Understanding Self-Harm: the Truths and Myths and How to Help | The Last Krystallos

  5. Pingback: Coping with Self-Harm: How to Fight the Urges and Win | The Last Krystallos

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