Life, for Sarah, had always been fraught with that which she could not control.
She’d never been able to make her parents be who she wanted them to be. Their flaws loomed large in her life – her father’s rampant alcoholism, her mother’s enabling of him and neglect of her. How she’d always wanted to take the bottle away from Dad, to watch as, without it, he magically transformed back into the handsome young man in the photos on the mantle… How she’d wanted to reach up and take Mom’s head in her hands and turn it to look her full in the face, as she never, never did….
Her body hadn’t consulted with her about whether or when or how to change. She’d been an early bloomer, and though such developments go largely concealed, still boys and men seem somehow to know. They had not asked her whether she wanted them to begin looking at her and talking to her differently. They just had. And as she grew to be what society sees as the epitome of a beautiful woman, she learned not to trust males almost at all, for their motives often seemed beyond their control.
When she fell in love, she fell head over heels. It happened again and again. Time after time, her rational mind took a powder, leaving her running on pure emotion. Signs which would have spelled warning to women in better possession of themselves evoked go, go, go to her – red flags waved before the raging bull of her need to be known for who she really was, to be given the affirmation and approval that her parents had withheld and which she had never learned to provide for herself.
By twenty, she was pregnant by a flash-in-the-pan coward who fled when he heard the news. Again, her body changed without asking – her belly growing, her poor back bowing, her hormones bubbling and broiling like witches’ brew. And she couldn’t control the aggravating, queasy pain, and she couldn’t control the ‘glow’; nor the fits of depression that followed close on the heels of the fierce joy she felt when her boy was born.
Then there more grim necessities: leaving university, moving in with her mother (Mom now void and blank as a sheet in the absence of deceased Dad), working crap jobs, taking government assistance (with all the red tape and jumping through hoops therein entailed)…
But as her baby grew up, so did she. Fending for him, teaching him, she found aspects of life which she could control. She could be a better parent than either of hers had been. She could play heads-up ball when it came to men. Not that she needed one, not like she had, as loving her son taught her to love herself.
A few years passed, many mothering and personal milestones reached, and at last she had her own apartment. On her windowsill, she placed several houseplants. Like Ethan’s, their well-being was in her hands. And when a fearless, harmless spider threw up a picture-perfect web in that window overnight, she decided the next morning to leave it alone. Maybe she’d take it down later, maybe not. The choice was entirely hers.
This is day 6 for me of the 31-day My 500 Words challenge by Jeff Goins, and his advice today is to “write the emotions, beliefs, or ideas of someone else.” This is a good exercise for me, because I usually find myself writing from my own POV! The prompt photo I cadged from this week’s Friday Fictioneers, though I cannot link up with them, because the FF rules call for a piece of only 100 words. I did make sure to weave in the words ‘aggravate’ and ‘evoke’ so as to join in on Linda Hill’s Just Jot it January and the WordPress Daily Prompt. Also linking up with Traffic Jam Weekend!