Author’s Note: This is a flash fiction response to this weekly challenge. The challenge was:
1. Tell the story of a scar, whether a physical scar or emotional one.
“You look beautiful.”
You look beautiful. He said it, like he had every morning while she stood in front of the mirror trying to decide how to do her hair and which make-up to wear. Such a common and everyday thing for a husband to say and somewhere along the way, Jane had taken it for granted than her husband had actually meant the words.
You look beautiful.
Tom used to kiss her when he said it. On the lips, on the cheek. Little brushes skin against skin that sent butterflies into flight in her stomach and made her wish they both didn’t have to go to work.
Over the years, the kisses became fewer and further between. Changes in schedules, late nights and long days. Two children. School plays and dance recitals.
Life had gotten in the way of the simplest things they used to enjoy. Like eating breakfast together first thing every morning and then getting ready for work at the same time, moving together around their bedroom and in and out of the bathroom. Sharing the sink. Sharing a look, a tender moment.
“Hey! Janie!” Tom’s voice floated back to her from their bedroom door. “I’m headed out now. Gonna be late.”
No kiss today. She didn’t expect one; there hadn’t been in so long she couldn’t quite remember when they stopped.
She looked back at the reflection in the mirror.
Except for the scar slashed across her face, running from the corner of her haunted eyes to the down-turned corner of her mouth. No smile, no sparkle. Just the traces of the emotional scars left by the last twelve, brutal months. No one else could them, except to stop and ask her (on occasion) if everything was okay?
She’d force and smile and say ‘yes’ everything was okay. She was just thinking. Just remembering something she’d forgotten.
Like how to be happy. How to breathe free air and not feel stifled. How to look at the people going about their lives all around her and not feel jealous of their ability to do just that.
She was not beautiful.
If she were beautiful, how could Tom done what he’d done? How could he have broken every vow, every promise he’d ever made to her? How could have given himself so easily to that … that… woman???
How could he have made so light of it when she found out? A shrug. A promise (one she couldn’t actually believe when it came from him) that it was over, ended months ago. Had meant nothing to him. That woman meant nothing to him.
What did she mean to him? Did she mean nothing? Was that what he told her when they… when they… to justify his turning away from his marriage into the arms of another?
She was not beautiful.
She was flawed and imperfect. Full doubts and fears and the irrational belief that he’d do it again if given half the chance.
He promised not to.
He said he loved her.
He said she was beautiful.
But the scars that slashed gouges across her face when looked too closely into the mirror after yet another laugh-less, contact-less, empty morning rush said otherwise.
“Jane? Are you okay?”
She closed her eyes. “Fine, Tom. I’m just fine.”
The scars were gone when she opened her eyes. They always were, when she looked again.