Write about something you consider “ugly” — war, violence, failure, hatred — but try to find beauty, or a sense of hope, in your thoughts.
Molly sat alone at the kitchen table. There was no food set out before her. No conversation bantered about. Molly sat at the table alone. She sat there in the dark.
It was early morning. She was trying to collect her thoughts. She was trying to make sense of it all, as she always did.
She thought about how it was a funny thing. It could bring intense, searing shards of splintered pain, making her body feel like an oversized pin cushion. At the same time, it caused her to feel numb, numb in every pore and crevice. Numb as if she were already dead and nothing more than some existential mind hovering over a cold, limp corpse pondering its own demise.
Molly laughed. Quietly to herself. She thought how numbness burned hot with its own pain, its own misery.
She felt a tear trickle down her cheek. Wet and solitary. A small trace of humanity washing over a pummeled visage of barbarism.
Molly thought how it had not always been this way. Even more, she thought how she had not always been this way.
She wanted to just put her head in her hands and sob; but it was too painful to move. Her hands proved no comfort; instead, they were a shaking wreck of humiliation and despair. As she looked at her hands, quivering and stained, she saw his hands . . . she felt his hands. With each blur of force in her memory her mind ached and her body flinched.
She let out a sudden cry of anguish, before she even realized it had escaped her lips. That cry carried more pain than she could have imagined. It felt like salty air bruising across ripped, tattered flesh. Her lips, along with all around them, were swollen, bloodied, and stained by hate and malice.
She felt tears welling up again in the corners of her eyes. But these tears did not fall. They stayed in place, like young eaglets clutching timidly to the edge of their nest as they look out into the vastness of open sky.
Molly sat grimly, cocooned in her misery.
What can I do, she thought in desperation.
There’s no way out. There’s no where to turn. I have nothing left to hope in . . . nothing left to live for, kept repeating itself over and over in her mind.
Molly moved her hands to the table top to rest them on something sure, something solid. Pain and fatigue make movement difficult, but move her hands she did.
Suddenly, she felt her left hand brush across something. She fumbled at the object, trying to make it out. It was rectangular and small. She gingerly picked it up and felt its edges. She looked down and with effort opened her eyes wider and strained against the blackness that enveloped her.
It was a book.
Where did this come from, Molly asked half-aloud?
She looked closer and recognized the book. It wasn’t just any book. It was the book her mother had given to her when she turned eighteen.
Molly managed a misshapen, ugly smile. Molly had not thought of her mother in a long time.
She died too young, Molly thought.
She opened the book to the inside of the front cover and read the inscription her mother had written to her so many years before.
My Dear Molly,
Today you become a woman. Really, you have been a woman for quite some time now. I wanted to give you something special, something to be a keepsake for you as you continue to grow and travel this road called life. This was a book my mother gave to me and now I’m giving it to you. I pray you will find wisdom in these pages. I hope when times get dark it will be a light to your soul. I hope it reminds you of your childhood, of the good times we have had, and that it will make you smile and even laugh.
My precious Molly, I want you to live life without fear and with no regret. Be strong and be courageous. These are qualities that life will respect and that destinies will bless. There will be people and things, as you go forward, that will try to rob you of these-that will try to rob you of the most important quality you possess: your own worth. DON’T LET THAT HAPPEN!
You are my Molly, but even more, you are your own. Don’t surrender yourself to anything or anyone that would want to steal from you that quality. Life can be hard, but stay focused and you will see your dreams come true.
Always remember, I love you.
With deepest love,
Molly couldn’t remember when she had read this last. She couldn’t even remember where the book had been for the last few years.
How in the world did it get on the table, she pondered, Did I grab it, did I put it here? But when? How?
As Molly gently rubbed the pen strokes on the page with her fingertip, a small shard of light from the dawn trickled through a half broken blind. She felt its warmth on her hand. She leaned back and breathed a deep, soul-filling breath.
Molly felt life rekindle deep within her. Deep in her soul where gloom and darkness had cast shadows. Light filled her and she felt a million things and she felt them all at once. But in that moment there was one thing she did not feel: pain.
Molly picked herself up from her chair, took the book in her hand, opened the blinds full and basked in the morning glow. She turned and looked around her. And with the determination of a bright-eyed and eager eighteen year old, she lifted her head, moved toward the door, turned and gave one last look. One last look to the darkness, the pain, the fear, the bedroom where he slept, the house that had become her dungeon.
Never again, she heard herself say in a clear, resolute voice.
She turned toward the outside world, said good-bye, and slammed the door.