Scarred - a Creative Writing Story
In the spring of 2018, I studied abroad in Perugia, Italy. There, I took a creative writing class which deepened my love for the craft. We were encouraged to explore, take risks, and see where our words took us.
As I sat in bed finishing a novel last night, one assignment in particular popped into mind - nearly dragging me to my laptop to see if I could manage to sift through years of papers to find the story that I felt compelled to share today.
I was chosen to read this story to all of the study abroad students and faculty that semester, and I express eternal thanks to my teacher who encouraged vulnerable, raw, and even uncomfortable stories, even if they go against the curriculum "norm".
The novel surrounded domestic violence, while my own story danced around this as well as sexual assault. While I have never personally experienced DV or sexual assault, it is something that so many women, close to me and far from me, have experienced. I have never shared creative writing on my blog, but something told me that this is the one to share.
For those looking for support, I've provided resources below.
“Let’s all sit down for dinner,” she said, her voice tense.
She placed the overflowing bowl of spaghetti Bolognese on the table, keeping her eyes low. As the others gathered to take their seats, Maria began pouring six glasses of red merlot, her hands shaky.
“What a meal!” said Carmine, “This looks delicious, honey.”
Maria’s red lips turned up for a brief moment as she thanked her husband. As she sat down, she felt eyes on her and as the cat brushed her feet, she flinched.
“I feel so blessed to have my entire family together this evening. We are overjoyed from your surprise visit, Marco. It has been wonderful having you here this past week,” Carmine announced, eyes sparkling. “I never thought my little brother would make it back to southern Italy.”
The children gleamed, and Gina rose from her seat, waddled to Marco and planted him with a sloppy kiss on the cheek. “Uncle, uncle. Kiss!”
The group giggled at the two-year old, but Maria’s back was stiff. She had a pounding sensation on her hip and suddenly hoped she had put on enough makeup to hide the bruises on her neck. She glanced around the table and caught his gazing dark brown eyes. And there it was again—flinch.
“Before we dig into this fabulous meal my wife has prepared, I would like to make a toast to Marco, for always being there for me and all of us even hundreds of miles away. You have done so much for my family and you will always have a home here. We love you, mio fratello,” Carmine’s beer-belly spilled out as he rose from the table with his glass of merlot.
The others raised their glasses as Maria’s finger danced around and around her rim. Her gaze was fixed on the deep red liquid. It reminded her of what oozed from the back of her head the previous night. Her thick, dark curls hid the truth.
“Maria, raise your glass,” Carmine prodded.
Marco sneered, flashing yellowing teeth, as he watched Maria shakily raise her glass. He caught the faint tint of purple on her neck that peaked out from her curls.
“Thank you, brother. I would love to stay as long as you’ll have me,” he said, smiling.
“Stay forever if you wish!” Carmine gave a belly laugh and everyone cheered.
The group sipped their wine, while Maria’s vanished in three gulps.
“Someone’s thirsty,” Rose’s eyebrows raised.
Maria began heaping piles of spaghetti on plates. “If you’ll excuse me, I spilled sauce on my sweater. I’ll just be a moment,” she managed to say as she squeezed out of the room.
She raced upstairs, her head already starting to pound again. She looked in the mirror—black sweater, dark-wash jeans, red lipstick, and a purple tinted neck. How had no one noticed?
She whipped off the sweater and dug through her drawers. She felt a ball forming in her throat and tried to push it down.
She slumped to the side of her bed and stared into the long mirror again. Her curls were running rampant across her face and reminded her of when she was a young girl. She felt tears starting to form and couldn’t hold them back this time.
“You look just as beautiful as last night,” she heard from her bedroom entrance. She whipped her head around to find the 6’5 man with caramel hair, wearing nothing but jeans and carrying his gray shirt.
“Get the hell out of here,” she managed to keep to a whisper, arms shielding her chest.
“It turns out, I’m just as clumsy as you. I dropped sauce on my shirt, too,” he drew closer. “Think you can help me out with that?” he grazed her arm and she raced to her feet. She swung at his head, but he snatched her fist. “Feisty, today. I like that.”
Maria grabbed a shirt from her drawer and fled the room to find Carmine in the hall.
“Carmine, I was just grabbing a shirt,” she said, mascara still runny under her eyes. Marco was only steps behind her, still shirtless as well.
“What’s going on, here?” Carmine asked.
“I was just asking Maria if I could borrow one of your shirts. I didn’t know she was still changing,” Marco’s voice sounded like silk, but made Maria’s ears want to bleed.
“Oh, alright,” Carmine looked at the two quizzically. “Of course, you can. Come with me. Maria, put a shirt on.” The men left the hall while Maria struggled to clothe herself and wipe away her dripping makeup.
When she returned downstairs, she was greeted with chatter and Gina and Nicholas chasing each other around the table. She instantly grabbed the bottle of wine and poured herself a hefty glass.
“What’s that on your neck?” Rose asked as Maria sat down.
“Oh, I fell off the bed last night, banged it on the bedside table,” she said without looking up, “It’s nothing.”
But she wanted to say that it was everything—the end of her sanity, her self-image, her sense of security. But instead, she ran her fingers around the rim of her glass and stared into the deep sea of red, just wanting to drown in it.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-4673