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The Light You Cast - 12. Chapter 12

Warnings: There will be descriptions of domestic abuse in this chapter.

Out of curiosity, do you think warnings are necessary at this point? I figure that readers who made it this far get the idea about the content, and I don't necessarily want to continue giving away what's going to happen before the chapter starts. But I still want to make sure I'm doing the right thing. Let me know your thoughts.

Jonathan's arm draped across my chest as morning shadows danced on the walls. His warm breath puffed against my arm, even and steady. The rhythm of my heartbeat matched the pulse I felt through his legs, still intertwined with mine. In my tired state, he held me captivated. With my eyes, I traced the smooth clear lines that formed his chin, the gentle slope from his lip to his nose. For a moment, light touched the side of his face, and the skin of his nose and lips looked translucent.

Jonathan. I said his name silently as I traced his collar bone with the pad of my thumb. Then I began the heartbreaking process of unwrapping myself from him.

He groaned and stretched with a giant yawn. I took the opportunity to try and get out of bed, but he cast his arm back over me posessively.

“No,” he muttered. “Too cold.”

“I have to,” I said with a quiet laugh. I peeled his arm off of me and he groaned.

“Fine, I’ll just shiver over here until you get back.”

He pulled the covers over his head and curled up into a ball. Within a few seconds, his breath returned to its steady, even pace. Gingerly I got out of the bed and tiptoed out to use the bathroom and drink a glass of water. It helped calm my sour stomach and rinsed away the acidic feel in my mouth.

The cold crept in after that, and I wanted to crawl straight back in bed, but I knew I wasn’t going to be able to fall back to sleep. I grabbed my journal and pen from my bag in the living room so I could keep myself occupied.

Jonathan’s body heat made me shiver as I slid back into the sheets and began to write. I took my time, glancing at his sleeping form now and then between the lines. I wrote through a familiar ache in my chest, but it passed almost as quickly as it came. Normally I stopped writing when the sorrow went away. But this time I wanted to keep going. Something else spurred me on, something I didn’t quite understand. I turned the page and formed my words into a poem.

When it was done, I wiped my pen dry and set it down. I frowned at my writing, confused. Had I actually written a love poem? This might have been the first time I’d written something like this. It wasn’t dripping with sorrow or loaded up with awe for nature. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. In fact, I almost crumpled it up and tossed it out. But I stopped myself and read it one more time.


The Light You Cast

You fall asleep so easily,
claiming you feel safe with me.
While I refuse to close my eyes,
sunlight reaches through the blinds
and paints your skin in even stripes.

I can’t seem to look away.
I want to memorize the way
our bodies somehow still align
and even as you breathe in time,
your smallest finger hooks with mine.

Light sometimes slants a certain way
revealing paths where shadows lay.
This is why I will not sleep,
I would not trade it for a dream,
this light you cast inside of me.

I started when I felt Jonathan’s hand on my cheek. His lips touched mine, pulling me away from the journal. His fingers slipped through my hair. I let the journal drop to the bed, closed my eyes and sank into his kiss.

“What are you writing about?” he asked against my lips.

“Not sure exactly,” I replied with a half-truth. “Just letting words come out.”

“You looked so serious and absorbed. I couldn’t help distracting you,” he said with an impish apology in his eyes.

“I got a little lost in it,” I admitted. “How are you feeling?”

“Sore and hungover,” he said. “I really, really don’t want to go to work today. I’d much rather stay in bed with you all day.”

The thought of that made me warm all over. We kissed again and tangled ourselves together, hands roaming freely until his phone rudely interrupted us with a loud set of chimes.

“Ugh. That’s my signal,” he sighed heavily. “I’d better go. Don’t get up. You’ll distract me too much and I’m already going to be late.”

The loss of his presence felt more poignant today than it ever had before. I slogged through it. If I had a job to distract me, it would have been easier. After so many days without working or earning money I was beginning to feel a bad combination of emotions: restless and useless.

I started by sending Michael a text asking how it went. He replied that it went great and he would be staying another night. One worry to cross off my laundry list.

After a cup of coffee, some toast, and a shower, I found myself pacing around the house with Sophie’s number in one hand and my phone in the other, my heart racing like it wanted to escape my chest entirely.

God, but I was tired of being afraid all the time. So tired of it that a sense of defiance welled inside me. It came with surge of energy forceful enough that I had to let it out. I put my face in a couch pillow and let a primal scream tear out of my throat. It hurt.

Breath trembling and angry with myself, I stood up and flipped open my ancient phone. I slammed the number into it with my thumb and shoved the receiver up to my ear. With my teeth clenched, I stood and waited as it rang.

“Hello? Who’s this?” a woman’s voice said. She sounded impatient.

“Hi. Hope I’m not interrupting anything. Is Sophie home?”

“Who’s calling?” she asked.

“Elliot.” I hadn’t used my childhood name in so long that it felt foreign on my tongue.

“Hmm. Are you trying to ask her out on a date? If you are, you can forget it. She’s not allowed.”

I swallowed. Who did this lady think she was? And why did she sound so grouchy? I hadn’t wanted anyone other than Sophie to know who I was, but it seemed like I had no choice. “No. I’m her brother,” I said.

“What? Sophie doesn’t have a brother anymore,” she said in clipped tones. “What’s your business?”

“I just wanted to talk to her. Can you at least tell her I called?”

“Let me see what she has to say about this. Sophie!” She must have covered the receiver after that because I could hear the muffled sound of voices talking, but I couldn’t tell what they were saying. A moment later the woman’s voice returned.

“She seems to think you are who you say you are. But first, before I let you talk to her, let me tell you this. If you’re not lying, and you’re really her brother, you have some serious explaining to do. And if you are lying to me, then God help you.”

I heard some clicking sounds, a door shutting, and some static before Sophie’s voice finally came through.

“Elliot? Is this really you?”

Her voice sounded shy and hesitant. Hearing it brought back a million memories until my throat choked up with tears. I had to swallow them down before I could speak. “Soph,” I said. “It’s really me.”

“You’re actually calling me? I’m actually hearing your voice?” she asked.

“Yeah, Sophie. Do you remember me?”

She didn’t answer. I waited, paced, and waited some more. Then I heard a stifled sound, a sniff? Was she crying?

“Hey,” I said when she still didn’t reply. “Are you okay?

“No,” she said in a wavery voice. “Not really. I can’t believe this. I’ve dreamed about you calling me or visiting me for my whole life.”

A surge of emotion, mostly guilt, made me bow over. I rubbed the palm of my hand into my sternum to soothe the ache in my chest. What a terrible thing I’d done, leaving her alone.

“I’m really sorry Sophie,” I said. “I should have called you a long time ago."

“I saved all your letters,” she said, sniffling. “I read them so many times, I memorized them. Do I sound crazy?”

“You don’t sound crazy at all.”

“I feel like I am.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because. I just—I don’t know. Let me start over, okay?”

“Sure, Soph.”

She drew in a long trembling breath. “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to say.”

I understood completely. “That’s okay. I’ll start. You just turned eighteen a few weeks ago, right? Wasn’t your birthday on February 12?”

“Yeah,” she let out a small, nervous laugh. “You remember my birthday. I don’t even remember yours.”

“Mine’s in April. The 4th.”

“How old will you be?” she asked.

“Twenty-eight.”

I could hear a sharp intake of breath. “Whoa.”

“It’s not that old, is it?”

“No. I mean, I know you were ten when I was born. It’s just that I still picture you being sixteen in my head.”

“I can understand that. I still picture you being six years old.”

“So… Where do you live right now?” she asked. “What do you do?”

“I just moved to Toronto and I’m still looking for work. My friend’s helping me get a job.” I hesitated before I said the next thing. But I wanted her to know me. “Actually, he’s more like my boyfriend than my friend.”

“Oh, really? What’s his name?”

I smiled. She didn’t seem phased. That was good. “Jonathan.”

“Wait. Isn’t that the journalist guy? Did he find you? Is that why you’re calling me?”

The journalist guy. I almost laughed at her phrasing. He was so much more than that. But of course she wouldn’t know. She barely knew me at all. “Yeah. Jonathan found me. If I didn’t get your number from him, I wouldn’t have known how to reach you. He’s been helping me out a lot, actually.”

“That’s good. I get so lonely sometimes, I wish I had someone like that. It’s kind of painful, actually.”

“Aw, Sophie. Believe me, I know how you feel. But you’re so young, there’s plenty of time to find someone. You’re still in high school, right?”

“Yeah, just for a few more months. Then I’m done. I got accepted at the Ryerson University in Toronto and I’m gonna study psychology. I got a couple of scholarships to help.”

“Really? That’s amazing. You must do really well in school.”

“I have to,” she explained. “I don’t like it here, and if I don’t get out soon, I’ll go even crazier than I already am.”

A stab of fear touched me, and I could feel myself grow rigid. “How bad is it?” I asked, not sure I wanted to hear what she was going to say. The woman on the phone hadn’t sounded pleasant at all.

“Not as bad as it used to be. Not like it was with dad. Barb’s just overprotective on an extreme level. Tom’s a little better, but he doesn’t stand up to her. I can’t really be myself. They barely even let me out of the house, even though I never do anything wrong.”

I mulled her words over for a moment. If she wasn’t allowed to spend time with her friends, how could they expect her to be happy? Did these people even care about her? “How long have you been living with them?” I asked.

“Since a few days after mom and dad died. I got placed here as their ward and then they adopted me. They never had any kids of their own, so it’s just me. We live in Edmonton.”

“But you’ll be in Toronto pretty soon, right? That’s where I am.”

“Yeah. I’ll be there in June. Going to do summer school before the school year starts so I can get in as early as possible.”

“I like that plan,” I said. “Then I’ll be able to see you sooner.”

She hesitated for a minute, making a noise before stopping and trying again. “Do you really want to see me?” she asked.

“Of course I do.”

“Then why didn’t you put a phone number on any of your letters? Or an address? Why didn’t you want to hear from me?”

I shook my head slowly, continued rubbing my chest. At this rate I was going to give myself a bruise. “I’m so sorry. Please don’t think I didn’t want to, okay? It’s just that I was scared, Soph. I still am.”

“You’re scared? Of me?” she squeaked.

“No. Not you. It’s about… about what I did to Dad.” I clenched my jaw for a minute. It didn’t seem to matter how casually I tried to mention the incident. It still made me react, stress riddling through me, muscles tightening. “I’m scared of getting caught. I haven’t even used my real name in a decade. I’m going by Ethan right now. So it might be easier if you called me that.”

“What you did to him?” She repeated the question again. Her voice pitched higher, and she didn’t sound so quiet anymore. “Are you serious? What about what he did to you? And to mom? That's mental, Elliot. And I’m not calling you Ethan.”

The emotion rising in her voice stunned me. What happened to my shy, quiet little Sophie? I blinked like a deer in the headlights and couldn’t think of what to say.

“That’s okay, though. I’m kind of crazy too,” she rushed in to add. “I mean, I barely remember anything that happened before the day you left. I don’t even remember my own mom. But you know what I do remember? Him. And what he did to you. I remember it vividly. My psych says it’s because of the trauma.”

“Let’s not talk about that,” I said. It came out so quietly she probably couldn’t hear me. She went on as if she didn’t, anyway. My ears began to ring.

“I remember him cornering you and yelling in your face all the time. ‘Hit me back!’ He must have screamed that at you, what, ten thousand times? But you never would. So he’d call you awful names, like—”

“Sophie. Stop,” I choked. My voice came out louder this time, and she stopped. I listened to the echo of my own breath as I tried to catch a grip on myself. These were not memories I could bear to think about. Why was she doing this? Was she trying to punish me? I couldn’t wrap my head around it. She ended up answering my unvoiced question.

“It’s not fair,” she cried.

“I know,” I said. “I know, Sophie. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s not fair,” she repeated, this time much more softly. “You wrote to me about mom and the things she used to do. Like how she knew the names of the wildflowers and the trees and birds. And how she could identify a bird just by its song. I don’t get to have those memories. All I get are the horrible ones.”

“I don’t think about it,” I said.

She made a sound in her throat like she didn’t believe me. “Is that even possible?”

“It is for me,” I answered.

“How?”

“Are you sure you really want to know?” I asked.

“I’m going to be a psychology major, Elliot. I want to know everything.”

I couldn’t believe I was going to tell her this. As many times as I’d played this conversation out in my head, it never occurred to me that she might dig so deep, so fast. But I didn’t think it would be right to refuse her. Not after all I’d withheld for so many years.

“I imagine I’m drowning under a frozen lake,” I said. "And when it's bad enough, I hold my breath."

“For how long?” she asked.

“As long as it takes.”

“Do you ever pass out?”

Discomfort prickled my skin painfully until I realized I couldn’t continue this line of questioning. “Can we please talk about something else?” I asked desperately. “Is your favorite color still purple? What do you like to do for fun? Do you have any friends?”

She gave an exasperated breath, but she humored me in clipped sentences. “I'm way too old for a favorite color, but if I have to, I'll choose black. For fun, I’m learning the ukulele and I do makeup videos on TikTok. But I’m a coward and I wash it off before Barb sees it because I can’t stand it when she slut-shames me. My best friends Jesse and Vivi get to go out to concerts and movies without me. I spend most of my time studying so I can get out of here as soon as I possibly can.”

“But you’re eighteen now—” I started.

“Didn’t you hear the part where I said I was a coward? My psych says that even though she never raised a hand to me, I'm scared to stand up to Barb because of what I witnessed happening to you.”

If she kept bringing it back up, I didn’t think I could keep talking to her. My muscles were beginning to cramp from the tightness that riddled my body every time she blindsided me.

“You really can't talk about it, can you," she said after my lack of response. "Why do I suddenly feel like I’m the older sibling?”

“I don’t know, Sophie,” I replied, defeated.

“Listen, Elliot. I’m sorry that all I want to talk about is stuff you are still working hard to repress. Maybe deep down I was hoping that when you finally called me you’d solve all my problems. But that’s not realistic at all, is it? Of course you’re just as damaged as I am. Probably even more.”

“I’m sorry, Soph.”

“Can I call you sometimes? Is that okay? Can we be like a real brother and sister?”

“Yeah. Of course. I would love that.”

“Good. Barb wants me to come shopping with her right now, so I have to go. I love you, Elliot. I’m glad you called.”

I swallowed, feeling a little like she’d just put me through a washing machine on the spin cycle. “I love you too, Sophie.”

She hung up. Dazed, I closed the phone.

*****

With a heavy woosh of air and blankets, I crashed face-first into his bed. A shudder came next, and I curled myself tightly into a ball.

Almost twenty-eight years old, and I was still so stunted that my eighteen year old sister felt older than me. I’d run away from all my problems and my responsibility to her like a scared little boy. And then there was the suffering I’d caused her. So much pain in her voice. I couldn’t bear it. A sob shook me. I gripped my hair tight enough that some strands began to pop from their follicles and cried for a long time.

But I didn’t really deserve to feel sorry for myself, did I? Relief didn't follow the tears. Instead, my thoughts turned darker.

Right when I felt at my weakest, my father barged in. His screaming face came so close to my mind that I could see his pores and smell his sweat. My instinct to escape him threw me into an image of the dark and lonely lake, frozen under starlight. But I ripped myself away from its security. I couldn’t have it anymore. Not after what Sophie said.

So the memories flooded in. My father trapped me in the corner, pinned me to the wall and screamed at me. He rained blows over me with fists and steel-toed boots. Once in a while, he’d beat my mom in front of me, demanding that I make him stop. In pain, she'd yell for me to just hit him already so he'd stop. But the rage that man contained engulfed my entire world. It crowded me out. I didn’t have a chance. None of us did.

The hatred that filled me afterwards was always twofold. First for him. Second for myself. Why couldn't I just hit him back? It was all he ever wanted from me. Why couldn’t I do that simple thing?

Because you’re weak, a sick voice inside me replied. I took in a gasp of air, shaking with dread. It sounded in my ear, clear as day. A worthless, good-for-nothing coward. Save Jonathan from yourself. You’ll only hurt and disappoint him, just like everyone else in your family.

That voice was much too real. Sophie was right - I was deranged! How long had my father’ been lurking in my head, hidden in shadows too dark for me to see? How long had I been too afraid to confront him?

No. I couldn’t allow this to continue. I refused. I pushed myself off the bed and began to pace around the house, unable to sit still as my thoughts rapid-fired through my head.

I realized with gut-wrenching certainty that it was not just the wolf-killer of my nightmares that I needed to fear. It was the voice of him, my father, berating me inside my own head. If I listened to it, he would win and I would lose.

Jonathan was the best thing that ever happened to me. I couldn't let my fear paralyze me anymore. It would destroy me, and him right along with me. But what should I do? How should I confront it?

Jonathan's apartment suddenly began to feel too small. I needed space.

As this thought struck me, something else occured to me as well. I walked up to the window and looked out at the snowy landscape. Sunlight soaked into my tired eyes. It streaked through tree branches and layered over buildings. A beautiful day. Slowly, steadily, my heart swelled inside my chest with a bittersweet pain. How much pain could one heart endure before it gave out? I looked back at the bed, its twisted sheets, the place where the mattress still looked dented from where Jonathan had slept.

Resolutely, I took a few deep breaths and made my decision.

Then I picked up my phone.

*****

“Hi, Mrs. Gordon. It’s Ethan.”

“Oh, hello, Ethan,” Mrs. Gordon said pleasantly. “How are you, dear?”

“I’m doing okay. Michael told me he’s had a good time with you. Thank you so much for doing this for him.”

“Of course. We’re family, after all.”

“Listen, I know this is out of the blue, but I have a favor to ask. I need a place to stay for. Just for a little while. I’m still looking for a job, but I can pay rent as soon as I find one. I know it’s a lot to ask, but—”

“I think that would be fine,” she said, not letting me finish. “You seem like an upright young man. And I know as well as anyone that we all need a little help and support now and then.”

“Really? You don’t need to ask your husband?”

“Oh, I’ll talk to him, but I’m sure he’ll be fine with it. He liked you quite a bit.”

Relief flooded through me. “Thank you Mrs. Gordon. I owe you so much.”

I straightened myself up, packed my things into my bag and looked up a bus route. This time, I didn’t care if I got lost on the way. I was sick and tired of being afraid.

Before I left, I carefully made the bed. Then I tore a page out of my journal and set it on top of Jonathan’s covers. On the back of the page, I had written him a note with my dip pen.

*****

Dear Jonathan,

I talked to Sophie like I said I would. She made me realize something about myself. I have to work through it before I’m ready to be the man you deserve.

I’m going to stay with the Gordans for a while. I am not abandoning you. Please don’t think I am, because the last thing I want to do is hurt you. In fact, that’s exactly why I have to do this.

I wrote this poem for you this morning. I hope you like it.

Love,
Ethan

Copyright © 2021 headtransplant; All Rights Reserved.
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This was a chapter that starts the healing.  First for Ethan and then Sophie.  I don't know for sure that Ethan moving out of Jonathan's place is a good idea.  There are arguments to both sides of that, but of course, time and your pen will determine that.  And I don't think the warmings at the beginning of the chapters is necessary.  If anyone doesn't expect that to happen by this time I don't think they would still be reading the story.   I am enjoying the story too.

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Do you think Ethan should have spoke to Jonathan first before doing this.This is something I didn't have to go though so I wouldn't know but I can see somebody saying leaving a note a cowardly way to do it.

 

An observation those people who adopted Sophie are they qualified?Sophie not going anywhere with friends doesn't sound like a good situation. One last question Ethan referred to himself as Elliot but Sophie called him Elijah is that a middle name or something? Great chapter 

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1 hour ago, Terry P said:

This was a chapter that starts the healing.  First for Ethan and then Sophie.  I don't know for sure that Ethan moving out of Jonathan's place is a good idea.  There are arguments to both sides of that, but of course, time and your pen will determine that.  And I don't think the warmings at the beginning of the chapters is necessary.  If anyone doesn't expect that to happen by this time I don't think they would still be reading the story.   I am enjoying the story too.


His choice makes sense in his head, but Ethan should have probably thought it through a lot more carefully. I’ll let the story tell the rest, like you said. Why is it so hard not to spill the beans in the comments? 🤐

Thanks so much for reading, your great comments, and your input on the warnings!

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1 hour ago, weinerdog said:

Do you think Ethan should have spoke to Jonathan first before doing this.This is something I didn't have to go though so I wouldn't know but I can see somebody saying leaving a note a cowardly way to do it.

 

An observation those people who adopted Sophie are they qualified?Sophie not going anywhere with friends doesn't sound like a good situation. One last question Ethan referred to himself as Elliot but Sophie called him Elijah is that a middle name or something? Great chapter 

It was such a hard choice to make as a writer because all I can think about is how Jonathan’s going to feel when he finds that letter. Let’s just say Ethan is convinced this is the right thing to do, but I’m not.

Oops. It’s supposed to be Elliot. Too many E names were running  through my head. Hopefully I can fix it before anyone else gets confused 😳

Thanks so much for your helpful comments!

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84Mags

Posted (edited)

Ethan’s call to Sophie is yet another important step on his road to fully healing from the abuse, trauma and events of his past. The whole chapter illustrates how hard it is, starting with the the safe and loving present of Jonathan’s relationship with Ethan, beautifully expressed in Ethan’s poem. The stark contrast of Sophie’s overly controlling adoptive mother and openly discussing her own emotional damage is jarring. It is interesting Sophie recognized Ethan no longer felt comfortable with his given name, but Sophie couldn’t use his chosen, as if the name held too much pain for her. Michael doing well and Mrs. Gordon taking Ethan in is another big step along the road to recovery. While I am sad Ethan couldn’t face Jonathan with the news, hopefully his lovely poem and the note explains enough for now.  
Warnings are an author’s choice; I’ve never felt they took away from a story or gave away too much, but once warnings are set at the beginning readers know what they are in for. Having said that, since some works deal with emotionally triggering situations, it can be a nice courtesy for a particularly difficult chapter.  

Edited by 84Mags
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A beautiful chapter! I love the inclusion of the poetry :)

 

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1 hour ago, 84Mags said:

Ethan’s call to Sophie is yet another important step on his road to fully healing from the abuse, trauma and events of his past. The whole chapter illustrates how hard it is, starting with the the safe and loving present of Jonathan’s relationship with Ethan, beautifully expressed in Ethan’s poem. The stark contrast of Sophie’s overly controlling adoptive mother and openly discussing her own emotional damage is jarring. It is interesting Sophie recognized Ethan no longer felt comfortable with his given name, but Sophie couldn’t use his chosen, as if the name held too much pain for her. Maybe Elijah is a middle ground. Michael doing well and Mrs. Gordon taking Ethan in is another big step along the road to recovery. While I am sad Ethan couldn’t face Jonathan with the news, hopefully his lovely poem and the note explains enough for now.  
Warnings are an author’s choice; I’ve never felt they took away from a story or gave away too much, but once warnings are set at the beginning readers know what they are in for. Having said that, since some works deal with emotionally triggering situations, it can be a nice courtesy for a particularly difficult chapter.  

I’m so happy that you liked how Ethan expressed himself to Jonathan through the poem. I felt so impatient waiting for the right time to include another of his writings and I couldn’t wait to write this one in particular. 

Unfortunately the inclusion of the name Elijah was an editing error 😅 It should have been Elliot. It’s fixed now. Sophie wanted to use the name of the brother she remembered and didn’t like the idea of calling him anything else. Sorry about that, it slipped right by me.

Thanks for sharing your comments and your ideas on the warnings! I really appreciate hearing your thoughts.

Edited by headtransplant
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35 minutes ago, AC Benus said:

A beautiful chapter! I love the inclusion of the poetry :)

 

Thank you so much for the kind words! I really enjoy writing poetry and prose through Ethan’s eyes.

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First.... really well written chapter. 

Second..... why do I have a feeling that the core of this chapter is what sparked the whole story idea in your head? That's what usually happens to me. I'll get an idea or a scene that gets stuck on repeat in my head and then the story develops around it. The actual scene is buried in the middle of the story somewhere. 

Third... Get this guy some therapy!!! He can't deal with this type of trauma by himself. He needs professional help. That said, you're doing a great job of conveying his pain and angst. By facing his past he can start dealing with it and move forward. 

Fourth.... warnings are usually welcomed for those who may have certain triggers. It's a nice courtesy so that those who need to shore up their mental defenses can do so before they start reading. 

 

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28 minutes ago, kbois said:

First.... really well written chapter. 

Second..... why do I have a feeling that the core of this chapter is what sparked the whole story idea in your head? That's what usually happens to me. I'll get an idea or a scene that gets stuck on repeat in my head and then the story develops around it. The actual scene is buried in the middle of the story somewhere. 

Third... Get this guy some therapy!!! He can't deal with this type of trauma by himself. He needs professional help. That said, you're doing a great job of conveying his pain and angst. By facing his past he can start dealing with it and move forward. 

Fourth.... warnings are usually welcomed for those who may have certain triggers. It's a nice courtesy so that those who need to shore up their mental defenses can do so before they start reading. 

 

I can see where you’re coming from with that theory. This chapter has that “story defining” feel to it, especially with the titular poem. The first few chapters actually sat in a pile for a long time because I didn’t like my original direction. I decided to dust it off and re-plot. That’s when the ideas you see here came up. Part of its rebirth I guess?

I feel like I’m torturing you with Ethan’s lack of therapy! Without giving too much away, he is finally ready to get the help he needs. 

Thank you so much for your comments, and I really appreciate hearing your thoughts about chapter warnings.

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84Mags

Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, headtransplant said:

I’m so happy that you liked how Ethan expressed himself to Jonathan through the poem. I felt so impatient waiting for the right time to include another of his writings and I couldn’t wait to write this one in particular. 

Unfortunately the inclusion of the name Elijah was an editing error 😅 It should have been Elliot. It’s fixed now. Sophie wanted to use the name of the brother she remembered and didn’t like the idea of calling him anything else. Sorry about that, it slipped right by me.

Thanks for sharing your comments and your ideas on the warnings! I really appreciate hearing your thoughts.

Too funny about Elliot vs Elijah! I will fix my comment, too.  Your poem is beautiful and perfect for this chapter. I don’t tend to leave comments for anyone’s poetry because I view poetry as art and thus too personal to share my thoughts about.  But in this case the poetry melded the whole chapter together too well to not mention. 
 

Edited by 84Mags
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Philippe

Posted (edited)

@headtransplantasks:
Out of curiosity, do you think warnings are necessary at this point? I figure that readers who made it this far get the idea about the content, and I don't necessarily want to continue giving away what's going to happen before the chapter starts. But I still want to make sure I'm doing the right thing. Let me know your thoughts.

*** just my 2 cents, and I’m not fully abreast any posting standards authors must comply with ***

I would think the cover statement at the beginning of the story is fair warning, or if compelled, then put the same general statement on each chapter stating “Reader Beware; this STORY contains abuse and such content is central to the storyline and is inseparable in story content and it’s characters.” Then let the general statement ride independent of any particular chapter content; preserving storyline suspense without those pesky directional announcements.

Edited by Philippe
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1 hour ago, Philippe said:

@headtransplantasks:
Out of curiosity, do you think warnings are necessary at this point? I figure that readers who made it this far get the idea about the content, and I don't necessarily want to continue giving away what's going to happen before the chapter starts. But I still want to make sure I'm doing the right thing. Let me know your thoughts.

*** just my 2 cents, and I’m not fully abreast any posting standards authors must comply with ***

I would think the cover statement at the beginning of the story is fair warning, or if compelled, then put the same general statement on each chapter stating “Reader Beware; this STORY contains abuse and such content is central to the storyline and is inseparable in story content and it’s characters.” Then let the general statement ride independent of any particular chapter content; preserving storyline suspense without those pesky directional announcements.

Thanks, @Philippe, I like this suggestion as well as the wording you provided. Seems like a good solution to me.

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