“Something To Be Brave For” [Excerpt]
The rough odor of narcissus bulbs from their pots on the windowsills claws at your throat, and your jaw is stiff. In your peripheral vision you sense the glimmering green and silver and red of the family Christmas tree, shining with Rose’s paper and tinfoil-and-ribbon decorations, but you are too injured to turn and look. With your tongue you take inventory of your teeth. All there: good. One less trip to the dentist, and you hate dentists––the screaming drill, the exposed nerves, all those gleaming instruments arrayed with cold precision on a stainless steel tray, much like the tools your husband uses when performing surgery, and just as deadly.
Come to think of it, depending on how badly your nose has been smashed, you may need plastic surgery, though you don’t imagine Claude would be your first choice for the job. He seems more disposed to destroying your looks than saving them, which is puzzling, because he cares so deeply about appearances, including yours. No, that job may have to fall to your father—Claude’s mentor—though at the moment you’re not exactly keen on letting him at you with his knife, either.
You’re sure there’s something more you should be doing to protect yourself from what feels like the inevitable—something more than curling up under a piano—but you can’t seem to put your finger on it. In fact you can’t seem to focus on anything right now but your broken body. You wish you had your glasses, but they’re upstairs lying on the candy-striped carpet in Rose’s bedroom, the lenses crushed, the frames bent. And do you really want to see all this more closely?
You listen hard and hear nothing but the muffled growl of studded tires on snow crunching along your quiet little street: somebody driving home to their own family, no doubt.
You’ll be all right.
You’ll stay here until morning, and you’ll do whatever you have to do to feel safe; you’ll survive. It’s what you’ve done before, and it’s what you’ll do again.
This is nothing new.
Calm down, the worst is over.
Try to believe it. You have to. What other choice is there?