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Summer Secret


Debra kept the door closed on Zoe's bedroom during the summer because she couldn't bear how empty the house felt with her daughter away.  Zoe had been spending summers with her father every year since her parents divorced when she was three, and each time it meant stressful weeks before and after as she tried to cope with these transitions in her life.  Zoe had seemed particularly anxious as summer approached this year, and she came home distant and upset, getting into fights with her younger brothers and bursting into tears over the smallest things.  Reality came crashing down when a social worker showed up at the door with a report that Zoe had told a teacher her father was molesting her.  Debra felt her heart shatter in a million pieces, and she vowed that no matter what it took, he would never see Zoe again.

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I'm linking up with Lillie McFerrin at Five Sentence Fiction
where the writing prompt this week is "empty"
 

30 comments:

  1. Oh, my goodness. A very well written tragedy.

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    1. Tragedy indeed Gail, scars that last a lifetime.

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  2. Heartrending, and something no parent ever wants to have to deal with. This hits me having experienced things of a similar nature. I love your story's mother and know she'll fight for her daughter.

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    1. Indeed she will, a real parent will put their life on the line for their children, they will stop at nothing to protect their cubs, and to do battle with those who would hurt them.

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  3. Wow! That real punch-in-the-gut writing.

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    1. Thank you Lauren, I wanted to convey that this was indeed a life-altering event. Nothing was ever going to be the same again, but she wasn't going to let it destroy her child.

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  4. What a nightmarish and heartbreaking discovery. Well told, Josie.

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    1. A mother's worst nightmare, Jayne, something that is going to haunt her forever. All she can do know is work to help her daughter deal with the damage that has been done.

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  5. I've known three families that have had to deal with this issue and one is going on today. Or, the after math is going on. The father of a girl who works for me has been molesting her daughter (his granddaughter...His wife refuses to believe it and now my employee has no mother or father as she has thrown both of them out of her life...tragic...so damn tragic...
    yes, he was arrested but is out on bail.

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    1. This story is personal for me too, GS. The man in the story got away with a mere hand slap, but karma caught up to him and his is no longer living. Thankfully, as no more children can be harmed. Too often wives and mothers have a confused sense of loyalty and tend to doubt the child or shut them out emotionally because of the upheaval caused by disclosure. Thus the child not only bears the burden of abuse but also of abandonment, just as you describe. So very, very wrong.

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  6. I was thinking how tough to share a child but then the ending was just heartbreaking. Well written Josie. x

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    1. Being shipped back and forth between parents like a piece of luggage is very hard on children, Lizzie, and hard on their families too. I am not certain it is the best solution for all concerned. In this situation court-required visitation proved to be the most destructive thing that could have happened to this child.

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  7. This breaks my heart. I will never understand this as long as I live, except that evil has no rhyme or reason.

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    1. That is how I see it too Carrie, the very darkest, most depraved form of evil incarnate.

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  8. So tragic! Amazing how much you manage to say in such a brief story.

    Madeleine Begun Kane

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    1. I find myself really enjoying five sentence fiction, Mad Kane. It's a challenge to try to convey a story line briefly, especially for someone who likes to ramble on, as I do! :-)

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  9. Heartbreaking Josie and a reality that far too many have to live through.

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    1. True Sarah, I know more women (and a few men too) who were sexually abused by family members as children than I care to count. It seems to be hideously pervasive in our society, though I suspect it always was, but few ever dared to speak out.

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  10. Unfortunate statement of reality in some families. Divorce can be destructive in more ways than one. I can't help but get a slight sense that Debra might feel responsible to a small extend for what her daughter had experienced,she might have regretted allowing her father to see her as a stipulation in the divorce agreement.

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    1. You make an important point Robin, a mother's first duty is to protect her children, and even if she was unaware of the situation, she will most often always feel some guilt and responsibility, believing that she should have known. It is almost impossible to prevent visitation privileges unless one can prove that the other parent is abusive or mentally unsound. Often it takes an occurrence such as this for such evidence to come to light.

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  11. YOWCH. Strong and incisive. A well crafted look at a very real and harrowing subject.

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    1. Thank you Angela, it's another one of those dark secrets that needs to be dragged into the light so we can begin to find better ways to prevent such tragedies.

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  12. This is a story that hits the reader on so many levels, powerful writing, well done

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    1. Thank you, Mary! There is of course so much more to this story than what could be said in five sentences here.

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  13. I did not expect this story to turn out the way it did. I have great admiration for writers who tackle this subject and express in such a powerful way. Great read, thank you for posting!

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    1. Thank you Marie, I have so many issues with "suitcase kids" This is the worst case scenario, that becomes a reality far more often than we want to believe.

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  14. Hard edged story. I sussed it about half way through.

    Well told.

    JzB

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    1. You are perceptive JzB, children who are acting out are usually trying to tell us something, if we can just find a way to decode the message. Sometimes that's possible, sometimes not so easily done.

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  15. Such a tragic story written so beautifully. Heartbreaking!!!

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    1. It is tragic Lillie, because it's one of those things that there is no way to undo once done, you can work toward healing, but you can never erase the scars. I have zero tolerance for perpetrators of abuse, especially abuse against children. We are supposed to be protecting and nourishing them, not destroying them! It is a sickness I will never understand.

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Your comments are always appreciated... they make me smile! :-)