So Dan O'Shea has hosted some great flash fiction challenges in the past and he threw this one out as an informal invitation to write a story based on author Hilary Davidson's scar on her arm. It was too fun to resist.
I don't know Hilary personally but I know her writing and she's great. Looking forward to her upcoming novel. Here's a tiny taste of how she might have gotten that scar.
by Eric Beetner
“Don’t touch me.” She’d said it too many times to count.
It was the way he did it with such familiarity. The gentle resting of a hand on her arm, as if he was guiding her through life instead of ripping it apart.
“Don’t call me that.” Life had become a series of Don’t since Dan moved in. Mom deserved better but Hilary knew the next one would only be worse. Just like Dan was worse that Roy before him. And on, and on...
“For how long?”
“I’m not sure. I think she was angry. You know how she gets.”
Angry. Yes, Hilary knew angry.
Three boyfriends, two husbands and so far no one had the balls to get this close to her. They looked, but better judgement prevailed. At least they had that going for them. Unwilling to make advances to a teenage girl.
Hilary turned twenty last month.
She’d tried moving out once, during the ill fated attempt at community college. Twelve hours a week at the school bookstore didn’t pay for tuition let alone her own apartment. Back to home, back to Mommy and whoever else was living in the shadowed house.
He reached out his hand again, laid it on her arm just below her shoulder, comforting. Goose bumps raised on her forearm. She turned her head away.
“Hilary, when are we gonna get along?”
“You should worry about getting along with my Mom.”
“Oh, we’re doing fine. A little fireworks now and then.” He rubbed her arm up and down, caressing the flesh. “Fireworks are good. Shows passion. Passion is good.”
She pulled away. Dan’s hand hung in the air. He clenched it into a fist.
“I said don’t touch me.”
Dan’s voice raised; a familiar tone. “You say that all the damn time. We’re family. I’m allowed to touch you.”
“Not like that.”
“Like what? Y’know if you’re gonna accuse me of something maybe I might as well be guilty of it.”
He breathed heavy from his nose, sounding like an animal. Hilary stared him down. She wanted him to make his move. She wanted an excuse to lash out, to punish him for his impure thoughts.
Dan stood, fist still clenched, looking at her from under his lowered brows. She met his stare, unafraid, daring him with her eyes. A sweet girl with hate inside. Hidden worlds of darkness below the surface.
“Fuck you. Little bitch.” Dan left the kitchen, heavy feet expressing his annoyance.
The fight deferred to another day. A matter of time. When – not if. Hilary rubbed the spot on her arm where he touched. She shuddered.
Another entry in her journal wouldn’t suffice. Not today. Today the levees break.
She opened the drawer, removed a knife. Sharp and clean. Cooking is her Mom’s only skill and she takes more pride in it than in her own daughter.
She lifts the knife to her arm, the infected area. Still tingling from his touch.
She cuts. She hacks out the offending flesh. Carves away the feeling of him.
Blood flows rivers down her arm, drips from each finger. Her knife hand is clean, the arm still capable of wielding the knife. Dan’s heavy footfalls lead her to him.
Mom will be gone for hours. She gets that way when she’s angry.
Hilary knows angry. She wears the scars to prove it.