Mama doesn’t look at me as she returns to the stove. She curses the gravy stuck to the bottom of the pan, but I know her anger belongs elsewhere.
“Mama, what’s going on?” My voice comes out timid. Like a young child.
Mama sighs. “It’s not your concern, Ellie. It’s complicated.”
Her response rouses my anger. “If I’m being forced to marry a man I despise because of your secret, it is my business.” I’ve never talked to Mama this way. She flinches as if I slapped her face.
She turns away, but I see her shoulders shake. I hear her quiet sobs and immediately feel awful for lashing out at her. “I’m sorry, Mama.”
“What am I doing to you?” Mama turns to me, her cheeks wet with guilt.
Guilt. It seems to be the glue that bonds us together in this moment.
“What do you mean?” I hope this prompts her to share the burden of her secret.
She opens her mouth, then clamps it shut and shakes her head. “I can’t tell you, Ellie. The less you know, the better off you are.”
“I want to help you.” My voice cracks. Helplessness devours me. “If I marry him, will that even the score?”
“I can’t go through with it, Ellie. You deserve more.”
“What happens if I don’t marry him?”
Mama’s answer of silence reveals more than her words.
I know what I have to do and my stomach lurches at the prospect. I know I have to do something I never imagined doing. I close my eyes and think a paradoxical prayer: I ask forgiveness for the lies I’m bound to tell and strength to carry out my deception.
My family depends on it.
This is part eight of Ellie’s story and it continues right where part seven left off. Thanks again to everyone who has been following this story- thank you! If you didn’t catch the previous parts, check out the links below. Each one is less than 333 words, so it won’t take long to catch up!
Write a 33-333 word response using the third definition of the “score” as shown below:
score (noun): (a) an account or reckoning originally kept by making marks on a tally; (b) amount due : indebtedness.
If you’re interested in trying your hand at the challenges, check out Trifecta’s site by clicking on the tricycle picture above. Happy writing 🙂