Below is the piece I am currently working on as part of a submission for one of my modules. It does deal with some sensitive and potentially triggering subject matter so please be aware. The entire point of this piece is to shed light on some areas of our society that are not spoken about enough.
Charlotte smoothed the fabric of her dress, her hands trembling as her fingertips ghosted over the maroon satin. Slowly, she raised her eyes. The girl in the mirror stared back, shimmering tracks staining her pale face. She crossed her arms over her chest, her hands gripping her skin.
Her mothers’ hand rested on her bare shoulder. Charlotte sniffed and inclined her head.
“I can’t wear it, Mum,” Charlotte whispered.
Her mum squeezed her shoulder. “They had good intentions, sweetheart.”
Charlotte stared down at her bare feet, her eyes slowly raking over every inch of her exposed skin. Her friends had taken her dress shopping for college graduation. They had all chipped in to buy her a dress, an early birthday present.
It’s not every day you turn eighteen, is it? They said when they thrust the bag into her arms. They wanted her to try it on, they tried to get her to go to the toilets and change into it. They were all so excited.
Charlotte promised to try it on as soon as she got home and Snapchat them all a photo. Now, hours later, she stood in her bedroom hating every second. She did like the dress, truly she did. But not how it looked on her. The dress was trim around the waist and elegantly flowed out into a full skirt, it had no sleeves and ended an inch above her knees.
She hated it.
Charlotte felt her Mum rubbing her shoulders gently, fingertips brushing over faded lines.
“You don’t have to wear it, sweetie. Not if you don’t feel comfortable.”
Charlotte blinked at her double, her vision immediately focused before becoming blurry once more. She grazed over each faded white scar. Her mum caught her eye in the mirror and rested her head against Charlotte’s.
“After all this time, you’re still ashamed of them?” Her Mums’ arthritic ridden fingers pausing over one practically large scar on Charlotte’s forearm.
Charlotte nodded, she blinked and several drops fell down her cheeks.
“Oh, sweetheart,” her Mum whispered, pulling her daughter close.
Charlotte buried her face into her Mum’s shirt and whimpered.
“These,” her mum said, taking Charlotte’s arm and holding it up to the light. Several white scars shimmered. “These show what you’ve been through. They show how strong you are. Charlotte, you’ve been clean for two years. Don’t you know how proud I am of you?”
Charlotte raised her head as her Mum wiped moisture from her cheeks. She smiled shakily and sniffed as her Mum plated a kiss on her hair.
“You’ve done so well,” her Mum said, stroking Charlotte’s hair. “I’m not ashamed of them and neither should you. But if you need to cover them up, then that’s what we’ll do. You don’t have to wear the dress. We can think of something else, perhaps a nice shirt and trousers?”
After a moment, Charlotte pulled out of her mother’s embrace and turned to face the mirror once more. She rubbed at the marks on her arms. They were part of her. They were hers to keep, hers to remind her of what happened and how far she’d come.
She turned to her Mum with a smile.
“I’ll wear the dress,” Charlotte said.