Friday, September 30, 2011

RFW - Fearful Heart
Ghosts of Lovers Past - Virginia & Matt

Virginia's been through a rough time, and now she's at a coffee shop with Jack, a newfound online interest, for their first Meet.  She's excited... and she's terrified.

Denise (aka L'Aussie) & Francine, thank you so very much for starting this group, doing all the work to keep it going, and giving us such challenging prompts.  This week, Challenge #21, is Fearful Heart, written for this prompt and another reason, as well.

For the rest of the RFW poems & stories, by writers who always bring a smile to my face, go hereWord Count: 397; FCA (Full Critique Acceptable  - and requested, thank you!)

Virginia retreated to the ladies’ room to sort out her feelings.

Matt seemed nice.  So had Frank.

He’d been punctual.  Bought her coffee.  Frank was generous.  At first.

from FreeDigitalPhotos
He talked warmly about his dog, and his nephews and nieces.  Children and animals usually adored Frank.  So much for “Animals and children always know.”

Matt was responsive to her remarks, talking, but not monopolizing their chat.  Frank had seemed riveted, initially.  Later, he shut down her attempts at conversation, felt threatened by her friends, her job, her ex-boyfriends...  Gradually without realizing it, she isolated herself from almost every outside connection.

Feeling panic creep up on her, Virginia took several deep, cleansing breaths.

Matt wasn’t as handsome as Frank.  Point in his favor.

They’d disagreed - slightly - about politics.  He didn’t try to browbeat me into accepting his point of view.

A stunningly beautiful woman had strutted into the coffeeshop, and though Matt’s eyes flickered to her momentarily, they returned quickly to Virginia’s face.

She peeked out of the restroom door.  Matt waited patiently for her.  Not texting or reading his e-mail.

When Virginia returned to the table, Matt’s face lit up.  “I thought maybe you didn’t like me after all, that you’d escaped out the back door,” he joked.

“I’m sorry I took so long,” she apologized, but he waved it away.

“It’s been a long time since you’ve dated, hasn’t it?” Matt asked gently.

Virginia fought back tears - of relief or shame, she couldn’t tell.  “Yes,” she finally managed.

“I appreciate that you didn’t sit here reciting a laundry list of everything wrong with your ex - and frankly, I don’t want to hear it now.  Bet you’ve got some wicked battle scars, huh?”

She nodded.

“Me too.  I really enjoyed meeting you, Virginia, and I’d like to see you again.  There’s a concert at the Bowl in two weeks,” he named a band she’d always loved. “Already have the tickets, and I’d like you to be my date.  Interested?”

A risk, but wasn’t everything?  Couldn’t she trust that this time, she’d see the warning signs and get out, if she needed to?  Have faith in herself?

She had left Frank, despite too many years of believing it was all her fault. I am strong.  I am smart.  I am brave.

And... I like Matt.  Virginia smiled with surprisingly heartfelt pleasure.  “Yes, please, Matt,” she said. “I’d like that, too.”


October is, among other things, Domestic Violence Awareness month in the United States.  Domestic violence is not simply about physical violence, but verbal, emotional, and financial abuse as well.  It can occur between spouses, in hetero or homosexual relationships, be inflicted by parents upon children, among siblings, or to elderly people by their adult children or caregivers.

Nobody deserves to be abused.

Some Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship
  • Your partner calls you names, yells at you, finds constant fault with you, frequently makes jokes that hurt your feelings, belittles you, cuts you off when you try to communicate or refuses to listen to you.  This is Verbal Abuse.
  • Your partner pressures you, openly or covertly, to minimize or cut off contact with family and friends, because “they’re trying to split us up,” or s/he doesn't like them.  Over time, you may even side with your partner, against your friends and family.  You may be experiencing Stockholm Syndrome.
  • Your partner completely controls the finances and you have no clue how much money you have in the bank, where the accounts are, what credit card debt or loans the family has, and s/he shuts you down when you try to find out.  This may be Financial Abuse.
  • Your partner threatens to commit suicide if you should ever leave, or tells you if you leave him/her, “no one will ever love you like I do.”  Hopefully, this is actually true!  Click the link to learn more about what Domestic Abuse is.
If you are now, or have been, in an abusive relationship, please follow the links above to learn more, and know that it is not your fault.  Also know, that you are not a fool or a weakling if you know you are being abused and yet do not feel ready to to end the relationship.  Nobody else is in your shoes, nobody else can tell you when it is right for you to go, or to make your partner leave, or whether in fact the relationship might still be saved through professional intervention.  Call the hotlines, talk to people who understand your situation, and develop a plan.  You, like Virginia, are strong and beautiful and you will get through this.

The Romantic Friday Writers weekly blogfest is open to all writers of romantic fiction.  Wanna join the party?  Click here for submission info.

I hope you found the story above entertaining, romantic and hopeful.  My goal, besides writing to the prompt of Fearful Heart, is to show that those who have been in abusive relationships can find love again.  Maybe Virginia and Matt won't work out, maybe they will, but even though it's scary, IMO, love is worth taking risks.

Please feel free to offer and and all feedback, and let me know if you found the story too preachy.  (I know, I know the part after it may feel that way.)