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Short Story: The Shame

Updated on September 13, 2012

I remember when I was a little girl I dreamt of fairies and unicorns, and all things pretty. But now that I am older I realise that none of that is real, and now everything I dream of is ghastly, with ugly streaks of pain, fear, and most of all, shame. If only I’d opened my eyes sooner – they would not be haunted by this madness. But the damage is done and now I will have to live with the shame of it for the rest of my life.

I was naïve, that’s all I can tell you. My parents took no notice of me so when it happened I didn’t understand, until the clawing at my face and screaming happened. My counsellor doesn’t understand me; it’s as if, at times, I’m speaking a different language.

“Why?”

“I don’t know why.”

That’s the main conversation we have.

Walking over to the reception now, the familiar fear and shame rise up to the surface, only to drift back down again as the receptionist smiles at me with assurance. Kindness. I’ve never been kind I realise, and the shame resurfaces immediately. And as I walk through that door, the feeling only intensifies. I see her sat with him. Oh the pain I’ve caused her. I nearly slam the door shut and run out, but I know I can’t avoid her forever so instead I close it behind me and sit down, completing the triangle. I look from my counsellor to her and back again, over and over, until she opens her mouth to speak. My eyes rest shamefully on her.

“Charlene. Why?”

I want to answer but my tears prevent me. I loved her daughter really, but I did it anyway. And as I sob, to my surprise she shifts her chair towards me so that she can fold me in her arms. And over my gulps and hiccoughs, I can hear her sniffing quietly, which only makes me think again of what I have done, causing me to burst into fresh tears.

What feels like a lifetime afterwards we finally break apart, and I pull myself together with such a force that the waterworks come to an abrupt end. I look at the poor woman, studying her mascara stained cheeks, and the little smile she gives me. And as I study it, I notice that the smile doesn’t just contain the sorrow and grief I had expected for the loss of her beloved Kate, but also something else.

Sympathy.

For me.

And so the story spills: the party, the drinking, the jealousy, the rooftop, the fight, the fall. And so now, although I still feel terrible, although my mind is still guilt-ridden...

Although I still carry that shame, I now know that what my counsellor constantly tells me is true, and I’m not alone. I will always feel that shame, but the support I will be receiving will help me through it. And so, as I walk out that door, as I walk past that reception and back home, for the first time in six months I do something I never thought to be possible again:

I smile.

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    • AUPADHYAY profile image

      ANIL KUMAR UPADHYAY 

      4 years ago from INDIA, UTTAR PRADESH STATE, KANPUR CITY

      Very beautiful and awesome story you have written cmiller0161, I really enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 

      5 years ago from US

      This reminds me of another writer here telling these stories that are true. You have a different and interesting twist. Very good.

    • cmiller0161 profile imageAUTHOR

      Claire Miller 

      5 years ago

      Thank you guys! The Urbanite, that's exactly what I was trying to do with this piece; I'm glad you noticed that.

      And Carly, you totally nailed it! I agree. If we were able to just move on and forget all the bad things that have happened in the past, we would find that we're merely robots; a cold shell functioning just because it has to. Our mistakes change us, but more often than not they change us for the better, because we're always learning. Every day - whether we're 8 or 80 - we're learning.

      Thank you again to both of you :)

    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 

      5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      oh, wow. You are a sensational writer. I felt every emotions and wanted to reach out and hug her myself. I like how you ended it too...

      Not leaving the reader with the stark heaviness of the shame, but not completely lifting it either. There is a beginning of an integration. And isn't that what is supposed to happen? We can't totally hid ourselves of the past or past traumas, but we can integrate them with other parts of ourselves. The do not have to be the whole of who we are. They are a part of who we are, but not the sum. For the sum is all our parts, the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful.

      This was beautiful.

    • The Urbanite profile image

      The Urbanite 

      5 years ago

      ...this is like a gorgeous abstract painting just hanging there and telling a different story to each one who gazes at it...

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