Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Shattered Reflections - Author's Notes

As a child, Emily’s father holds her mirror, and the reflection that she sees is dark and distorted. She struggles against the reflection, which is a battle with self image. She strives to change the image that she sees reflected in that mirror. It is a conflict with no chance of success, but as a child she does not recognize this. She fights to shatter the image reflected in the mirror, by being kinder, looking better, and giving more in an effort to be worthy and reflect a good self-image.

As discussed in the last post, Connections, Emily has two positive influences in her life. Her grandmother adores her and her friend, Reid, enjoys their young friendship. Is it enough to overcome the image reflected in that mirror? Will the prolonged exposure to her father obscure the month that she spends with her Grandmother, and the time she spends with Reid? Would she have a better chance to survive that dreadful self-image if she revealed her father’s mirror with her grandmother or Reid? In her battle to shatter that image and the ugliness that she sees, why would she?

In this passage from Pages in the Wind, Emily seems unable to understand why Reid wants her as a best friend:

Emily savored every moment when she was with Reid, always in agreement with him for she knew that he was the most interesting, exciting, and strongest person that she would ever know. When she was with Reid she did not have to pretend to be someone else. He wanted to be with her although she did not understand why.

As Emily matures into a beautiful young woman, how will the continued abuse affect her emotional maturity? If she cannot reconcile the distinction between the love of her grandmother versus the hatred of her father, can she shatter the mirror? If she cannot alter the image, she is left with the distorted self-image provided by her father. When Emily falls in love, will she hand the mirror to her lover? How will this dangerous transfer of power impact her life?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Connections

Emily’s self-worth is tainted by the reflection provided by her father. In her young mind, the belief that she is defective is reinforced by the absence of abuse to her brother, and her mother’s indifference. The prevailing cruelty was inflicted by her father in private; nevertheless, her mother knew that Emily was tortured by her father. Emily was only able to escape the violence when she was out of the house, spending time with Reid, who was attentive and desired her friendship.

This is illustrated in Pages in the Wind with the following passage:

       She walked quietly around her father, and days would go by, and she would manage to avoid     her father’s physical and mental abuse. She would try to be invisible around her father, tiptoeing out of the room when he was near, listening for the sound of his footsteps, and retreating to her bedroom when he came home from work. If he didn’t see her, he couldn’t hurt her. During these times, she would go outside to enjoy the freedom of being away from that house. Her creative mind and joyful energy would emerge as she ran down the street in anticipation that her best friend, Reid, would be home.

In Emily’s young mind, she does not question her opposing worlds. She follows the path set by her parents, but she does not seem to reflect that image when she is away from them. Will Emily make that critical connection between the actions of her father and how it has impacted her life? How she makes that connection, and when she makes it – will become an integral part of her story.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Emily and Reid - Young Love or the Foundation for Tragedy?

Author's Note

In Pages in the Wind, Emily and Reid have a tender relationship based on mutual affection and needs. This relationship will become an important part of Emily’s life. Emily is drawn to Reid but her feelings for him are partially fueled by her vivid imagination and her need for a hero. The question is whether her imagination and desire for an escape from her abusive father will set her up for heartbreak. Reid is a match for her father in terms of strength, but is he really a young parallel to the father she is trying to escape?

                                                  
You decide as Reid and Emily share a typical afternoon in this passage from Pages in the Wind:

Reid was mischievous and fearless, and Emily enjoyed the edginess of his personality. He loved Emily’s imagination and together they fulfilled a need in each other. Reid enjoyed walking on the edge, and testing the boundaries between right and wrong. His outgoing nature and need for excitement often got him into trouble with the adults in the neighborhood. He enjoyed pranks and was relentless in his search for new exploits. Emily easily spun fantasies to fit Reid’s love of heroism, casting him as the leading man saving the neighborhood from impending doom. Of course, every hero needs a villain and Emily would develop an elaborate tale to excite Reid and send him on a childhood adventure with Emily at this side.

Suddenly, Reid spotted a gallon of paint leaning against the side of a dumpster at the corner store. Reid grabbed the paint with the brush still sitting in the yellow paint and ran to the nearest house.

“Em, don’t you think this fence needs some paint?”

“What?” Emily replied even though she knew what he meant.

Reid laughed as he impulsively painted a large yellow face on the gate.

“Come on, let’s run!” Reid shouted to Emily.

As Emily turned to look at Reid, she felt a strong hand on the back of her shirt. She turned around to see a glaring adult, obviously irritated. Reid, far out of reach of the angry adult but within sight of Emily, turned around and retreated to face the scowling adult. Emily lined up with Reid, feeling like a criminal about to face a stream of bullets to pay for her crime. The adult directed his anger at Reid, demanding that he return the next day to re-paint the fence. Emily kept her face down, ashamed and politely listening and waited for her punishment. To her surprise, he did not address her, and turned and walked back to the house.

After they were away from the watchful eye of authority, Reid shouted about the unfairness of the punishment as he threw rocks in anger. Reid kicked the ground and shouted “how dare that asshole punish me!” He vowed to get even, as he aimed the last rock at the nearest target. Emily walked quietly with Reid, calmly agreeing with him because she knew that was what he wanted to hear. Inwardly, she didn’t understand his reaction. She wondered if she was caught in another world, where the rules were different, and the lines of right and wrong were blurred. Still, she didn’t understand his reaction. He did deface property. It wasn’t a door left open, a faucet left dripping, or a glance in the wrong direction. The punishment was not harsh; it was only an apology and fixing what he had defaced. To Emily it seemed like a gift not a punishment. She could pay back what she had witnessed, and not feel guilty. She wasn’t threatened, she wasn’t demeaned, and she wasn’t beaten. Emily glanced at Reid, relieved that he had settled down and regained his cheerful demeanor. She imagined what he would do if her father tried to hurt him. He was her hero, waiting for the time that he would confront her father for the atrocities that he had inflicted upon her. She looked down at the ground and the shadows cast by their bodies, and noticed that he leaned into her as he began to talk about what they would do the next day. She politely listened; never taking her eyes off the shadow of the boy that she knew would save her from a life of terror and helplessness.