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I continue to be so amazed by the stories I’m told. Today I received an email that taught me more about the dynamics of step-children to a woman without children of her own who then miscarries. Inspired by this, the character Melinda, our wife of a man with two kids from a previous marriage, will be enduring some mean-spirited comments about children from the ex-wife at a volleyball game where they watch the girl play.  I think it might go something like this: 

“Look at that baby!” the ex-wife says, pointing across the stands at a high school girl bouncing a toddler on her thigh. “Born to a teenager. Some people just don’t know when they aren’t supposed to be mothers. It might have been better for everyone if she had lost it.”

Melinda grips the edge of the wood stands, biting her lip to avoid crying or screaming, or both. “What a spike!” she says instead, nodding her head toward her step-daughter out on the court. “They really ought to move her up to varsity.”

The scene might continue, but the point comes a little later:

At home, her knee pads discarded in the foyer, the step-daughter says to Melinda, “Mom said she saw my friend Patrice with her baby in the stands. She thinks babies should only come when they are wanted and planned for, and to people who deserve them.”

Melinda snaps at her, hurt that the step-daughter would say that to her, only a few weeks after her miscarriage. “I don’t think any of us know anything about why or when babies come or why they are lost,” she says. “You should watch your mouth or you’ll end up mean and angry like your mother.”

She immediately regrets her words when the girl falls on the sofa, crying. “Mom is happy you lost the baby,” she says, her voice muffled by the cushions. “I don’t know why she’s being so mean. But she forgets I also lost my baby sister.”

Melinda’s knees buckle and she folds up on the floor by the sofa. She wants to take her step-daughter’s hand, but they haven’t ever had that sort of closeness, so she simply clasps them together in her own lap. “I’m sorry,” she says. “I didn’t know you were sad about the baby. Sometimes it feels like I’m the only one who ever thinks about her.”

These sorts of scenes just sort of come to me. I’ll start piecing them together soon. All your comments and stories help so much. I can’t even tell you. 

June 2023