Excerpt from my manuscript, “Just Hold On”

She walked into the bathroom, looking at herself in the mirror. A stranger peered back at her. Who was this woman? She reached up, touching her face. Her eyes were dull and lifeless, with dark purple circles under them. Her skin was pale, her cheeks gaunt. Her hands fell to her belly, flat and empty. She remembered how it felt knowing Katie was growing within her. Sometimes, her stomach actually ached from losing Katie, as if she had never been born and had, instead, been ripped directly away from her womb and died. The deep, visceral pain in her gut would never leave, she knew it would always haunt her, hurt her. Marnie’s fingers traced the dark pinkish-purple stretch marks that striped her belly and hips. Once, she had hated those marks, hated the ugly scars they left on her skin. She felt the uneven groove of a particularly large streak, watching herself in the mirror as she ran her finger up and down, up and down, noting the puckering of her skin, the way some of the marks had faded, while others seemed to have grown darker. Now, she thought, these were some of the only external reminders that Katie had been real, that she had ever existed. She covered her breasts with her hands, remembering how different they had felt to her when they were heavy with milk, swollen. Marnie stared into the mirror and could almost see Katie’s round baby head resting in the crook of her arm, nursing, suckling contentedly. Closing her eyes, she imagined the way Katie’s silken baby hair felt against her chest, the way a stray curl or two would stick to her little face. Never would she see that again, or feel the weight of her baby in her arms.

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