Should Never Be Seen


My daughter has a scar on her forehead. She tripped and crashed, headfirst. The sharp edges were covered with corner guards: she wasn’t the first. The words ‘it could have been worse’ were little comfort – we had other plans.

It was the first morning of a much-needed holiday. I wasn’t prepared for the hospitals, for the babble of foreign words, for doing it all alone. I held her flailing arms down while doctors stitched her perfect skin, her desperate eyes staring up at me pleading, not understanding why I was assisting. Tears fell for each of the many things around her that I was too weak to put right.

Afterwards, told to avoid water and the playground, we built sandcastles and rebuilt our lives.


Maybe I should have done more to support the healing. I tried, but exhaustion, then emptiness, took over. I neglected the wound, and then it became forever: each deep and ragged white line so visible, where once was flawless youth and innocence. I hoped she wouldn’t hold it against me; I prayed she would understand.


I imagined she would hide it behind hair or makeup, but she wore her hair tied back, only ever making up her eyes, her teenage skin still clear but for that one mark. When the questions began, I was honest but careful not to break her heart. I hid inside myself, covered in warpaint.


‘You’re wearing those colours together? You look like a tomato!’

‘I know, I look bright and fruity; fabulous, isn’t it?’

A rhetorical question, she doesn’t expect or want an answer, she thinks she looks fabulous; therefore, she does. She doesn’t care for the 'shoulds' or 'should nots'. I can imagine her friend’s face on the other side of the door: gobsmacked. But something else too: admiration. The way I feel each day. How did she grow up so confident?


‘Mum, Dad’s wife,’ she pauses briefly.

‘You can say her name, Ailith,’ I laugh, finally at ease with the permanence of his other woman.

‘She said she could get my scar lasered for me.’


‘I know, what a cheek.’

‘I’m sorry, love,’ I say, stroking the point on her forehead that marks the change in our lives.

‘I think it hurt you more than me, Mum. I remember your tears falling on my face. I remember thinking it must be bad if she’s crying – you’re the strongest person I know. Anyway, I told her to keep her money and asked Dad to get me a car instead – we can get the shopping easier then.’

My daughter has a scar on her forehead, proud for all to see; I have just realised, that is down to me.

About The Author

Claire lives in Austria and escapes back to her mother tongue through her fiction writing. She has short stories published or upcoming in print and online at places including Funny Pearls, Fudoki Magazine, Blinkpot, Grindstone Literary and Reflex Fiction. She has been shortlisted and longlisted in various international competitions.