This is a bit different from what you might expect. Laura Grace is grieving and Samantha tries to comfort her. I'll add a **TRIGGER WARNING** There is the beginnings of a new revelation of the abuse Samantha has suffered, but I stop before the recounting.
My thirty-fifth anniversary had come and was rapidly going. I turned over in the bed one more time. Tom, how I miss you! We’d had a long, happy marriage, but today there had been no card, no special supper. No restatement of the vows we’d spoken so many years ago. No Tom. Nothing. All I needed was one more night, one more hug, one more kiss.
How was I supposed to go on from the loss of half of myself? A soul-wrenching tear ripped my heart again with every heartbeat, every time I saw the gold band on my finger or a picture of his sun-kissed hair.
Dragging air into my lungs, I blinked back tears. If not for Samantha, I’d descend into the pit of despair that had called to me since Tom’s death, letting the world move on. Still, I lingered on the ledge with the dark depths reaching up, offering me oblivion. I dug in my heels against the pull because of her. I’d buck up under the weight of grief and smile bravely like I had while she and Kaylee had roller skated rings around me today. Their giggles had barely touched my heart. She deserved better.
Tom would’ve loved her so much. She needed his balance to her life—a man who didn’t beat women to death and didn’t rape children.
The tears itched behind my eyelids. I swallowed hard, but they hovered on the edge of my lashes. I turned my face into Tom’s pillow to muffle the wave of sobs that welled up. Hugging his pillow, I slid my hand into the case, clutching his Sand Gnats tee-shirt that hid beneath it, and let my grief pour out.
A cool hand patted my head. I relaxed into the touch, the fleeting memory of his hand. I’d accept it, since it was better than being alone. Not much, but enough to ease my ache a bit.
Then I jumped, strangling on a sob. Faint light from the hall gleamed on golden curls and slender arms that slid around my shoulders, holding me tight.
“Shhh, Momma.” She began to rock in time to the same rhythm I used with her after her nightmares. “Hush. It’ll be all right. I’ll make it better.”
My breath hitched, but I leaned into my daughter seeking the solace her arms offered. “Thank you, angel. I’m just missing Tom. Go back to bed.”
Her cool, light fingers touched my eyes. She then wiped away the tears and placed a gentle kiss on my cheeks. She settled against me with a firmer grasp. “Let me love you, Momma.” Then her lips found mine.
I jerked back. “No, Samantha.” An icy wind blew through me. It beat hard against my heart as fear and revulsion shoved my mind into overdrive. I groped for an explanation for what had made her drop that kiss on my lips.
“No.” I peeled her arms from my shoulders, holding my breath for an instant to calm the terror that raced through my thoughts. I had to find a way to understand why she’d kissed me in such a way. Only we had to get out of the bedroom where we could face each other in the light. “Let’s go to the kitchen and talk.”
Zan Marie: I apologize for not being able to respond well to this -- it is indeed an extremely triggering passage even without the details of the past abuse. That said, I wonder about your story, if it might not be possible to pull together the widow's mourning into a powerful paragraph or two and then the young girl coming in to comfort her in a passage or two? For example, the woman could be imagining her husband there with her and then have to pull back from a wonderful memory to respond to the girl -- so you wouldn't have to detail the thinking that the girl had kept her from plummeting over the edge; it would be demonstrated by what she does in response to the girl coming into the room and interrupting her reverie. Then the emotion of grief and longing for the past could be even stronger and the sense of place even more solid -- and the transition to another room where the two could talk further is natural and logical.
This was a hard assignment - I haven't managed to post anything yet so good for you! This is painful and something many readers would not want to face. I think you handle it well. I think you could tighten up the beginning of the scene. It's obvious from the way Laura is feeling that she had a long happy marriage and she misses her husband so I don't think you need to tell the reader that - it seems redundant.
What a jolt! This could have been a somewhat routine exploration of grief, but--zing. Out of a state of mourning comes a plot surprise. Am I going to be seeing her daughter in a new way, a way that makes me face something uncomfortable? We'll have to wait and see. You've got me entertained enough to make me wait for illumination to come.