Report Cards

Report Cards

By Gentle Thorns

Rating:Not sure about the rating but I think it's pretty high because of abuse.
Summary: It's a character piece that focuses on why Tara is the way she is


Quiet, conscientious, needs to participate more in class

Tara knows what her report card’s going to say before the teacher gives it to her. It’ll say the same thing they’ve all said since her mother died. There’s only so long that the school will permit you to grieve for the loss of a parent, after that you’re supposed to move on. You aren’t supposed to get more withdrawn every day and hde your face behind your hair and stutter to the point at which you hate talking to people.

Of course, Tara knows they don’t understand why she flinches away from people who try to touch her or why she always looks so unhappy. After all, her father is a pillar of the local community and, while her mother’s death was unfortunate, she’s old enough to be over it now.

She’s spent most of her life in this school, with the same people telling each other every year what a shame it is that that pretty Maclay girl is so withdrawn. The town gossips about her, what a blow it must be for her father that his daughter is so incapable of dealing with the world, such a pretty, clever little thing she is too.

Sometimes she just wants to go against her Dad and Donny, run away, hope that she can find a way to control the demon inside her. Sometimes she wants to use the talent her mother fostered in her to simply vanish one day before her Dad and Donny break her into little pieces, break her completely. Before someone notices how different she really is and burns her alive.

Maybe someday she will. Maybe one day there’ll be freedom and love and life and the things that other people seem to expect without even thinking about it. Maybe there’ll be a different kind of fire that will claim her and a life where she’s accepted. She thinks about it a lot, getting away from this life. Maybe she’ll go somewhere where people like her are more common. Maybe she’ll go across the country to Cleveland, she hears there’s a hellmouth there.

The only thing Tara Maclay’s certain about is that she doesn’t want the kind of life her mother had. She doesn’t want a life where her husband will abuse her and then beat her to death in front of her daughter. She doesn’t want a life like hers right now, either, where her father and brother hurt her and everyone sympathises with them.

Quiet, conscientious, needs to participate more in class

She knows already what her Dad’s going to say when he reads it. Knows that there will be belt marks on her back the next day and she’ll flinch away from people more than usual even though he’ll tell her every time he hits her that she needs to stop being so fucking quiet.

She knows he’ll tell her all about the ways in which she’s inadequate, can feel the tears gathering behind her eyes even now. He likes her to cry. Likes her to kneel in front of him and beg for forgiveness and for him to stop. Likes to wipe her tears away with his hand and tell her how much she resembles her mother.

It’s an old routine. What he does every time she gets her report card. A tradition she hates. Her skin crawls when he touches her so gently and she almost forgives him for all the pain he causes. Can almost forgive him for beating her mother till she bled and died, all the while begging for him to stop, blood soaking into the carpet and mingling with her tears. A stain that Tara had been forced to wash out.

Quiet, conscientious, needs to participate more in class

Eight words. She stares at them on the paper in front of her. She wants to be more than those eight words written by people who know nothing about her. Seventeen years in this small town and no-one has ever asked her why she flinches. Seventeen years and no-one has connected the dots. Seventeen years and no-one sees her.

In one more year she’ll be eighteen. An adult. Old enough to go away and never come back if she wants. She doesn’t know if eighteen will feel different from seventeen, if she’ll be any less afraid. What she does know is that she has to get away from here. The good people of her dusty, prejudiced hometown aren’t known for leaving. Maybe three people have gone away to college in the last three years. But she wants to anyway.

She’s got a good GPA. She likes to study and she knows that there are places out there for smart people even if they are quiet and a little odd like her. She’s going to apply to places with a mystical connection, where there’ll be a chance she can find a cure, not be a demon anymore. She’s going to work hard and be more than Hank Maclay’s quiet daughter.

She tired of being this Tara Maclay. She’s tired of being different and afraid. She’s tired of darkness and pain. She’s just tired. So she’s leaving. She’ll find some way to get Dad and Donny to let her go. She has to. She can’t live this life any more. She has to go find another life.

Maybe somewhere out there she’ll find the Tara she wants to be. Find the bluebird of happiness and the sunshine. Maybe it’ll just happen for her. One day she’ll wake up and realise she’s there. She’s happy and safe. Maybe if she lets it, opens the door, the sunlight will find her. And she’ll be lit up the way others are. The way she’s always wanted to be.

Tara Maclay is going to be different. She’s going to be braver. She’s going to go out into the world and find her light and maybe one day she’ll come back stronger and face her fear. Possibly she’ll come back beaten instead, find the real world as harsh as her place here. Either way, she wants to know.

The End

Feed Gentle Thorns
Visit Gentle Thorns
Return to Writercon Archive