To Know Her excerpt

I’m pleased to offer an excerpt from my novel, To Know Her, a tale of tough choices, love and acceptance.  As my writing instructor said, “This book will cause you to hug those you love even closer…and listen to them as well.”  Enjoy!

A bit of background:  Juliana lies in a coma as a result of a car accident.  Here, Susan and Will, her parents, are with her in the hospital, and discover Juliana has secrets they were never aware of.

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Susan lifted Juliana’s hospital gown away from her hip.  “Look,” she said, stepping to one side, but holding the gown so Juliana’s smooth skin was exposed.

Will bit the inside of his cheek, anticipating some awful unknown, but what he saw made him laugh.

There, on Juliana’s right hip, in all her glory, was a small tattoo of Minnie Mouse.  

“Do you think this is funny?” Susan’s voice was unbelieving.  “A tattoo!  Did you know about this?”  She let the gown fall back into place.  The nurses put the sheets in place and left the room.

“No, of course not!  I didn’t know.”  Will was quick to reassure, knowing Susan would be furious if she thought Juliana told him about the tattoo and not told her.  Or worse, if he knew all along and deliberately did not share it with her.  He said, to keep that subject from coming up, “When on earth did she get that?”  He laughed again.  “Kind of cute, don’t you think?”

“Cute.  Cute?”  Susan’s voice betrayed concern more than anger.  “When did she do this?  Why didn’t she tell us?”

“Probably figured we’d cut her out of the will,” Will joked, then looked quickly at Susan, wondering how she’d take it.

But Susan had her hands up to her mouth and didn’t respond.  Instead, Susan reached out to touch Juliana’s hair, shifted a few loose strands off her face and ran her fingertips along her cheek.  Susan shook her head and turned to Will. “Did she think we’d disapprove?  Was she—afraid of us?”

“No,” Will said.  “I’m sure she just figured it was easier not to tell us.  That way she didn’t have to worry whether we’d yell at her or not.  You can’t even see it when she’s dressed.”

“Even through underpants?  It wouldn’t show even then, would it?”  Susan seemed to look for acceptance, for acknowledgment this was normal for an eighteen-year old girl.

Will could give her that, even if he had no idea if it truly was normal.  He knew tattoos seemed to be the rage now, but he saw them mostly on what they used to call the wild crowd.  Their Juliana certainly didn’t qualify for that label.  “Aw, kids get tattoos all the time now,” he said to Susan.  “This is nothing.  Look where it is—on her hip.  It’s not like she was flaunting it or something.  It’s not a skull or snake, or worse.  Just a cute little Minnie Mouse.  She probably got Minnie because it reminded her of our trip to DisneyWorld.  Remember?”

Susan’s face relaxed.  She smiled.  “Yes, that was a great trip.  I remember, all she wanted to do was have her picture taken with Minnie Mouse.  Minnie, Minnie, Minnie!  That’s all she talked about for weeks afterward.  She carried that photo around everywhere.  You must be right.”  But her face clouded.  

“Of course I am,” Will stepped in before Susan had a chance to go on.  “Just a reminder of good times.”

“But I still don’t get it.  Why didn’t she tell us?  I can’t believe we never saw it, never suspected.  Did you hear her talk about a tattoo?  I wonder who else knows about this.  Does Katie?”

Will forestalled what he saw as her next question.  “No, we’re not going to ask Katie.  Katie has enough on her mind right now.  She doesn’t need us prying into their lives together.  It’s only a tattoo, Susan.  It’s not that important.”

“Maybe not,” Susan said, turning to Juliana and curling her fingers around Juliana’s.  “But first the bottle, now this tattoo.  What else don’t we know?”