Writing: Character Background Story
Word Count: 985
About a year after her escape, she saw a pretty little garden with a few roses poking innocently out and was struck by the scene so, that she sat down and tried to capture the moment immediately. The lady of the house noticed this, and after about half an hour, came to investigate.
Understanding the awkwardness of the situation, Dawn apologized profusely and explained truthfully her own situation and reason for painting the garden. Touched, the lady invited her in for a drink.
“My name is Sarah Fellen, what’s yours, sweetie?” the lady called, pouring tea for two.
“Dawn Eternia, mam’. No surname.”
“Is that so? Strange indeed…” she set the tea out and welcomed Dawn sit across from the pretty kitchen table from her. “Why is that?”
“My mother abandoned me when I was young because I wouldn’t die when she tried to drown me,” she paused. Here was where the listener usually turned off, horrified that they were in the presence of someone so vile their own mother would be tempted to kill them. But Sarah simply sipped her tea and nodded for Dawn to continue. She did.
“The police found me and named me after the first two words I said. They left room for a surname so that when they found my parents, no adjustments would be needed. When I understood, I decided against ever taking one, for reasons I can’t recall.”
At Sarah’s tacit urging, she continued to summarize her life in the next half hour. When she was finished with the story and several cups of tea, Sarah stood and beckoned her to the living room.
She pointed at a monotone photo of a young couple on a bridge somewhere in the middle of a wall timeline of photos. “I was married 21 years ago to my college sweetheart, Timothy Fellen. ”
Her finger moved along the wall, a few photos down, to color shot of Mr. Fellen, in navy garb. “He joined the military a few years ago, and was killed in action a year ago, this very day.”
“I’m sorry,” Dawn whispered.
“Don’t be,” she said, smiling sadly, “I am paid a small monthly compensation, but I started working at my friend’s bakery so I can exist without it.”
She strolled across the room to extract a neat stack of letters from a drawer. “See here, how he ended all his letters.”
…As always, I wish you the best. If I don’t write within a week, it means I’m MIA, if I don’t write within a fortnight, it means I’m already with you. Have fun with life, and live every possible moment happy.
She fanned a few of the pages out to show that they all ended the same way.
So sweet yet sad…Dawn thought, reading the same words again and again. But that is love, isn’t it, the real, true kind? He doesn’t have to be with her, so long as she’s happy, he’s happy….
“This is the first one he sent me when he was sent overseas:” Sarah was saying. She selected one of the letters and laid the others on the table. Again, she didn’t read it aloud, but let Dawn read it herself.
…At my funeral, I want you to wear the pink dress we agreed looked like your prom dress. Or whatever. Just don’t wear mourning colors: no black, no white. You can plant the rest of the icebergs though, (white rose, whatever you want to call it) but not near my trees. I mean to say, don’t mourn me. Ever. It’d make me sad to be dead, and my ghostly self wouldn’t be able to feast in peace.
As always, I wish you the best. If I don’t write within a week, it means I’m MIA, if I don’t write within a fortnight, it means I’m already with you. Have fun with life, and live every possible moment happy.
Night had fallen as the two were conversing about their lives. Sarah invited Dawn to stay for the night, and offered her the room that—when the couple had bought the house—had been designed for the child that never came.
Hesitantly, Dawn stayed for the night.
The next day, Sarah prepared a simple breakfast—nothing grand—but to Dawn, who had at most seen a glass of milk or a bowl of cold porridge for breakfast, the cereal and milk were as if an important guest were coming.
“I was wondering, Dawn, if you would care to stay? I mean, if you don’t have anywhere, you could always live here.”
After a moment of surprise and thought, Dawn replied, “Thank you, Mrs. Fellon, but are you sure? I mean…”
“I have a good amount saved in the bank, and my wages decently cover the bills and necessities each month. I’m afraid the nearest school is quite a while away though, and I just sold the car. I used to be a teacher though, so I could homeschool you a little.”
Another moment of silence passed and Dawn nodded slowly, quietly promising herself that she would continue to do commissions and sell artwork to earn her part. “If it isn’t too much trouble, that is.”
“It isn’t,” Sarah assured her. “I just have one small request, something Timothy would have asked…”
Two small pieces of metal arrived in the mail later, complete with a chain and little silencers. From that day forward, she kept them on.
In addition to drawing commissions for the neighbors and people around the neighborhood—who were distant, but not foreign anymore—Dawn received daily lessons in writing, science, history, and mathematics. At night, she helped Sarah in the kitchen and with the cleaning.