*WARNING: This blog is intended for a mature audience. Its contents may include adult situations, violence and sensitive issues that some people might find disturbing. Please read at your own discretion.

27 July 2013

A Pair of Brown Eyes: Chapter 07


*WARNING: This chapter contains sensitive issues which some people might find disturbing.


It was going to rain today. Claire's limbs always ached when it rained. Ever since that day, almost nine years before.


For the whole of the morning, she had been feeling the all too familiar numbness in her arms. She was just about to do her hair when a sharp pain in her shoulder caused her to wince in anguish.


The scar in her belly was giving her the most pain, but it was no wonder, the memories were still acute, adding to her distress. She remembered everything quite vividly...


She remembered how her body temperature had suddenly risen, without warning, giving her an unbearable headache...


She remembered that terrible moment in which she had become aware of what was happening to her, and remembered how utterly scared she had been...


She remembered the excruciating pain, accompanied by a fit of nausea...


She remembered the dizziness and her conscience gradually leaving her as she had felt herself fainting...


She remembered the blood dripping from her body, and how she couldn't keep her tears from falling...


And she remembered how, for months afterwards, she had kept to her room, crawled in bed, barely eating, having all sorts of mixed feelings...


However, Claire didn't want her Sunday to be wasted away, so she finished her coiffure and put a little make-up on. There were many parks in this town she wanted to explore, and neither her pain nor the rain was going to prevent her from that pleasure. The air was full of that eery feeling that usually preceded a storm, and the dim lights gave the streets a surreal melancholy to which Claire was immediately drawn; it better agreed with her thoughtful and quiet temperament.


She had just arrived at the park when she saw Dr. Stuart, apparently taking a stroll, like herself. He noticed her immediately, and stood there waving at her. As handsome as always, dressed in his impeccable three-piece suit. Since he had already seen her, there was no avoiding him but, did she want to? She was sincerely happy to see him, but at the same time she always felt uneasy in his presence. She wasn't accostumed to receiving such attentions from men, and sometimes even resented his politeness, not knowing what he was expecting in return. But, on the other hand, he had always acted gentlemanlike towards her; perhaps she could trust him, after all.


He approached the place where she was staying, and slightly bowed. "What a coincidence, Mrs. Parker. Do you come here often?"

"No, I had never come here before."

"Then, I'm afraid you haven't chosen the best of times for your first visit." He remarked, briefly glancing at the threatening dark sky. "There's a nice coffehouse accross the street from here. Would you allow me to invite you to a cup of tea?"

Claire felt that she was probably heading up to a dangerous position, but accepted Andrew's invitation. She was enjoying her new lifestyle more than she had ever imagined, and for once, she was willing to experience everything life had to offer her, even if it was just such a little thing as sharing a hot drink with a new, yes, she would call him that, friend.


They were lucky enough to get to the coffehouse before the rain intensified, so there was no real need for them to hurry. Nevertheless, Claire found herself clinging to his arm for support a little more than was necessary, as she unexpectedly realised.


The place was cosy and nicely decorated, with carpeted floors and tablecloths of soft linen. They took a seat on an empty table and started a conversation while they awaited their order.

"You played beautifully the other evening at my sister's. Did you really compose that yourself?" Dr. Stuart's question seemed to be meant as a compliment to her.


"Yes." She answered, hoping to sound as nonchalant as possible. If he just knew..., she wouldn't even be here talking to him if it hadn't been for her limited abilities as a musician...



Claire couldn't say she was happy that her father had passed away, but she wasn't grieved either. He had been an indifferent parent, and she wasn't enough of a good daughter to care for him more than he had for her. If only she had ben a boy... perhaps then her father had loved her more, or anything at all. But as a woman, she had had no saying in how to live her life, everything had been decided for her, the only thing remaining for her to do was to acquiesce to whatever he chose for her as gracefully as she could, even if it led to the misery her life had become.


After the funeral, Claire went to her father's house, only now it was her own; theoretically at least, because she knew better. He had not told her anything -as if he ever did- but she was sure he would want to sell the whole property as soon as possible, it didn't matter that the decision should be hers. That's precisely why she had decided to take as many things as she could carry by herself and at least salvage those.

It was strange being back here and seeing her old room. A lifetime ago, a very different girl from the one standing there now, used to cherish all these things, and read all the books on the bookshelf behind her, and look at that unicorn picture for hours imagining all sorts of fairy tales with charming princes. But that naive, spirited girl was nowhere to be found, and Claire hardly remembered how it felt like being her. Anyway, this was no trip down memory lane. She had a task in mind, and she began rummaging through the drawers in her dresser. But what she found was something she hadn't put in there.


Why hadn't her father never thought of giving her those letters? She was sure he hadn't deemed they were important enough to waste his precious time in sending them back to her. So undeserving was she that even such an innocent enjoyment as exchanging correspondence with a friend was denied her? All those years she had simply assumed Ethel had completely forgotten her, and now she found that, on the contrary, it seemed that she had kept writing for months, not even discouraged by any lack of an answer.

For weeks after she had found those letters, Claire couldn't stop thinking about them. They were just full of childish nonsense, but finding them had meant the world to her. There was someone that cared for her, or at least for the person she had once been. Could she ever be that person again?, she kept asking herself.


One day, while she was reading her favourite music magazine, an advertisement caught her attention. She flipped the page back and forth perusing the whole of it, as an idea began to form in her mind. So engrossed was she, she didn't hear Eliza knocking on the door before entering her room.


"Miss Claire...," the elder maid said tentatively. It never ceased to put a grin on her face the fact that Eliza still called her as she used to when Claire was a child. "Do you wish me to help you get dressed for supper? Or shall I come later?"

"That can wait, but I have something to tell you. I've just read about a music school that is to be opened, and they are holding a composition contest; they're looking for some simple tunes to help their future students learn their basics. I'm thinking about entering it. I'm not exactly sure of winning..., but perhaps there will be other contests..." She was losing confidence as she talked, but then Eliza reassured her by tenderly grabbing her hand, a gesture she was familiar with, since they shared a far stronger bond than what was expected between a lady and her servant.

"Oh, yes, miss, please do it! This is your opportunity." Both women smiled.


She started that very afternoon, and for three whole years she entered every music contest she could. She would sit at her piano whenever she was alone, and play for hours, a pen always in her hand, until the tunes that played incessantly in her mind were put in black and white. Many times she wondered whether her effort would ever pay off, or if it was best to just accept her fate and give up. But when those moments came, she remembered, through Ethel's old letters, that there had been at least one person that had cared enough for her to want her happy.


As time passed, her skills improved, and with those her chances of winning. Prizes weren't usually very high, but her desperation made her patient, and all the money she earned, as short an amount as it were, went directly to an account -owned by a Claire Parker- in a Canadian bank that had a subsidiary in London.


The final step of her plan was the hardest, and the most dangerous as well. Selling her mother's piano was something that had to be done if she didn't want to suffer three more years of secrecy and the fear of being found out. Claire was at least relieved to see that the buyer was a trained musician and would treat the piano accordingly.

"It's been a pleasure doing business with you, madam. I'll put your piano to good use, I promise."

Everything else had already been taken care of. She just needed to change her clothes and be gone before any one noticed her absence.



Dr. Stuart's voice brought Claire back to the present. "You seem to know your way around children very well. My nieces adore you already." Was he complimenting her again? "Don't you have any of your own?, if I may ask. I'm sure you'll be a great mother one day."


Claire felt all colour leave her face, and her lips went parched. "I... I don't. And I won't."

"Don't be so hard with yourself. Of course you'll make a good mother. Or is it that you don't intend to marry again? You shouldn't lock yourself in at so young an age as yours."


Just at that moment, the waiter arrived with their order, and Claire turned to the task of pouring their drinks, in a vain attempt to compose herself, and gain some time. She knew he was expecting an answer, but she couldn't prevent her hands from shaking. "There is not a chance for me to remarry. At least, not until..." She finally managed to fill his cup. "Here's your tea." She said, while handing it to him.


"Are you alright, Mrs. Parker? Did I say something wrong? I'm so sorry, it wasn't my intention to bring you painful memories." He seemed genuinely concerned, but then he tasted his drink, and Claire could see him frown for some unknown reason.


"Uggggh. I'm afraid I should have told you I always take my tea with milk, but no sugar."


That was it. If there was any colour left in her face, it completely faded now. She prepared herself for the worst, and suddenly the tablecloth became a very interesting thing to look at, as she tried to avert his gaze for as long as she could. Then she realised that this might not be the best tactic and dared to look at him. Perhaps if she excused herself, his reaction wouldn't be so hard. "Oh, my! I had almost forgotten I'm always so clumsy... It didn't even... occurred to me... to ask you... I'm so... very sorry." She was stuttering by now. "Please, forgive me. Let me just ask for another cup and I'll pour you a fresh one."

"Oh, please, no need for you to look so miserable. It's nothing. Besides, it's been my fault, not yours."

This wasn't the answer she was expecting, and relaxed a little. "Is... it not?"


In response, he smiled reassuringly at her.

Chapter 08Chapter 06


  1. OMG this is gonna kill me. I want to know it all! I want to know her past, and what happened to her in the opening of this chapter. It's not good and I can take guesses but still. Whatever it was left her unable to have children I take it. Man, this is gonna drive me batty wanting to know. LOL

    Aww the good doctor is really taking to her. She had a really bad time with men in her past and that's such a terrible thing. She keeps waiting for the doctor to treat her like the others but he doesn't. He is slowly trying to break through her walls and I fear the day they crumble will be bad. :( Whatever she is running from is bad.

    I can't wait to have the whole story.

    1. Sorry, I don't want you to get killed :-(. But of course, leaving people guessing was the whole point of this chapter, so... perhaps I'm not so sorry after all :-P. *talks to self* ---> Stop it, Marta! Don't be so mean! LOL

      Seriously though, your guess is pretty much correct, Claire can bear no children, I think it's safe if I say that much.

      And, yes, the doctor is really, really, taken by her. Claire is still a little apprehensive, though. It's true she's expecting him to behave in a way he doesn't, and that catches her off guard and frightens her in a way. She has yet to decide if that's good or not.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

  2. Okay, thank you for giving us the tiniest speck of information possible only to leave us drooling like rabid dogs for more. :P

    At least we have an inkling as to how Claire started her independence. Selling the piano must've been hard. Still, better to sell it so that it can be used than to leave it collecting dust and not get played.

    I still don't like how Claire must've been treated in the past by men. I hope/know the doctor will set her straight on her presumptions, but I fear it will all lead (as Jazen said) to secrets being revealed and hurt feelings.

    Loved it, as always. :)

    1. LOL, you're welcome. I'm working really hard at improving my skills on giving as little information as possible :-P. Seriously, though, in this update I included some hints in the pics themselves that give some extra information. Have you taken a look at her face and hand in the first flashback ;-)?

      As you've seen, music is very important to her in more ways than one, so selling her mother's piano was very hard for her, but she had to do it because she needed that extra cash -she wasn't earning enouch money with her compositions.

      You're right in not liking how Claire has been treated in the past. As for the rest, we'll have to see how the doctor responds when/if he gets to know her secrets... It could be a good or a bad thing, or both. I'm not saying anything more ;-).

      Thanks, and I loved your comment, as always :-).

  3. Obviously, Claire still has a long way to go even if she already made that giant step to run...

    I really like how you always ad subtile hints, I swear I do, but STILL I WANT TO KNOW NOW *lol*

    1. Yes, Claire has already taken a major step by running away (after having planned it for three years!) but she still has a long way to go, as you said :-(.

      Thanks -I think ;-)-, it seems that subtlety is MY thing, only this time (as I told Mypalsim before) there are some extra clues in the pics.

  4. From the looks of it, either Claire had a miscarriage or she had an abortion (based on the scar on her belly). Since she was very young, she probably got pregnant out of wedlock, and that being a huge social taboo in those days, she probably had to get rid of the baby to save her own face. Something probably went terribly wrong during the procedure, affecting her ability to have future children. Or maybe something even more terrible, like getting raped. Either way, it was so devastating that she's been left with deep emotional scars.

    She also doesn't seem to have a very supportive family background based on her distant relationship with her father. I can see how that affected her self-esteem, making her vulnerable to the wrong men. Whatever her past was, at least she has someone like Andrew in her life, and she's learning that not all men are dogs.

    1. Wow, your guesses are really interesting, some of them correct but, of course I'm not saying which ones ;-). What I can say, however, is that the first images are meant to look like a miscarriage. She was very young then (17) and... OK, perhaps this is the time for me to admit that I can be VERY fastidious, so everything that's shown on those first pictures is meant to be there. Her face and hand tell us some things that are not explained through text ;-).

      Not only didn't her father be supportive of her, but he also made some choices for her (one in particular, as you'll see later on) not caring at all if they were good for her or not.

      Thanks for reading, and for your always insightful comments :-).

  5. I don't even want to picture what happened to Claire! Seems worse with every chapter but I do look forward to the big reveal! It's good though that she trusts Dr. Stuart and she has a friend in him or so it has seemed thus far. I hope she gets another piano! That seems to be the thing she enjoys the most!

    1. And it'll seem even worse in a couple of chapters, I'm afraid :-(. She does have a friend in Andrew, only she's not completely convinced of it yet. And who knows? Perhaps she may get another piano in the future ;-).

      Thank you for reading.

  6. Oh poor Claire. Her reaction to Andrew's tea order said so much, just in those few sentences. The poor girl was terrified. It was like she forgot they were at a coffeehouse, and that someone else had been the one to prepare the tea. I know that she must have felt it was her fault because she was the one to pour the tea. My heart goes out to her. Wow, the residual pain from her harsh past. I think this chapter was the most powerful so far.
    So now I am caught up and I love your story! =D

    1. I'm sooo glad you picked up on that, I was almost afraid it would pass unnoticed. Well, I do believe that it wouldn't have been so odd at the time for her to be pouring the tea, but that doesn't matter: it's the fact that she looks so terrified over such an insignificant thing that is important here ;-). It says so much, you are very perceptive.

      Wow, you have been fast! And thank you for your compliments :-D.

  7. What did that awful man she escaped do to her! Or was it her father? She can't have children! I am feeling so sad for her!

    She was expecting some angry outburst again for such a minor mistake. Her life must have been truly miserable with whatever man or men she was with before now. At least Andrew's showing her that not all men are abusive!

    1. Awful man, indeed! It was not her father, I can say that much -only he too was somehow guilty of what happened to Claire. It's very sad she can't have children, but even sadder is the reason WHY she can't have them, as you shall see :-(.

      Claire was preparing herself for the worst (whatever it is that she considers the "worst"), only Andrew took that incident for what it is -something of no consequence at all, and Claire was taken aback.

      Thanks for reading!

  8. I loved all the glimpses into Claire's past. And I love that you kept it all mysterious, so we still do not have all the pieces of the puzzle, just enough to make readers want more.
    There is so much sadness in her life!
    I'm glad she's learning to be able to trust Andrew, but it's also plain from her fears of how he might react t her mistake with th tea, that she has a long way to go yet in understanding norma human behavior. I can only imagine she must have been terribly abused at some point to be afraid of Andrew's response over something so meaningless.

    1. Thanks a lot :-), I actually like to imagine this story as a puzzle, so, yes, that's what I was going for.

      Exactly, she has yet to learn "normal" behaviour, unfortunately that says a lot about what her life has been like :-(.

      Thank you for reading.

  9. Whoa. Wait a second. She *can't* remarry? Oh my. That does say a lot. And "I won't" when it comes to children of her own? After the first scene from her past that's an incredibly ominous thing for her to have said. Wow.
    And bless her. Could the letters from Ethel also be why she chose to start afresh in Canada?

    1. Well, strictly speaking, she doesn't say she *can't*, but yeah, it says a lot... Yes, that was ominous as hell!

      And, yes again, Ethel's letters are the main reason why she's in Canada at the moment. Recovering them gave her a new hope (like a renewed appreciation for life), and that's exactly what she needed to "boost" her self-esteem.

      Wow, you're good. I loved your comment. Thank you for reading :-).

  10. hmmmm.... there are so many secrets! .... I don't think she was married... I bet she had a bad relationship, or had a very bad thing happen to her, probably by someone she trusted...

    1. Perhaps she was married, perhaps she was not. As for the other things... it's a bit of everything you said, and not quite. Can't (won't) say anything more ;-).

      Thanks for reading.

  11. It seems Claire's father was a miserable excuse for a parent and I don't blame her at all for not mourning him for as long as what would be deemed appropriate.

    What happened to her when she was young was awful, I wonder if she ever talked about it, shared her pain with anyone. if not, maybe she can now with Ethel. She can't keep it bottled up for ever, she needs to confront it and deal with it, and maybe she can start healing. I just want to hug her, and I'm sure the doctor wants to hug her too.

    1. Wow, it's been a while. Welcome back :-)!

      Her father certainly doesn't deserve to be much grieved over, but you know... back in those days you had to show... "respect" to your parents no matter what their actions were (at least that's my interpretation of it, anyway LOL), so on top of not feeling sad she also feels guilty :-(. That said, I don't blame her either.

      Well, she hasn't exactly shared those things with anyone, but of course Eliza knows just about everything. Of course that's not the same thing as talk about them just for the sake of venting, so to speak, but at least she's had... a supportive witness. No doubt she needs to confront it. I'm sure she'd like to thank you for wanting to hug her :-), I want to hug her too most of the time.

  12. It is so rough for the both of them right now, Andrew is fishing for information in the hopes of gaining Claire and those exact inquiries are making her relive the most horrible moments of her life. So she can't have children, I gather? :/ Poor girl has been through so much!
    The walls were closing in on her during the tea scene. Her fear is so strong that she expected him to lash out in the middle of a public place. :(
    Keep at her Andrew! Show her she is loved!! ;)

    1. True, she can't have children :-(. And poor Andrew, if he knew what he has just done... And I'm just beginning with him...

      She's accustomed to expect only the worst from men :'-(, so Andrew's (logical) reaction took her completely off guard.

      Yes, Andrew, don't give up! ;-)

  13. I hope at some point Andrew will be able to help Claire repair some of the emotional damage that's been done by whatever happened in her past. He certainly is smitten with her, but he'll have to tread lightly, and I wish him better luck than he's been having so far. ;) Back to reading now!

    1. I hope so too ;-). Poor Andrew, if he just knew how "erratic" his behaviour towards her really is... Of course, no one can blame him, but still...

      Good to have you back :-D.

  14. Poor Claire, I want to see her happy, and it is a shame she can't have children. I think Claire should let her hair down and give Dr. Stuart a chance. He really is a nice guy and could erase some of the pain of her past.

    1. It's a shame, yes. Poor Claire has suffered a lot in her life. Hopefully she will take your advice into consideration ;-).

      Thanks for reading.

  15. Andrew is so handsome. Im in love.

    1. Hehe, I take it you... like our good doctor, right? ;-) Hehe, you're not the only one <3.

      Thanks for reading.

  16. I'm rereading through your chapters again. I'm afraid I was remiss for too long and I was afraid I might have forgotten things I needed to know about the story.

    "There is not a chance for me to remarry. At least, not until..."---that comment made me wonder. Until what? Is her husband not truly dead? I recall that she's using her mother's maiden name, and was afraid to be found out that she was earning any money...is she afraid he will find her?

    1. Ah, no worries there. It's my "fault", really! I'm afraid my style of writing doesn't translate too well into blog, and it doesn't help matters that my updates have been so scarce lately. I just hope you'll bear with me 'till the end, and all those details I've been throwing here and there will come (hopefully) clear :-D.

      Thanks for (re)reading and commenting.

  17. I'm so engrossed in reading that I'm forgetting to comment. :D It seemed as if everything Andrew tried caused her some kind of pain or anxiety. The poor woman can't even have a conversation with a handsome man without reliving painful memories. I can't even imagine the kind of abuse she's endured to think that a man was going to lash out at her for putting sugar in his tea. . . :(

    1. Awww, that's such a nice compliment.

      Poor Andrew is unknowingly triggering all sorts of bad memories on Claire... :-(.

  18. I am glad to be back to your story, Marta. You are a very talented storyteller, and the lovely pictures do complement the words.

    We are slowly digging into Claire's past, and you are conducting it very well -- I am more and more curious to learn about what happened to her. I thought her father would be the main cause of her sufferings, but it seems like he just facilitated it, handing her to a disastrous marriage, perhaps?

    I like how you go back and forth in time -- it does resonate with me and my own style of storytelling :)

    Andrew is slowly gaining Claire's confidence. As a good doctor, he recognizes her symptoms whenever she shows them, and though he might not be doing it on purpose, he keeps triggering her memories of hurtful past experiences -- and when she expects the old storms to come down upon her, he shines his smile and affection instead. My opinion is Claire hasn't realized it yet, but Dr. Stuart is already in the process of healing her.

    It just hurts me so much that again she is made so helpless and just puts herself in the passive position of a woman who thinks she deserves to be punished and abused. Please, Claire, take good care of yourself. With love,

    Andante Zen.

  19. Well, yes, Claire's father's guilt was to be indifferent towards his daughter, which in itself is already a great sin >:-(.

    Oh, the coming-back-and-forth-in-time part... It's a real pain sometimes, but I think this "fragmented" way of telling this story was the one that made more sense, given Claire's own fragmented way of thinking.

    Hehe, good old Andrew is generally a good judge of character – it goes with his line of work, I assume(d) – but... will he remain so when love comes in the way...? ;-) Anyway, you're right, he's a great influence for Claire.

    Poor girl, she just hasn't learned to behave in any other way: psyhological abuses are the most difficult to overcome...

    Thank you so much for your words, and for pointing out those typos to me (the perfectionist in me really appreciates it).

  20. Wow. I don't want to say too much in case there are readers who haven't put the connections together but I'm so glad she got out! What kind of horrible people did she grow up with? I mean, seriously, not a single person helped her (besides Eliza, who given her station in life could do nothing)?


    1. Getting out of her life and England was the best thing Claire could have done. And you're right, there's little help Eliza could offer, except, well... her support and kindness...

      Thanks for reading, and for being so subtle ;-).