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“The problem with strong-willed children is that no matter what you do you’re wrong.”

“What do you mean?”

Sarah measured her words carefully, as she was determined not to waste her therapy hour sobbing, again.

“Well if you punish them or tell them no, they tell the world they were abused. If you give them space thinking ‘oh, I’m making her independent’ then they tell everyone they were neglected.”

Her therapist remained silent, letting the ticking clock fill the void.

“You know my daughter wrote a story about her childhood, and it went viral.”

“I see.”

Sarah could tell by the other woman’s tone that she knew exactly what story she meant, and had probably read it before this appointment.

“She never calls me. Never emails. And God forbid I try to reach out to her. I haven’t been so pointedly ignored since junior high. Oh, and all that crap about her terrible childhood, she never said a word to me about any of it.”

For a fifty-five minute hour Sarah and her therapist went over the same ground again.

“Sarah, before our next appointment, I want you to think about this. How much longer are you going to beg your daughter to love you, and when are you going to love yourself?”

Sarah blasted the car’s air conditioner all the way home, relishing the stinging cold air on her face. She pulled into her driveway, and quickly walked into the house. Past the junk table in the foyer and through to the kitchen, she dropped her purse and keys on the way to the sink for a glass of water.

After a couple of gulps of tepid water, she burst into tears. She’d made it twenty-five feet further this week.



Karen Southall Watts teaches Humanities at Bellingham Technical College, and Business Soft Skills courses for Canadian College. Her flash fiction and poetry have been featured at Fairfield Scribes, Free Flash Fiction, The Drabble, 101Words, and soon at Sledgehammer Lit and Soren Lit. She is also the author of several business books and articles.

Reach her at @askkaren on Twitter

And visit  &

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash



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