Normally I would not review a Christmas story in the middle of January. However, “The Christmas Promise: A Short Story” by Mary Marvella is so compelling I think it applies to any time of year.
Writing about domestic abuse is not an easy thing. If you have experienced it, it is a painful telling. If you have not experienced it, it can be difficult to relate to. Whatever Ms. Marvella’s personal story, her story of a woman’s abuse is powerful.
Beginning with the gripping details of Beth’s beating by her husband, Ms. Marvella tears away the curtain that hides domestic violence from public view. While her son sings in the kitchen Beth wakens from a terrifying nightmare where she relives her near death attack.
Even as her son David comes to grips with the revelation that his father almost killed his mother, her daughter Susan admits her own limited awareness of what had been happening in their home for years.
As the family navigates counseling and anticipates the coming Christmas holiday Beth begins to find the strength to move forward. Recognizing they have all been damaged by husband Jim’s violence, Beth prepares for the long road ahead.
Meanwhile David and Susan take the reins to make new holiday memories and traditions. United in their desires for a better future and filled with the hope of the holiday the family bonds in a new way.
I would love it if Ms. Marvella followed this family forward in time, perhaps creating a full length novel with flashbacks and a bright if difficult future. But as a stand-alone short story, it is inspiring and honest.