That mound of chapter critiques reminds me of the time I helped a friend clean her house. On two little tables, her children created their art. The paper from their projects stacked up. At the time, I wondered how they could work since the stacks were high. I picked up the first few pieces of paper, admiring their talents, and then I realized that my friend had never thrown out any of their artwork. As I picked up pages, inch by inch, their talents deteriorated back to their toddler selves lacking in hand/eye coordination. It was like watching a movie reeled backwards. I also knew, like the art work she never bothered to throw out, that she was oblivious to her children at times.
My friend started having seizures in her thirties due to the “stress of having young children,” the reason I helped her clean her house. She had told me that in her youth that she suffered from hyperactivity. During college, she had stopped taking the medication because she didn’t seem hyperactive anymore. After the seizures started, an aunt revealed the truth. The seizures started at age two after her father slammed her head on the concrete basement floor resulting in brain damage. Her family was so embarrassed that they told her the medication she took controlled her "hyperactivity."
My friend moved to another state, but I think of her and remind myself to be thankful for my ability to work, learn and develop my skills. Her father’s abuse also reminds me that my protagonist’s abusive childhood reflects the reality of those around me. It may be fiction, but it’s real.