The following is the first character introduction chapter from my new Wattpad novel, If You Stay. You can read the story, as it is shared via my wattpad account.

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Standing in the middle of her childhood bedroom, Maliyah Williams could only stare in silence in all that changed and all that hadn’t in the years of her absence. It seemed as if her mother had left things untouched in hopes that the little girl she’d lost to the world would return as innocent as she’d left. And yet, new objects had been added in hopes that the more worldly version of her daughter would appreciate the idea that she had still been a thought in the mind of the person she’d tortured most.

A deep chill and hints of vanilla hung in the air, allowing memories of time gone to dance through Maliyah’s mind as she began to pace back and forth, wondering if she’d made the right decision in returning home.

She’d fallen so far from her family’s graces, done so much wrong and left so many hearts broken in the path of her personal life destruction. Her mother’s forgiveness had come with too much ease. Her brother was far too welcoming, embraced her with such haste that it scared her.

And then there was the tiny being who’d been the biggest victim in it all. A gentle soul that hadn’t found fault in Maliyah even when she hadn’t been a thought to cross Maliyah’s mind when she should have mattered most.

Looking towards her bed, Maliyah caught sight of the gift she’d been given by that gentle soul. Something she’d spent her hard earned allowance on, something she’d been saving for months just to present the instant Maliyah walked through the door.
Grabbing the stuffed bear, she brought it to her chest and held to it tightly. It smelled of the gentle soul’s favorite perfume, a light mist of lilac and a tiny hint of the candy she’d accidently gotten stuck to it in her excitement.

She felt she didn’t deserve it, nor the love and forgiveness. But she had it, and more than anything else in her life Maliyah feared how she’d go about messing it up all over again.

Standing in the doorway of the small room, Carrie Williams watched as her daughter paced back and forth. Her face held a look of concern but she approached with caution, afraid of scaring Maliyah off once again.

“You don’t have to rush into anything, you know. Not worrying about me or whatever help you may think I need.”

“I owe yo-“

“Nothing, Liyah. You owe me absolutely nothing. If you feel working may be too trying right now, that’s fine too. You can take all the time you need, get settled and get as well as you can. My only concern is that you are home, and remain home and safe.” Carrie took a deep breath, approaching the next topic gently. “As for Elle.”

“I don’t know what to do, Mama. My child is afraid of me, what can I do?”

Carrie offered a reassuring smile. “She’s not afraid of you. She’s also a very intelligent child and knows a lot more than adults like to give her credit for. She figured out years ago you were an absent parent, knows that you had her incredibly young. Try as best as I could to sugar coat, for both your protection and hers, she wouldn’t have it. She knows of your faults. She knows why you’ve been away so long. She’s not angry, bitter, nor is that baby afraid of you. She wants a relationship with you, and only hopes you want one with her too. She understands it may take some time, and she and I both hope that you don’t spend everyday of our second chance beating yourself up.”

Tears overflowed, fear swimming in her dark brown eyes as Maliyah dropped her head in shame. “I’m so sorry, Mama.”

“One day at a time, Liyah. We’ll take it one day at a time.” Clearing her throat, warmth and love poured through the words Carrie spoke next. “Now, I know you haven’t had a good meal in a while. What would my baby girl like most?”

“Whatever you cook, Mama. I’ve missed it all.”

Carrie nodded, making her way out and down to the kitchen. Maliyah returned to the silence and solitude she’d imposed upon herself, wondering what step to take next. Wondering how she would make up for the time and years of her life lost.

2 thoughts on “She Has Returned (from If You Stay) by Cortney Joseph

  1. Beautiful so far! I can’t wait until we dive more into her backstory, why she left, what she’s doing to improve in her life, the blossoming relationship with her daughter. Cannot wait to read more! This was a great introductory chapter! Intros are SUPER hard, and you left just enough to keep us wondering.

    Love it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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