Ten Questions for a Fictional Character: Martha Of A Question of Conscience


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***SPOILER ALERT!!!*** This post contains information about my story A Question of Conscience. If you haven’t read this story, click here before reading on.


Martha sits on the couch beside me, her face half turned away as she taps her foot. “My brother isn’t the monster you made him out to be.”

I smile, taking out my pen and notepad. “I only told your story, but if I made a mistake, please, help me make it right. What do you want people to know about Henderson?”

“He’s a good boy,” she says, wringing her hands. “He always has been. He’s sensitive and compassionate. He just gets tangled up in his head.”

“What do you mean?”

“This is all Katy’s fault, really.” She glances at me her gaze flickering to my writing hand. “If she’d have stayed in her marriage bed, none of this would be happening.”

“If she’s such a terrible person, why were you hiding her from your brother?”

“When they argue he gets sad, and when he’s sad he drinks. When he drinks, he gets angry.” Her eyes roll toward the ceiling, water gathering just above her lashes. After a moment, she inhales and looks me in the eye. “Katy isn’t perfect, but no woman deserves to be beaten. Especially by a man who won’t remember it long enough to apologize. And not when she’s carrying my niece or nephew.”

“You said your brother isn’t a monster, but you might not be dissuading my readers of that point of view by saying you were hiding his pregnant wife from him to keep her from being beaten—”

“She is no saint! She broke his heart, and if the roles were reversed people would be cheering her for breaking his nose, but they aren’t reversed. He’s bigger. He’s stronger. And if he doesn’t learn to forgive her that anger will kill one of them, or maybe both.” Covering her face, she fights her tears. “I just want my family to be whole, and healthy.”

Getting up, she excuses herself and steps into a bathroom just inside the front door. When she returns, her eyes are dry and her nose is red.

“Why do you think Henderson is having such a hard time forgiving her?”

“Katy is the only girl he’s ever loved. They met when they were fifteen, married five years later, and she’s been all he’s ever talked about from the day her dog almost ate him when he was on his skateboard. I think he thought she painted the stars into the sky at night until the evening he found her in bed with my husband. My husband,” she says with a tearful smile, “was his best friend and the closest thing to a brother he had.”

“Were is your husband now?

She looks at her hands and rolls the silver band on her wedding finger. “Gone. He couldn’t live with what he did. This whole mistake has killed enough people, I think.”

“How did their affair start?”

“I don’t know. I never asked her, and my husband never had the chance to tell me.”

“Have you forgiven him for what he did?”

She huffs. “It’s none of your business. We’re here to talk about my brother, not me. Any more questions?”

“Why did she choose to hide here?”

“She told him she was going somewhere safe and thought this was the last place he’d think to look for her.”

“Why did he come to your house looking for her?”

She rolls her shoulders. “I’ve asked myself that a hundred times, and I still don’t know the answer. Sometimes, I guess, people just do things no one else can make sense of, but I’m glad he did. If he hadn’t, or if he’d found her, they’d both have ended up wrapped around a street light somewhere.”

“Final question: Why, when you put him in that cab, did you tell the driver to take him to your church?”

A measure of the sorrow in her eyes lightens, and she takes a breath as if a weight has been lifted. Tilting her chin to the ceiling, she nods her head. “Because, for as much as I don’t know in this life, I know evil is overcome with good.”
Thank you all so much for reading! I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed this character interview. Please check back next Monday for another story. And, as always, thank you for spending a little time in my imagination.

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