What do you consider to be a beautiful disaster and why?
I’d never met a more unfortunate soul than Daria Smith. If her life were a novel, critics would call it unrealistic. Not even a fictional character could endure so many tragedies, so much suffering, in a single short lifetime. But Daria did. She survived and she lived and she pressed on in spite of everything thrown at her.
She was born on the side of a country road when her mother’s car broke down en route to the hospital. An ambulance arrived shortly after, but her mother was dying. Mom and baby were rushed to the hospital. Daria survived. Her mother didn’t.
Daria had 4 older siblings. Her mother hadn’t had complications with any of their births, but Daria had been difficult. A mysterious tumor had developed early on in the pregnancy. The doctors had urged for surgery, but the day before the scheduled removal operation, the images showed there was no more tumor. It was gone without even a trace.
Because they’d already had 4 kids to feed, Daria’s father worked several jobs to make ends meet. After his wife died, he fell into despair. He couldn’t care for four children and a newborn alone. He tried, though. He asked his family for help. Daria’s aunts and uncles stayed with them while he worked himself into an early grave, following his wife.
The children were split between their aunts and uncles. Daria grew up with her mother’s lecherous brother and his alcoholic wife. She’d loved the idea of having a baby to raise, right up until she realized how much work was involved. She decided Daria was her husband’s problem, since she was his sister’s kid.
He abused her for four years. When his wife realized what he was doing, she took it out on Daria before leaving them both. It was another year before she was removed from his custody and taken into the foster system. The rest of the family had reasons, excuses, for why they couldn’t take her on themselves.
The truth was they were ashamed. Ashamed that they had left her alone for so long with that man, but also for their guilt at blaming her for her mother’s death. They could never love her as she deserved to be loved, as unfortunate as she already was, and so they surrendered her to the government.
To lessen the burden on the family, Daria was brought to a new state to start her new life. It was in her first foster home that they discovered the tumor. This one would not just vanish like the one in the womb with her had before her birth. Daria was hospitalized. The government paid for most of her treatment, but her foster family could no longer support her.
She bounced around the system. In and out of homes and in and out of hospitals well into her teens. The cancer never came back, but the abuse still happened in some of the homes, and she fell severely ill with pneumonia, twice.
We met in a GED class. She wanted to get out of the system and get to work. She was determined. She believed she had a purpose. That she was born for a reason, and that it wasn’t to bring misfortune to others. She pushed through all her struggles because she wanted to see the day she was born for. I wanted to see it too.
We rented a tiny studio together. We worked odd jobs to pay our bills. She always smiled. Even when we were broke and unemployed and nearing eviction, she smiled. We would find something, she would say. We’ll make it work. How she could believe that, I didn’t know.
And yet something would come up. And we’d make it. And it’d be ok for a while. But Daria was still Daria, and just when something was within her reach, her legs would be knocked out from under her. An illness, an injury, a mugging, a misunderstanding at work, and we’d be back at square one.
The thieves were the worst. They wouldn’t even have to mug her; they’d just tell her a sob story and she’d gladly give them the shirt off her back. No matter how many times I told her it was a con, she would smile and say it was ok. Everyone needs a little help sometimes.
Daria had seen the darkest parts of our world. She had every right to be bitter and angry, to be filled with hate at all the monsters masquerading in human skin. But she chose to be kind. She chose to be the light she never had. Out of the disaster of her life, she chose beauty.
And it was that beauty that saved my life. She pushed me out of the way of that runaway car. She had no fear, no reservations. It was like she knew it was coming. I held her in my arms and she smiled. “This was the day I was born for,” she told me. “Don’t waste it.”
If Daria was born to save my life, then I was born to tell her story. Be the light. Find the beauty in your disasters.
Notes: This has been stewing in my brain all week, bouncing around and reshaping itself over and over. Every time I’d sit down to write it though, the words wouldn’t come. This still isn’t really the story I envisioned in my head, but it is time to move on from this prompt. The week is already over. I had the idea of a disaster person being beautiful in some unconventional way, because let’s be honest people are disastrous and beautiful all the time, but honestly most disasters have beauty in them. It’s primarily in the surreal, which is why so often we cannot look away. But I digress.
I hope you’ve had a great week! I hope it’s been more successful on the prompt side than mine. I’ll have the last prompt later today. How is it 1am on Saturday already? I should go to bed. Maybe I’ll go put on some Australian Open tennis to fall asleep to. Have a great weekend!
PS-Like these prompts? Like the short stories I write based on these prompts? Want to show your support? Give the blog a follow! Leave a comment! Buy me a coffee! I put a lot of time and effort into these posts and your support means the world to me! Ok, now go out there and write!