The pain sent me straight to my knees. I rolled to my side. My eyes watered.
“You want me to stop?” K. asked.
I shook my head and got back up. “It’s okay,” I said. K. and I were 14. The stud earring she’d pushed through my earlobe had gone through only one layer of skin. The little gold star jutted out and blood seeped around the post.
K. held the towel on the other side of the earlobe and pushed the stud further in. I shrieked. I heard the post break through the cartilage. K. jumped back. “Maybe we should stop.”
I shook my head unable to speak. I wiped away the tears, picked up an ice cube and touched it to my ear. Pain zipped down my neck.
She popped the stud through the back layer of skin. “You sure you want to do the other one?” she asked.
We did the other one.
All these years since then I’ve remembered how much it hurt and the sound of pierced skin. To this day I’ve no idea why I insisted on continuing.
The other day K. told me that she remembered the feeling of pushing that earring into my earlobe as if it were yesterday instead of 25 years ago. The sensation disturbed her still. How she felt had never occurred to me.
Now that I’ve sent my novel out into the world, I’ve no idea how readers will feel about it–though I hope not like they’re pushing a metal post through flesh. We tend to focus on how we feel about sending it out, but what effect will our words have on others? But we can’t predict and will be surprised by what people say.
I think I’d rather get any reaction than having the words quickly forgotten. Some novels I forget almost before I put them back on the shelf.
How do you want a reader to feel while reading your work? What do you want a reader to remember?