The weeks passed, and Martha made sure that she behaved as a loyal wife should. Nothing was too much trouble. She would never refuse Thomas’s requests. His tea was always ready the moment he came in.
The house was always in order.
At their next neighbourhood watch meeting, with her tongue firmly bitten, Martha was polite to Mrs Carmichael. Even when she talked to Thomas about seeing Laura. How she had let herself go – Martha ignored her negativity. The right things were said. They discussed who was going to collect the charity bags. Spoke of the Sunday sermon and the next jumble sale.
There was no sign of Fred, but sometimes he wasn’t informed of their next meeting until it was too late. So she had to put up with Mrs Stoddart going on about her prize winning flowers. When the evening was over, Thomas congratulated her on keeping everything on track.
She waited until everything was calm before she allowed herself a walk in the park to savour the winter sunshine. She often settled on a wooden park bench. Read one of her romance novels. It was the only place where relationships were uncomplicated. At least there you were guaranteed a happy ending.
It was here that she could watch her family from afar. Laura and Tabitha often fed the pigeons. It gave her great comfort to know that they were okay. Sometimes she would want to go and meet them. Say hello, yet her courage failed on every occasion.
Martha found loneliness the hardest to bear – it caused the days to become endless, filled with mundane tasks, waiting for Thomas to come home. On numerous occasions, she had come close to answering Laura’s repeated texts and calls but changed her mind at the last minute.