‘It is good to see our regulars back in the church today.’ The Reverend Charles Crowthorne had never changed his sermon in years. ‘Our church is always a sanctuary for sinners, and we welcome our newcomers into our fold.’
It had been two weeks since they last attended a sermon. Bruises needed to heal before they could enter the house of God. She kept her promise because Thomas kept his. He hadn’t touched a drop of alcohol in over a week. Every morning, Martha would check the bottle. It always remained half empty. Now when they went to a restaurant, they would share a jug of water and a proper conversation.
In the last week alone Thomas had admitted to more than his fair share of problems.
Guilt about not attending church impeded his progress. It was the same when Amelia died. Thomas turned to Charles then too. They would spend hours at dinner, talking of the fires of hell.
At first, Martha was glad when her mother-in-law’s influence left. Yet her ghost remained at the dinner table. Thomas would drink a whole bottle of wine with dinner. Then it was a drink just before he went to bed, but soon another bottle was empty.
It was about that time Thomas withdrew from fatherhood like a gold watch picked from a rich man’s pocket. Martha tried to persuade him to go to the doctors. Depression wasn’t a sin in God’s eyes. Tablets would help give him some sleep. If not for her then for Laura. But he wouldn’t listen. He steered closer to the bottle instead.
Laura remembered nothing from those days. As each year passed, their relationship pulled apart at the seams. Strands of silk frayed at the edges until they were held on by a single thread.
Maybe that could change now.
Without drink spoiling their discussions, she managed to talk about Tabitha without Thomas losing his temper. He wanted to take things slowly. Their relationship needed to be stronger before any reconciliation.