The only cash she was given was for food and essentials. Thomas didn’t let her have any extra, which would tempt her to go elsewhere. Even so, Martha went without, managed to save a few pounds, so she could buy some presents.
However meagre they may be, at least they were something.
She managed to buy Theresa a tiny heart on a silver chain. A rag doll for Tabitha and for Laura, she gave the most precious gift of all. Her father’s St. Christopher. Not leaving Thomas out, she planned to buy him a gold ring on sale in the jewellery store.
Martha had many times tried to ask Thomas about shopping in town. On the day she was to meet Laura, she tried again.
‘I haven’t got you a present,’ she explained nervously over breakfast.
‘You haven’t got enough money,’ Thomas argued.
‘I’ve managed to save a little,’ Martha quietly insisted. ‘It won’t be much, but I want to give you a gift to show how much I love you.’
A close eye was kept on Thomas. He was torn, Martha could tell.
‘Okay, but I’ll give you a lift.’
Trying not to show how anxious she was, Martha tried to think of a reason why Thomas couldn’t take her into town. He would be suspicious if she left it too long to answer him. ‘Thank you that would save me the bus fare.’ Martha went to retrieve her large, brown handbag. ‘I can make my own way back though; you need to get to work.’
‘I can wait.’
Martha found it difficult to breathe. ‘It won’t be a surprise then.’
‘Okay, but don’t stay long,’ Thomas warned.
Martha nodded, and embraced her handbag. Convinced Thomas didn’t believe her story as it was, she nearly changed her mind several times.
As he dropped her off at the jewellery store, Martha walked inside. She looked at the gold rings on display. Even after she had made her purchase she couldn’t be sure he had gone.
She stared into the distance and pushed against the oncoming wind. Her thick woollen coat wound around her shoulders like a python around its prey. Theresa’s car was parked at the end of the road. She cautiously moved forward hoping Thomas wasn’t following her.
Hoping Thomas wouldn’t find out.
When Theresa opened the car door she quickly sat inside.
‘You okay?’ Theresa asked gently.
Martha nodded, ‘Are you sure I’m doing the right thing?’