As she struggled across the living room carpet, rough fibres felt like needles against her stockinged feet. The front door was ajar, and she peered across the winter mist. Nobody was there, but a black cat on their rubbish bin outside. It had got dark. The wind whipped around the lit lampposts. Thomas’s Honda was still outside, where he left it the previous evening, his keys discarded on their welcome mat.
Martha closed the door, went to pick them up, but couldn’t bend. They would have to wait until later. One faltering step at a time, she struggled up the stairs and into the bedroom. Thomas wasn’t there. She had a good idea where he had gone to. Elizabeth. It had to be her – there was no way he could explain his injuries to Charles.
Christmas dinner, what she had of it, boiled inside her stomach. Not only did she have to put up with his temper, but she couldn’t even spend some time with Laura and Tabitha. Their dinner wouldn’t have been as grand, but at least there would have been presents under the tree, and Christmas crackers pulled at the table. A room full of funny hats, and shared jokes was where she wanted to be, not here recovering from his alcoholic stupor. Why couldn’t he just give her one Christmas where she could have a peaceful end to the day? Goodwill to all men, that was rubbish and Thomas knew it!
Her drawer pulled open; Martha was surprised it hadn’t broken into pieces. Her diary, with only a couple of pages left, was hurled at the bed. Its pen tumbled on to the duvet, and her words wouldn’t stop.
Why do I stay with a man who uses his fists to control me? He wouldn’t stop, not even when I begged him too. Did his hate continue when I passed out? Probably, it’s how he gets his kicks. Push me down Thomas, and I’ll take it, but Laura, Tabitha. They’re off limits you bastard. I will give up drinking for you Martha! I love you Martha! Then he pounds me into the ground with his fists. It’s about time he realised the truth. I should go outside now. Knock on every door and show them exactly the man Thomas is. A bully with fists that are used for talking. That would spoil a bloody Christmas dinner wouldn’t it? I might just do that and tell them about his mistress too. While I’m at it, I could go to Charles, he can’t say I’ve done this to myself. Even Charles would take one look at his bloodied knuckles and see the truth for once. He is just like Thomas, and never thinks of anyone but himself. No, he’s gone to Elizabeth. Maybe she should feel some of the pain I endure, then Thomas would be home right now. He thinks I don’t know what he’s up to. Who he is with? He chose to be with Elizabeth today and picked a fight to do it. His affair has never been over. I am stupid, stupid, stupid. Stupid to think he can change. I should have listened to James, and not married Thomas. I couldn’t see his control then, but it was there. It’s there in spades now. I hate this marriage. I hate myself, but most of all, I hate you Thomas.