Nearly thirty years of marriage (the good, the bad and the everything in-between) were thrown out like they were rubbish. Pushed back inside, Martha tried to forget she had ever seen them. They screamed from their hiding place – cheat, cheat, cheat. You stand there and accept this affair. Are you not going to fight for your husband? For your marriage?
Martha slammed the door shut and jammed the key in the lock. It wound around until it hung out of its socket. Her diary screamed to be heard. Upstairs in seconds, she forced open her underwear drawer. Knickers were thrown to the side and strewn across the floor. A tiny robin, sitting on a scarf, she could never wear in public, caused more anger to rise to the surface. Trembling, she picked up her diary and pen and plunged down on the bed.
How could he do this to me after all I have put up with? God knows I’m difficult to deal with sometimes, but haven’t I been a dutiful wife? I’ve never refused him! Never complained about my life. How could he carry on with the affair when he told me it was over? He promised me, I had nothing to worry about. Oh, he expects me to be perfect. Blames me when other men used to leer at me. But where he is concerned – the rules don’t apply. He is just like those kids at school, A bully, and one day he will get his comeuppance. I will stand over him, and he will beg me for forgiveness. He doesn’t love me, he never has. Why should I forgive him this? I put up with his fists flying over every little thing he doesn’t agree with. I’ve lost Laura and Tabitha because he is too stubborn to listen to reason. One of these days, when he least expects it – I will kill him. Would Elizabeth mourn him? I certainly wouldn’t. I would dance on his grave every day. Shred our worthless marriage certificate and throw that ugly vase into the bin where it belongs.
The pen dropped, but Martha’s heart was still racing. This time the negative voices remained. Nothing but champagne for this woman. Nothing but fists for her.
Her diary hastily replaced, she covered it over and slammed the drawer shut. An old coat was grabbed from the wardrobe; make-up hastily applied; Martha was out of the house before she could change her mind. She didn’t know why she took her handbag, but it felt wrong to go without it.
Conscious of her surroundings, Martha lowered her gaze to the concrete. She ignored muffled greetings. Streetlights didn’t offer any shelter; traffic invaded her ears and neighbours watched from behind their net curtains.
Martha jumped out of the way of a bus, to avoid getting knocked over.
‘Lady look where you are going, I could have killed you!’ The driver shouted out of the window.
The streets, blurred faces, and jumbled feet were the only thing Martha could concentrate on. A primal need, to seek out the truth, merged with sirens, but she didn’t turn her head. Forwards and onwards her goal in sight, nothing could distract her now.
If she left it any longer then she would miss them both.
Once she had reached the entrance of the restaurant, Martha couldn’t move her feet in any direction.
‘You going in or not?’
Martha stepped inside, walked to the back, and sat down in a seat just near the kitchen. The menu picked up, she pretended to read. Now wasn’t the time to have a panic attack, but every time the bell jingled, Martha could feel her pulse rate rise again.
The waiter tapped his pen on the pad he was holding. Martha was like a deer in headlights. Even if it were possible for her legs to move of their own accord, there wasn’t anywhere to go. Hands steadied under the table she forced herself to look up.
‘What would you like to order?’ The waiter asked.
Martha remembered the small amount of change in her purse. ‘I will have a cup of tea please.’
She ignored his narrowed glare and watched him return to the kitchen.
Each time the door opened Martha looked up. Customers came and went. She scanned the room for any new arrivals. There were a couple of women, around her age, but none of them matched Martha’s idea of what Elizabeth looked like.