‘No, it wasn’t. I wish you would understand that Thomas was the monster, not you.’
‘I just didn’t love him enough.’
Martha didn’t want to argue anymore and turned her head to face the wall. It was easier to say nothing. Laura wouldn’t change her mind about her father, any more than she could hers.
‘Why do you keep defending him Mum?’ Laura’s hand slipped out, as she let out a small cry – like a wounded animal about to die.
‘I’m too tired to talk,’ Martha whispered and pulled the covers over until the spectres of yesterday were quietened.
Laura’s light footsteps rushed out of the room; Martha suppressed the urge to call her back. She tried to close her eyes, but the light in the room was too bright to sleep.
Why did the policewoman look so sympathetic? She deserved none of it. How could such a young woman understand the grown-up world of marriage. Life wasn’t perfect – it wasn’t meant to be perfect.
Martin directed Laura to the relatives’ room. At that point she couldn’t put one foot in front of the other. One more glance at the policewoman, who had not moved from her spot, and Laura was inside the relative’s room.
Reality had set in.
They treated her mum like she planned to kill her father. All Laura saw was a scarred woman, still beholden to the man she promised to obey all those years ago. Her mum had been proud when she told Laura this fact when she was only five years old.
A small plastic cup full of sweet tea was slowly going cold – Laura had long since given up drinking it. Instead she paced up and down the small room.
Looking older than her fifty years, Theresa’s grey flecks of hair seemed to have grown in the last few hours. Laura still couldn’t look at her.
Martin tried his best to distil the pressure she was feeling, but his words just seemed to make things worse, not better. She thought it would change with her father out of their lives, but even in death he had won. What would it take to put the pieces of their puzzle back, if he weren’t here to answer to his crimes?
‘It won’t help your mum if you don’t look after yourself, drink your tea.’ Theresa got to her feet. ‘Come on love you look all done in.’
Laura glanced at Theresa and surveyed the pliable seats, with the stuffing poking out of the cushion. The tiny room had no pictures on the wall. The paint was peeling away. Her whole life had unravelled, and Theresa wanted her to drink tea. What good would tea do when her mum’s life was over?