Theresa tried to lessen the distance between them. ‘Listen to Martin love.’
‘Why can’t you get angry?’ She twirled around, and stabbed Martin in the chest. ‘You too Martin. You didn’t live through the carnage that was my childhood.’ Laura’s whole body felt like it was on fire. ‘For years I kept that contact going and watched as Mum shrunk before my eyes. When Tabitha was born, I made sure that she bonded with my child. For what? Can you tell me? Well?’
Laura towered over Theresa and slapped the wall behind her. The vein in her neck throbbed. This time she chose to ignore it.
Theresa surged forward and Laura backed away.
‘You think I’m calm, but it is only because I have to be. What use will we be to your Mum then? She is in so much trouble right now. We all know that!’ Theresa shouted.
‘Theresa is right. Your mum is going to need help if she is to avoid jail,’ Martin said.
‘We were aware of what was happening, did nothing to help her,’ Laura said. ‘How many years did we stand by and do nothing when he pounded her into submission? How many bruises and breaks did we witness and do nothing?’
Theresa’s face paled. ‘If I thought it would have made any difference. I would have dragged your mum away. Believe me when I say, I tried so many times to get your mum to see sense. I watched as that monster stripped away any sanity your mum could have had. You’re right Laura; it’s my fault Martha is in this position now. All I had to do was phone the police. Contact social services. Yet, I sat by and offered nothing but empty words and cups of tea, when I should have acted.’
Theresa’s body shuddered; Laura was shocked into stillness.
It was the first time she had seen a weakness in her. ‘I’m so sorry I let my anger get the better of me.’ Laura stared at her knuckles. ‘I’m just like him.’
‘You’re angry with the world and you should be. I should have done more to convince your mum that Thomas was never going to change, but she kept defending him and I kept accepting her excuses for him.’ Theresa’s tears washed over her face. ‘I allowed Thomas to continue with his madness because I was too afraid to lose her friendship.’
‘We both did, but we did it for the best of reasons, I suppose,’ Laura said, all her anger washed away. ‘But you can’t blame yourself just like I can’t blame myself.’
‘She could go to prison for murder because I wasn’t brave enough to say anything.’
Theresa looked so vulnerable.
Laura’s arms enveloped Theresa, as she turned to Martin for answers. ‘How much trouble is she in?’
‘In the eyes of the law she has killed someone, could be charged with murder.’
‘Let’s cross that bridge when we have a little more information. For the moment, your mum is safe. We all need a clear head to think about what is going to happen next. Worrying isn’t going to change the situation.’
‘She could spend the rest of her life in prison.’
‘The first thing we need to do is contact a solicitor and find out what her rights are,’ Martin said.
‘I’ll pay towards the cost. We have to defend Martha whether she likes it or not,’ Theresa said.
‘She won’t have any choice.’ Laura was never more certain of anything in her life.
‘Right now, we all need to get some sleep,’ Martin said.
‘I want to stay with Mum.’
‘Your mum needs her rest and so do you,’ Theresa said, with as much authority as she could muster. ‘I’ll stay at the hospital. I’ve got no one at home relying on me.’
‘What am I going to tell Tabitha?’
‘I don’t think we need to say anything to Tabitha for now,’ Martin said.
In agreement with Martin, Laura grabbed her coat. Thomas would never again hit her mum. She would never again have to hide the shame and bruises. Soon, only the hidden scars would remain, but they would always be stubborn and took much longer to fade.
‘Call me straight away if anything changes.’
‘Course I will.’
Theresa took hold of Laura’s hands and absorbed the pain.
‘She’ll be okay, won’t she?’ Laura whispered.
‘She’s stronger than you think,’ Theresa said.
Laura gave Theresa one last hug and walked into the hallway with Martin.
Arms folded against her chest the policewoman remained outside the room.
‘Who are you looking at?’ Laura pulled away from Martin and stood toe to toe with the young woman. ‘You think my mum is a criminal, but you have no idea what that monster did to her.’
‘She’s just doing her job Laura.’
Martin didn’t flinch as he coaxed Laura away.
‘I don’t see why Mum has to be put on trial for this,’ Laura said.
Soon the world was going to find out about their private life and even though Laura wasn’t sure she was ready for the glare, something had to be said. A throng of reporters milled around the entrance when they arrived. At the time, Laura couldn’t quite believe how fast the news travelled on the wind, but maybe that was a good thing.
It wasn’t a secret anymore.