Martha searched her memories. It was true, in that split moment she wanted Thomas to die, but that ended when the diary was replaced in its hiding place.
The answer was too painful to say out loud. ‘No comment.’
‘And on another occasion when you found out about your husband’s infidelity 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. Mrs Whitman on this occasion did you want your husband to die?’
‘At the time I meant every word, he betrayed our marriage vows. I was angry with him but writing in my diary calmed me down,’ Martha said, her voice no longer her own.
‘Mrs Whitman, after you wrote that in your diary you went to confront your husband at The Raven. Is that correct?’
‘I had to find out if the affair was over. He sat there with her, and they were so happy. I wanted to kill them both.’
Martha clasped her hand over her mouth, not knowing where the monster inside her began and Martha ended.
‘So, you wanted to kill your husband?’
‘Yes, but when Thomas explained the reason why he was there I calmed down. He loved me and I failed him each time. He put up with so much.’
‘Did you often get angry with your husband?’ The detective’s gaze lingered on the scar on Martha’s face.
Martha lowered her head and brushed some hair to disguise the injury.
‘Mrs Whitman, Martha please think about what you are saying,’ Sarah Lamington said.
Martha shook her head and carried on. ‘Thomas said I was highly strung and that I needed to calm down many times.’
‘There are other entries in your diary Mrs Whitman, of incidents where you write of your husband’s violence towards you. Maybe she should feel some of the pain I endure. Was your husband often violent towards you?’ Detective Evans asked.
‘I don’t have to answer that,’ Martha said.
‘Mrs Whitman, it will help us get a bigger picture of your home life. It is obvious from hospital reports that you have old injuries. Also, there are reports of more recent injuries, including the hospital stay after Mr Whitman died,’ he said and shuffled the chair closer to the table.’
‘Thomas was a good man, and he was under so much pressure at work. I didn’t help his stress.’
‘Did he hit you Mrs Whitman?’ Detective Miller asked.
‘Sometimes, but it wasn’t his fault. Don’t all marriages hit rough patches?’ Martha didn’t reveal that her rough patch lasted for nearly thirty years. She had the right to remain silent and these parts of her life had to be kept secret.
‘How often did your husband hit you?’
‘I don’t want to answer that question,’ Martha said, staring at the back wall, as if Thomas were going to jump out of the shadows.
‘Shall we return to the night in question? What happened once Mr Whitman entered the front room?’ Detective Evans asked.
‘He was furious with me.’
She blinked away the tears.
‘At that point, were you afraid he would hurt you?’
‘It wasn’t his fault. I provoked him.’
She brought her hand to the side of her face and could still feel the sting of the blow. The lights were burning through her veins. All she could think about was Thomas lying dead on the ice-cold, coroners table.
He couldn’t even have a decent burial because Laura refused to have any part in funeral arrangements.
‘We will continue with the events leading up to Mr Whitman’s death. What happened when your husband confronted you with your diary? ’Detective Miller asked.
‘I reached out for the vase,’ Martha said.
‘Did you walk over to the vase or was it in reach?’
‘It was within my reach, on the mantlepiece,’ Martha said.
‘Can you describe the vase?’ Detective Miller asked