‘It was crystal, bulky, and ugly – a wedding present from Thomas’s mother.’
‘Can you tell me what happened next?’
‘I can’t remember, but there was blood on the carpet, and the vase was . . .’ Martha tried to lift the fog which always surrounded that night.
‘I bring you to another diary entry – 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.
Martha felt small against the chair, aware she had meant every word when they were written. ‘I meant the words, and I hated Thomas, but I don’t remember killing him.’
‘Do you remember telephoning your friend Theresa?’
She couldn’t remember contacting Theresa in any way, or the ambulance ride to the hospital. There were snippets, but nothing concrete to build any memories on. Martha swayed a little in her seat and felt like the crumpled cup on the table.
‘Can’t you see that my client needs a break?’ Her solicitor spoke with distinction.
Martha bolstered her shoulders, but her words spluttered out like a hail of bullets. ‘I’m fine, I just want to get on with it.’
‘We will give you a minute to talk with your client,’ Detective Miller said and turned off the tape machine. ‘Time stopped at 15:20.’
In silence, the detectives left the room and Martha focussed on the back wall again. Thomas, motionless against the peeling paintwork, resumed his stance. Down the side of his temple, a river of crimson blood stopped short at his shirt.
‘I will have to advise you that the police are no doubt going to charge you with murder and malice aforethought.’
‘That I planned to kill him in advance you mean,’ Martha said, her silence finally broken.
‘Yes, if you plead guilty, then there will be no trial and your sentence could be a minimum of fourteen years in prison. However, I don’t believe you should plead guilty. You have no memory of the act itself and were pushed to your limits. Your husband was clearly violent towards you.’
You murdered me Martha, in cold blood, the world deserves to know of your deception. This is your fault, and you know it. Thomas’s eyes burnt into Martha’s soul.
‘If you plead not guilty, I am certain I can plead loss of control. Your sentence will be much lighter – anywhere between two and ten years depending on the judge in charge of your case.’
Barely listening to her solicitor, Martha looked to Thomas for answers. Guilty and her prison sentence could begin, but nobody would know of her treachery. Not guilty? Her sin would be there for all to see.
‘If I plead not guilty, there will be a trial and I can go on the stand?’
‘Yes, but only if you want to.’
‘I’m pleading not guilty to murder.’
Martha wound her feet around the chair to stop them tapping.
‘You have made the right decision Martha. We will have our day in court.’
‘Yes, we will,’ Martha said, and scratched the back of her neck until her skin was raw.