‘Never,’ Elizabeth whispered.
‘It appears to me that you don’t seem to be too sure.’ She didn’t hide the sarcasm in her voice.
Elizabeth couldn’t look at the jury. Thomas demanded her to be strong and defend him. Yet, his drinking, and violence that went with it, shocked her. ‘I felt safe with Thomas.’ She finally found the right words, but they felt dishonest, and her ivory tower started to crumble.
‘I put it to you, Mr Thomas Whitman was violent with you, as he was with his wife. You both defend him, but he was a monster all the same and used his fists to make his point.’
‘Objection, this information is pure conjecture,’ Richard Blake said.
‘Sustained, you may ignore the question.’
The jury members looked to each other – silence spoke volumes.
‘Sorry your honour.’
Allowing a glance in Martha’s direction, Elizabeth wondered how her rival was so calm. Why wasn’t Martha screaming? Something that betrayed some emotion would be better than this. The room was shrinking. It brought Elizabeth closer to Martha than she wanted to be. Something inside folded like origami until she could no longer hide the facts, but still Thomas reared to the forefront of her mind. ‘He was my rock, my strength. Yes, he got angry, but all men and women get angry.’
‘Did he get angry with you?’
Elizabeth couldn’t believe how little it took for her to break her promise to Thomas, yet it was the truth she didn’t want to say.
‘Did he ever hit you?’ Barbara Craven said and reduced the gap between them.
‘He pushed me into a cabinet on Christmas day, but his whole life was falling apart,’ Elizabeth said.
‘Isn’t that just the excuse he would give to his wife?’
‘It wasn’t his fault,’ Martha and Elizabeth said together.
Unwarranted understanding in her rival’s eyes and the reality of her life began to take shape. She remembered the first time he pushed her, but also remembered his kindness. The gentle way his hands wiped away the blood. It had been an accident that day. But at Christmas, she had seen his true nature.
Her recollection of the day was all out of sequence. The way he held her after they made love. The shove. His scratched knuckles when he was on top of her. Getting drunk to match his mood.
Her blue outfit tightened against her waist. It stifled the truth. Elizabeth dared to look at Martha. It was the same shade of blue. When Thomas brought her this outfit, she looked older than her forty years. It was like she was slowly being turned into her rival. No, this was just her mind playing tricks. What did the colour matter anyway? They both loved Thomas, and perhaps this was the reason they both wore blue. But this particular shade meant something to Thomas, he never liked her in anything else.
‘No further questions Your Honour,’ Barbara Craven said and convened back to her seat. She didn’t need to even acknowledge the jury before she did so.
Their faded murmurs were enough to satisfy her.
Richard Blake went to question Elizabeth further, but one momentary look at his witness and he said nothing.
‘You are free to leave,’ the judge said kindly.
One last look in Martha’s direction, Elizabeth had finally woken up. A minute ago, she was so full of hate, but now her heart had seen the truth. She got her life back and Martha had sacrificed everything to do it.