Her mum glanced at Buddy and back to Laura. ‘Thomas needed me, and I let him down.’
‘Bollocks, he let you down and you don’t deserve this guilty verdict!’
‘I might not remember the exact details, but I killed him.’
‘Because he was going to kill you.’
‘It’s not that simple.’
‘It’s always been that simple. You may not see it that way now, but you need to. Real men don’t hit their wives and beat them into such a submission that you can’t think for yourself anymore.’
‘Your Father – it wasn’t that bad.’
‘I heard him Mum, his tormenting words, your stifled screams. You would then walk into my bedroom the next morning, as if nothing had happened. You put my wet sheets and nightdress in the wash, as though it was normal.’
‘He was my husband; I couldn’t just walk away.’
‘Yes you could, there were places to go, but no, you let him manipulate you like some dark puppet on a bloodied string,’ Laura said.
The vein in her neck throbbed, but this time she crashed through the warning sign. Recognition in their shared trait fired the final bullet. Laura’s rage increased as her mum jumped back. The officer stepped between them. Laura squeezed stuffing out of Buddy’s stomach. Arms were thrown in the air, and Buddy fell to the floor. At first Laura ignored it, before she picked it up and held her old teddy bear close.
‘Where were you Mum when I needed you? I lost my baby, nearly lost my own life, but you still stayed with him. I know Theresa called you. I waited for you in that hospital. I thought you would see Thomas for who he was, but the only person I could rely on was Martin. I should have given up on you then, but I made excuses for you, just like you made excuses for that odious man, who called himself my father.’
‘Please, Laura don’t be angry with me, I wanted to be there but.’
‘You couldn’t because you loved Thomas more!’
‘That’s enough, you need to go,’ the prison officer said.
There was nothing more to be said, and she needed to leave this stale air behind. She took one step through the doorway, as her mum called her back.
‘Laura, please you know I don’t like it when we argue.’
She rushed to the bars and slammed her hands on the metal. Her mum cowered in the corner. The officer moved towards Laura, but the vein in her neck had exploded. Whatever was said next wouldn’t be undone.
‘All the time and money I spent on your defence, and you think I’m like him. That’s it Mum, I’ve had it. I won’t bother asking you about a retrial – you don’t want one. Wallow in your prison cell for all I care.’
‘Laura, I know I’ve let you down, but I’m your mum and I love you,’ her mum said, and reached through the bars.
‘I don’t have a Mum; she’s just died!’
Laura blinked, twisted towards the door, and slammed it shut.