That one word changed everything.
I couldn't keep it together as tears ran down my face.
Both my parents had been killed.
I could hear the doctor speaking, but I didn't take in what he was saying. When you went against the people, my father had once called our family, there was no escape. You didn't get to walk away with your life.
My bags were in the hire car outside the hospital. The new passport & airline tickets were in my handbag, which I was clutching tightly. It was my only hope of being able to stay alive, of starting over and escaping the hell my life had become.
My heart broke for my mum and dad. I wouldn't ever be able to forgive myself for what they had been through. I knew that they would have suffered. My husband wasn't a man capable of mercy.
My parents had always done the best they could to protect me. If I stood any chance of getting away, I had to get out of the hospital as quickly as possible.
The doctor leaned down and offered me his hand.
"Your husband's on his way, Mrs Dyer. Why don't you sit down here?"
I got up without his help. My legs were wobbling so much it took all my effort to stagger out of the room.
He called after me, but I marched to the stairwell, keeping my head down. The reception was crowded, and as I crossed the floor, I saw a familiar black Bentley pull up.
I pulled the hood up on my coat, darting through a doorway.
"Can I help you?"
My head spun round, eyeing the older guy who had spoken to me. He was holding a mop and a wet floor sign, his bushy eyebrows bunched together.
My chest felt like it was being squeezed, and I pressed my back against the wall.
"I-I need t-to wait here." I stuttered, "Please..."
His eyes travelled over me, stopping at my throat. In my rush, I'd left my scarf in the car, and I knew exactly what he was staring at.
"Listen, if you want, I can call someone? You seem upset…"
His voice was more gentle, speaking to me as if I was a child.
"There is no one. I need to wait here for a minute, that's all." I pleaded, my eyes and cheeks feeling hot.
He didn't seem convinced, but thankfully he nodded.
"Is there a different way to leave?" I muttered, too anxious over the time to wait it out.
"There's a fire exit down here, but-"
"Thank you." I interrupted him before he could finish his sentence, hurrying down the corridor.
I took a deep calming breath before pushing it open, the bright daylight hitting me in my face. I'd come out at the side of the hospital, which meant I had further to walk to reach the rental car.
My legs were shaking as I walked, resisting the urge to run. This was it, my only chance of escaping with my life. Once the car was finally in my line of vision, I felt my hopes rise, I was almost there….
Then I saw him. Stood across the parking lot, talking angrily on his phone. My stomach lurched, and before he could turn around and see me, I ran.
I fumbled with the keys, my hand trembling so much I couldn't even press the button to unlock the car. The temptation to turn around and check if my husband had seen me was overwhelming, but I didn't want to risk it.
Once I was in the car, I didn't even bother with my seat belt, I drove away as fast as I could.
"Come on.." I moaned, stopping behind a queue of traffic at the car park exit.
My eyes travelled to my rear view mirror as I allowed myself one last glance at the man I'd loved.
My husband hadn't always been a monster, but there was no trace left of the boy I'd grown up with.
My best friend and soulmate.
He'd gone a long time ago.