OVER THE NEXT WEEK, THEY HAD LITTLE TO SAY TO EACH OTHER. She assumed he’d cancelled the holiday because it was never mentioned again. When he was around she stayed in her room, and when he wasn’t she lounged about the flat, not doing very much. Her predicament constantly played on her mind. What could she do about it? If Blake didn’t want her, all she had left was to confide in her parents. But if she did that, they’d say the same as Blake, and insist she terminate the pregnancy. What she needed was an unbiased opinion and only her doctor came to mind.
So a couple of days later, she sat nervously in front of him, rubbing her nose every so often, as he looked at his notes. There was a slight tremor in her voice as she told him what had happened.
He seemed strangely unmoved, as if this happened frequently, which surely it didn’t; and sitting back in his chair, sighing quietly before speaking he said, ‘Well, this is rather an unfortunate set of circumstances. I can understand why you’re in a dilemma. But I can’t make your mind up for you; you have to come to a decision yourself, or with your family’s help. Of course, if you have the child and your boyfriend’s not the father, it may cause problems between you and him. Then again he might take to the child. I’m sure you must have considered the options – abortion, adoption etc, but as I’ve said you should do what’s best for you and your child.’
‘I can’t decide what to do. I did want to have the child,’ she said touching her stomach gently. ‘But I may have to look after it on my own.’
‘Family and friends will rally around, I’m sure. Most do in a crisis. If you do need help, whatever you decide, we can provide it,’ the doctor assured her in a very impartial way, which irritated Donna, as she wanted someone to tell her what to do. But he couldn’t do that. This left her feeling let down and still in a quandary.
As she walked back to the flat, and for days afterwards, she went from one decision to another, constantly changing her mind. Finally, she knew what she had to do and as he’d promised, the doctor made the arrangements.
On the morning of the termination it all seemed to be done in a matter of fact way. The doctor asked if she was sure about having an abortion and she nodded tearfully. When she returned home, she rested, but she forgot the time. As soon as Blake came back from work, she jumped when he slammed the door, but hadn’t the energy to avoid him, and besides maybe they wouldn’t fight now.
He looked mildly surprised to see her there, and at once she felt flutters in her stomach. Before sitting down, without a word, he put his suit jacket on the arm of the settee and his briefcase on the floor beside him. Then he spoke.
‘Thanks,’ she replied, her heart pounding with expectation.
He came back into the living room five minutes later with two mugs of tea, which he left on the coffee table in front of them.
Donna picked up her mug, took a sip, and then put it down again.
‘Very nice.’ She glanced at his handsome face that looked as boyish and as appealing as ever. ‘You always did know how to make a great brew.’
‘Practice makes perfect.’ He sat back on the settee, yawning from another seemingly tiring day. ‘So how’s it going?’
‘All right. Getting by, I suppose. Yourself?’ Her bottom lip quivered.
’The same…’he began, but stopped in mid-sentence when Donna took his hand. He looked amazed as this had hardly happened at all since the attack.
‘Blake, I’ve got something to tell you.’ She squeezed his hand.
‘Funny you should say that, because I’ve got something to tell you as well.’ He didn’t return her gesture of affection.
‘I promise you, you’ll find my news is much more important than yours.’
‘Ok, fire away then.’
‘I… I had an abortion this morning like you wanted.’ She smiled uneasily, hoping everything would be all right now - and long as he didn’t ask to sleep with her, she’d be fine.
His large blue eyes widened with surprise. ‘Well, I’m sure you did the right thing.’
‘I’m devastated about it, that’s for sure, but I couldn’t bring that baby into the world, knowing it wouldn’t get the love it deserved.’ A tear of regret trickled down her cheek.
‘That’s true. I admire you for having the courage to do it.’
‘So are you happy now? It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. It’s bloody awful, I can tell you – something I never want to go through again.’
He gave an ironic snort, which puzzled Donna, then said, ‘Knowing how you are these days, I’d say that’s nigh on impossible anyway.’
‘And what’s that supposed to mean?’ She turned towards him.
‘You’re trying to say I’m frigid, aren’t you? Why, you ignorant bastard,’ she snarled, her face now beaded with perspiration.
Blake looked embarrassed; he blushed, shifting his neck in the collar of his shirt uncomfortably. ‘Well, yes I suppose I am, at the moment, although I’m sure it’s not permanent.’
‘You patronising pig,’ she screamed, hitting him across the cheek with a slap so loud next door might have heard it. ‘Don’t you dare talk to me like that again or I will definitely never let you touch me again.’
As he stroked his cheek, which must have stung painfully, he replied, ‘Perhaps I don’t want to touch you again, anyway.’
Donna’s jaw dropped open. How dare he say this after she’d just had an abortion specifically for him? Perhaps he was still angry at her for not letting him touch her. But what did he expect? A maniac had raped her, beat her up and left her for dead.
‘And what do you mean by that?’
‘What do you think I mean? You’re making me out to be the villain in this. I didn’t rape you – he did. I have the right to feelings and needs the same as anyone else. Have you any idea how I feel when you keep pushing me away, even if I so much as dare to try to hold your hand? And will having an abortion make any difference to that? I doubt it. You’ve got to stop taking your problems out on me – all right.’ He nodded at her, moving his eyebrows up.
Donna was shaking furiously, trying hard not to shed any more tears for him. She realised then any feelings he had for her had vanished; if they’d ever been there in the first place. She turned away from him and went back to the spare room.
Flopping down on the bed, she was devastated over Blake’s reaction to the abortion. She’d killed her own child for him – for God’s sake. The pain she felt oozed out of her. She could do nothing to stem the tide and hated herself for what she’d done. No one would ever want her again because she’d been raped and was now frigid. That’s what Blake thought anyway.
Sometime later she managed to pull herself together, and finally dried her tear-stained face with a wad of tissues. She sat up on the bed, looking into space.
When all of a sudden the front door banged shut, she got up, opened the bedroom door, and walked across to the living room window just in time to see him get into his car. He drove his red Ford Fiesta off at high speed. He wouldn’t be back for a while, she surmised. But where would he go? Out with friends to get drunk perhaps – or maybe even out on the pull? Unless he’d already found someone else and that’s what he hadn’t told her. She tried not to think about it because it would send her off into even more turmoil. Overwhelmed by his reaction, she couldn’t understand why he was doing this to her. Many times in the past he’d gone out of his way for her, but now he’d changed completely. All because the physical side of their relationship had gone.
But despite this, she wished he’d hurry up. She felt so alone without his presence in the flat, even if they were at loggerheads. With him there she’d feel safe, especially with her attacker still at large.
The longer he was away the more on edge she got. She panicked despite how he’d treated her. What if he didn’t come back? What would she do? True, she could have her pick of men; but he’d been the only one to treat her as an equal, and not a sex object to conquer. Until now. All right, so she’d changed of late, but he had too. And if she could overcome her fears, shouldn’t he at least meet her halfway?
By midnight, she convinced herself he wouldn’t be coming back. If he was spending the night with another woman, she couldn’t forgive that. Not ever.
Getting up from the settee, she made her way to the bathroom for a quick shower. She’d been told to take it easy for the rest of the day and although she should have been in bed hours ago, she was too wound up to sleep. But she couldn’t stay up forever.
She lay quietly on the bed in the spare bedroom wanting to shut the whole world out of her life, but sleep wasn’t going to come easily, with Blake still not home. Perhaps he’d got himself into trouble because of how upset he was – she even blamed herself for his behaviour.
It was deadly quiet in the flat. Lying there tossing and turning, sweat pouring out of her, she felt all alone, as if no one cared about her, except for what they could get out of her.
Only a little while later, she was jolted awake by Blake’s noisy entrance at the front door. Her heart beat faster with sheer relief; but also fear. He hadn’t left her after all. She heard him rummaging about, first in the living room by the sound of it, then in the kitchen. He was humming, perhaps in a much better mood than when he’d gone out. Thank God, so long as he was in a good mood for the right reasons. However, she didn’t intend venturing out of her room until the morning.
Then came the sound of the bathroom door locking. Followed by water splashing, as he gargled his throat, which she found vaguely amusing. But her relief soon changed when suddenly the door to the room burst open. The light from the other rooms filtered through, causing it to be in a sort of semi-darkness, as she opened her eyes.
‘Donna!’ he shouted at the top of his voice. The bellowing of his rich baritone voice reverberated round the room.
She started to shake, smelling the faint odour of stale beer on him - and saw the glazed look in his eyes. He was in fact still angry and very drunk.
He spoke through gritted teeth and said, ‘Donna, I want you out of that bed. And back where you belong.’ He switched on the light.
She narrowed her eyes until she grew accustomed to the light. Sitting up in bed, moving back, she feared what he might do to her in his present state. ‘Leave me alone Blake. You’re drunk; go and sleep it off.’
‘Leave you alone!’ he shouted at her. ‘I’ve left you alone for long enough. I won’t tell you again - get into our bed.’
She shook her head vigorously.
He bent over towards her, making her gasp with fright as he pulled back the covers of her bed. She was wearing only a flimsy nightdress to cover her modesty. Visions of what had happened on that awful night returned to her, her whole body vibrated with terror, wondering what he intended next.
He breathed heavily, almost hoarse in his rasping. ‘Have you got the faintest idea what you do to me? You, the most beautiful creature I’ve ever set my eyes on. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d get it together with you. But now just when I thought you were mine you tell me I’m not to touch you anymore. That’s fucking evil, wicked, that’s what it is.’
She said nothing. Shivered not from the cold, but through dread. He’d never been like this with her before.
He reached out, his hand clenching the top of her nightdress, and pulled at, then ripped it from her body, leaving her wearing only a pair of skimpy knickers. Gasping in shock, she covered herself with her arms.
‘I want you so badly,’ he growled, his eyes widening, giving him a manic expression that frightened her. ‘More than anything in the world. You’re tormenting me, you wicked bitch.’
‘No, no, no, please.’ She moved further up the bed, but knew there was no escape. ‘Blake; I’ve just had an abortion, for God’s sake. I can’t –’
‘You can and you will, you cow. I don’t believe that man raped you – it’s an excuse to ditch me for someone else. Well, I will take what is rightfully mine.’ He looked at her as if she was dirt.
‘You’re no better than the man who raped me – no, you’re worse. I loved you, and I thought you loved me!’ she shouted, her arms tightening around her body.
She whimpered, then began to cry - it was as if the whole male population were out to destroy her because she wouldn’t give herself to them.
Blake stopped suddenly. Froze in mid-flight, looked at her strangely, then his head dropped forward, and he collapsed in front of her in a heap on the bed.
She screamed and screamed until her throat was hoarse from it, hurriedly pushing him off. With the tension released, she was too petrified to do anything else. Saliva dribbled from her mouth onto her arms. She wondered if anyone had heard her.
Even though he lay there in a drunken stupor, dead to the world, she still hated being in the same room as him. If he woke up, there was no telling what he might do. She moved off the bed, pulled on her dressing gown, and with difficulty, grabbing hold of his arms, struggled to pull him out of her room and back into his own. There she left him on the floor, closing the door behind him.
She realised then, that there was no alternative but to leave as soon as possible. She got dressed; gathered all her clothing and belongings from around the flat to pack into a large suitcase, which she pulled down from the top of her wardrobe. Back in the confines of her room, she pushed a chest of draws against the door, placing the luggage on top, hoping if he woke in the night, it would stop him from getting in.
It was out of the question to leave the flat this early in the morning – no taxis or buses would be running. So she lay on her bed with the light on staring at the door, praying he wouldn’t try to force his way in.
If only there was someone she could phone, but who would believe Blake had almost tried to rape her? The police would treat it as a domestic issue and wouldn’t want to get involved. As for her parents, unless he did something unspeakable, she didn’t want them to know.
This was all too much to cope with. Blake had forced her to relive her nightmare all over again – and now she was certain she’d never trust him or any other man again.
She must have been lying there on the bed for hours it seemed, when she suddenly realised the new day was coming; beams of light filtered through her curtains. Then came the noise of activity from the other bedroom, of someone retching over and over again. Her heart leapt, fear returned. Blake getting rid of whatever he’d drunk the previous night. It made her feel sick and disgusted at his uncouth antics. To her now all men were pigs.
As the minutes ticked by, she listened intently to what was going on in their bedroom. It sounded as if he was trying to clean up something from the carpet. He must have made a right mess. But that was the least of her worries.
The chest of draws remained in front of the door and she moved the bed next to it to make doubly sure he couldn’t get in. She was determined to keep them there until he’d gone.
Fortunately, luck was on her side. He didn’t attempt to enter her room. Instead, he continued to rummage about for a long time, so much so she thought he’d end up being late for work.
After much stomping about, the front door of the flat slammed shut, as did the outside door to the building. From this, she deduced he’d actually gone. After a few minutes, she decided to try to move the chest of draws and bed away from the door. It was difficult to move them easily, but eventually she got the door open with just enough room to allow her to get by. She squeezed past, making her way into the living room, where looking through the window, she was just in time to see his car travelling down the road.
A strong smell of disinfectant and stale sick lingered in the air. It turned her stomach. She sighed to herself, thinking about the life she might have had to face with him. It seemed she’d had a lucky escape, but the alternative, the prospect of an uncertain future, filled her with despair.
Last night’s deplorable behaviour had made her realise he wasn’t the man she thought he was, and marrying him was out of the question. If she did she’d face a life of hell. Perhaps he had been drunk, and wouldn’t remember what he’d done. But that wasn’t the point. The point was, even in a drunken state, he had the intent. What if it happened again? No, now she’d ever feel safe with him again.
Sadly for her, she had no one to turn to. No friends who might take her in. The only option left was her mum and dad. Her last and only resort. From as far back as she could remember she’d never been happy living with them. True, they’d never physically beat her, but they’d made her life a misery in lots of other ways. How well she remembered them shouting and screaming at her whenever she refused to go on a film set, or to strut about on the catwalk. Things she could forgive but never forget - but right now she was in a tight spot and had no other choice.
When she was ready, she phoned for a taxi. The taxi driver beeped his horn as soon as he got there. She struggled out of the flat with her luggage onto the pavement, glad when he got out to help her.
As the taxi moved off, she didn’t even look back at what had been her first home of her own. All the memories remained, and although they made her feel sick, it was impossible to forget the happy times they’d shared. But the events of the past few weeks overshadowed this, and now there was no going back.
The taxi driver made for the address he’d been given, to the suburb of Dexford, where her parents lived. It would be difficult to live with them but there was no alternative. It wouldn’t be forever, only until she could get back on her feet again. But how long that would take, she didn’t know.