He is sitting on the bed, watching me getting dressed. I wince as I pull my cut-offs over the bruises. I look over at him.
‘What do you think when you see the damage you do to my body?’
I don’t talk about the damage he does to my self-confidence, to my happiness, to my emotional well-being. Kiri doesn’t really do feelings and emotions. Much as he talks about his past, there seems to be no empathy with anyone. There is no emotional understanding, a complete inability to recognise anyone else’s feelings and needs.
‘I feel so sorry. I can’t believe it’s me doing this.’
I have heard it all so many times before. I finish getting dressed and walk out. What’s the point?
Lucy is coming over today, with a friend of hers. I don’t want her to see anything. I want Kiri to stay away, but I know that he would only get hurt if I asked. He wouldn’t understand, and he would probably get drunk and start a scene in front of them. I couldn’t bear it. So, for the next few days, I will just have to tread even more carefully, hold my breath and hope for the best.
‘Muuuummmm! Wow! Is this where you live now? It looks fantastic!’
She has just got out of the taxi and is looking around the garden with dreamy eyes. The coconut trees are swaying high in the sky, the banana trees wrestle in the breeze, the flowers are an explosion of colour. I can see it all through her eyes, and I remember the first time I arrived here. It feels like a lifetime ago.
‘Mum, you‘ve lost so much weight, is everything okay?’
She is eyeing me as a daughter, not as a doctor, but her expression is concerned. I have lost weight. I eat a little less in this heat. And I suppose since I started smoking like a trooper again, it has taken the edge off my appetite a bit, but I am absolutely fine. I assure her.
I show them to their room, and once they have thrown down their luggage, they are ready to hit the beach. I have taken some time off, all agreed with Lisette.
We head down the little road and emerge on the beach at the height of the day. I can see in her expression what I must have looked like when I first got here. It is good to see it all through her eyes again, as I have been taking it all for granted for too long. It’s all so beautiful.
We head for the restaurant, and I introduce them to everyone there. We spend the afternoon chit chatting. I want to hear everything about them and am not really interested in talking about me.
Thankfully, none of my bruises are visible.
We plan a few trips and excursions for the four days they are staying here. They have already booked a driver to see the rest of the island.
It is so lovely, yet so strange to have her here. She belongs to my other world. The world of maturity, normality and predictability. Not this one.
We make the most of the time they have here, and despite my constant worry, Kiri seems to behave himself. A few minor episodes were clearly not detected by Lucy and got defused just in time.
She is baffled when I give her my battered suitcase to bring back to the UK, though. I have too much stuff here, and these are all things I never use. If she suspects anything, it never shows. She has no reason to believe my life is a living hell and I live a precarious daily existence. There is no reason for my daughter to think that I have to be ready to flee for my life at the drop of a hat. I don’t want to have anything to give him a hold over me, anything I need to get back for. I think deep down I know I will be leaving soon.
Much as I hate seeing her go, I breathe a sigh of relief when the car pulls out of the guest house, and I lose sight of it in the traffic. She hasn’t seen anything untoward. Everything went well, and I am grateful. Now hell can break loose again.