I am counting the days. Every full 24 hours is an achievement. It has been nearly four weeks since I landed back home and got picked up by Cindy.
She took one look at me and drove me straight to the hospital. I had concussion, and my leg, apart from the deep cut, had a severe contusion and infection. I got treated, packed up with medicines, kept in for a day, then sent home to rest
Overall, I have been lucky. I made it back alive. Only, Cindy did not quite see it this way.
It should never have happened.
I should have seen it.
I should have taken you away.
Why didn’t you tell me?!
She was shocked and mortified for not having been there for me, so she took it upon herself to help me heal.
I’m still living at her house and being pampered, fed, kept busy. I owe her a lot, but I need to do this on my own, so I’m moving back to my own home next month.
Initially, the shock and hurt were all I could think of. I was wrapped up in how deeply he had damaged me and all I could see was his dark, cruel eyes, his mouth contorted in a devilish expression. All I could hear was the noise of his blows on my body. Then all the grief came out at once. I cried for the person he never was, for the dreams we shared that were only mine. I cried for me. I felt abandoned, cheated, deceived. The physical pain would remind me that it did happen, that the monster in him did exist and would be ever present. But my heart fought hard against my mind to erase the bad times and show me glimpses of the man I wanted him to be.
I could see in Technicolor detail the path we used to walk on, our beach, our home. All the minutiae were clear and amazingly painful. Every millimetre of his body was etched into my head. All his little quirkiness – the tilt of his lips, the little raised eyebrow, the way he brushed his teeth, the way he would close his eyes when combing his hair, his voice resounding in my ears. I would have given anything for all this to be mine again, but I knew that the enormity of what he really is would come back too and I could not risk my life anymore.
The ghosts of good memories, regardless of how short-lived, would fight for the front row in the theatre of my mind.
I fought a daily battle to stop myself from contacting him.
Now I curl up on the sofa, reading a book, only I can’t go past the same line. My mind constantly wanders back there. Always revisiting the familiar places. Imagining the sounds, the smells, the colours. Where is he? What is he doing? Is he thinking about me? Is he missing me? I catch myself in these thoughts and try to push them out of my head, but the desire to contact him is pulling me apart. I need to face the grief and loss, I can’t just ignore how I feel. The pain tears at my heart every time I think of him.
‘You need a plan, a project.’
I smile through the tears when I hear Cindy’s voice from the kitchen. I know she is right.
‘It’ll get better, you know.’
She sits next to me on the sofa and hands me a cup of tea. I nod and a tear rolls silently down my cheek.
The dinner is laid out on the table, and the kitchen is full of the caterers’ paraphernalia. Polly, Eddie and little Blake are coming for Sunday lunch. Greg has just gone to pick them up from the coach station.
I’m glad of the distraction caused by the little boy. I don’t want the attention to be on me. I don’t want all the questions or the pity. I’m happy to play on the carpet with the boisterous toddler. By silent agreement, nobody has mentioned Kiri. I’m grateful, even if I see that Eddie would like to say something. Polly elbows him, and he looks away.
Polly looks healthy half-way through her second pregnancy, and Eddie is as attentive as ever. They are so caring and thorough in their love for each other and for the young addition to their family. It melts my heart.
Life looks so normal here, it seems impossible that I really went through all those horrors. But my hand instinctively rises to my head. I touch the side of it lightly, and the lump is still there. I’m happy about it; it serves me as a reminder of what happened. I will never allow that again. Never again!