Chapter 16 - Grace Before
When the moment finally came for me to take back control over my life, I allowed all of the built-up anguish to explode. I had planned on confronting her, scaring her, but the prostitute wouldn’t have it. She lunged at me, threatening me! I don’t even remember pulling the knife from my coat. It all happened so fast. The recollection plays out with the same mist of red that descended upon me that evening.
I remember how my hand shivered as I clutched the knife. The prostitute laid face down motionless on the grass. Blood pooled around her neck, spilling on to the floor. Her gargles still echo in my mind, and I can still taste bile at the thought.
I didn’t know how much Caitlyn had seen or heard from the car until she approached me from behind, hissing my name.
I told her not to look, begged her, but she knew what I’d done. I asked her to return to the car, and at that moment Zoe kicked hard against my stomach. The trauma settled in. Only hours later, I’d wake from my sleep and go into labour.
Caitlyn kept her word. She never did tell anyone about the night that I decided to confront the whore James was shagging, yet again. We never discussed it even to each other. It was as if it never happened. The news reports fizzled out and people forgot. The woman was never even identified. I’d been sure to take all her identification with me. They lurk in the watery depths of the River Ourse, along with the knife I used to stab her. It was only by chance that some stalker committed a very similar crime to a woman named Jane Powel in Overton. Distancing my association even further.
When Zoe was born it was like I too was born again. The horror of the night had been replaced by the magnificent joy of my daughter. In my head, my real life started the day I became a mother.
All my attention was on Zoe, my Zoe. I couldn’t imagine my life without her in it. The thought was paralysing at times. I’d wake up in the night and run to her crib, just to check that she was still breathing. I’d agonise over her every move. James was a good father. He was incredibly hands-on and attentive.
As you would expect, something had changed between him and me. The sheer business of life distracted us from our problems for a while. Then karma caught up with me.
When I was diagnosed, the first time, my illness affected James. Overnight, he returned to his former self. Gentle, soft, and sweet. The affairs seemed to have ended, and I had bigger things to worry about. Ironically, the cancer brought a lot of goodness to our lives. We made time to be together as a family and make memories. As my condition improved and the cancer went into remission, I thought that we’d made it through the worst of it and come out stronger than ever. How naive I was.