A Mothers Story

Ginny stands on the step of the boarded up house, her brown hair, which matches the colour of the rickety bricks of the houses in the small village, is blowing wildly in the harsh wind. She smiles bravely at me, trying to hide the hurt. Kitty, my youngest, is giggling and talking in her own baby language. Her cheeks are red and sore from the constant, biter wind. And Luke, my only boy, is facing the rising sun, hope and a sense of expectation glistens in his four year old eyes.

How did I get here? Why must my children’s stomachs go constantly empty? Why must we trust strangers to give us food and fate with our lives?

Ginny, my oldest at ten, stands tall and proud. She has her fathers dark colouring, with brown hair and green eyes. She tries not to show her painful hunger, but as a mother I know. Kitty, who I am holding, as she is only six months, is the only one of us with a full stomach, as farmers gladly give me fresh milk as we pass their farms, when they see my beautiful baby girl. Luke, fair and calm like me, stands with hope and pride. Although only four, only once did he cry on that fateful night…

I remember the day my parents told me they had met a young man who would be perfect as a husband for me. They said we would be blissfully happy and that they would be very disappointed in me if I didn’t treat him perfectly and consider him as my possible future husband. I was worried, my parents had that strange look about them when they said this. An eerie sense of expectation, that was probably too high. I remember my heart pounding and my hands trembling slightly as I walked along the corridor to were I was to meet him for the first time.

My parents sat at either end of the long table were we ate when friends were invited over to dine. The best set of china was laid and Mothers best centre piece was on the table. I sat across from him, my possible husband to be. His parents sat next to us, both inspecting me and the way we both spoke to one another, my parents inspected him and glared at me whenever an odd silence fell over the room, like a gloomy mist.

After that first dinner, we met often and soon conversation flowed more easily between us, though I was not quite sure that I wanted to marry him! My parents would argue with me for long hours, that I should be trying to win his affections more, but I felt anxious and I didn’t want to marry him.

But then one evening, he asked me to walk with him through the topiary gardens at the back of his parents house. Somehow, I think my subconscious new something was going to happen. At the front of the house, he cleared his throat, knelt on one knee and suddenly, we were engaged. What could I do? My parents would have been so annoyed if I had said no, so I said yes.

One day, as my wedding day drew near, I complained to my mother that I should be finding my own love, not marrying Mark Billington.

“I don’t know why you complain, he’s good looking isn’t he?” I sighed, it was true, Mark was very handsome. Dark brown hair and a tanned skin, he had bewitching green eyes and a kind smile. But something was hidden behind those strange eyes…

My wedding day came, six months later. I had been allowed to pick my dress, with a little guidance from my mother, also I had picked the bridesmaid dresses, though I barely new any of the distant cousins who were my bridesmaids. I had seen most of the six once or twice a year. The church was packed mainly with people I didn’t recognise. I wore a long white dress, embroidered on top. I also wore a rose tiara with a long, delicate veil. Of cause my mother had taken full control of the proceedings, being a controlling type of mother who’s mother had done the same for her wedding. She had been eternally grateful, she told me, as I one day would. As I had been told repeatedly through out the day, in a very threatening voice that told me if I wasn’t I would be in a great deal of trouble.

My mother wore a grey suit with heavy fur trim, her stern expression matched her constant bad mood and her need to control all family events and members. She had grey hair and was tall and stick thin, she was the most un motherly woman I ever met. Unlike the mothers talked about in books or the mothers I met when I went to my friends houses for tea, when I was a child. She ran around the church, checking decorations and that all of the children that had been allowed to come to the event were behaving, with fingers on lips, sitting looking beautiful, which, as my mother saw it, was all children were good for, an extra decoration to make the church looking even more perfect.

My father wore a smart suit and though I didn’t get on particularly well with my father, I could see he was glowing with pride as he led me down the isle. He smiled at me, a twinkle in his eye. I suppose I have let him down by running, but I don’t think he would have wished me to stay had he really known and understood.

Though I saw the pride in my fathers eyes, I still felt as though he was leading me to the gallows. My heart raced and somehow my subconscious knew the future wasn’t so bright…

Ginny arrived two years into our marriage. Life was good and over those two years I had slowly slipped into a sense of security. Mark even let me work at a paper shop down the road, for an hour a week.

Then I found out that I was pregnant.

Mark was brilliant at first. His green eyes sparkled like stars when I told him and I thought he was going to burst with excitement. He was in his element at the prospect of being a daddy! He had things ordered, all white and pine.

“Only the best for our baby!” He would laugh. I felt excited and ready to become a mother.

I gave up my hour of work. “When our baby comes,” said Mark one day, “That hour a week shall be our time to do the things you can’t do! Just me and my son!”

“What if it’s a girl?” I asked, starting to worry.

“It won’t be, it’ll be a boy! He almost shouted, a threatening smile covering his face. I jumped back in shock. I could feel trouble brewing.

Somehow, I knew that my baby was going to be a girl. I knew Mark would be angry and that he would probably find a way to blame me and make it out to my fault. So I prayed every night for a baby boy, or a miscarriage. I felt awful praying for such a thing, but I didn’t want my baby to be seen as second best by it’s father. I still feel terribly guilty today when I think back to those nightly prayers.

Alas, my prayers didn’t pay of. Those guilty nights of prayer passed and I still gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl. Mark had gone red when he had been told, but when he had seen her, he had smiled. Though perhaps he didn’t feel as strongly as love towards Ginny, he gave her all she could want, other than a truly loving and caring father.

He wouldn’t hold her at first. It took me three months to get him used to our beautiful baby girl, eventually he started to feed her and sometimes he even played games with her when he was in a good mood. Yet, I still felt a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach, that something was not quite right. He had terrible moods sometimes and he complained a lot about money. He said I indulged Ginny too much and spent so much money on her just to annoy him.

The first time it happened, Ginny was four and Mark wanted more children, a son that he could truly be proud of. I still prayer that my beautiful, bright Ginny didn’t hear those comments, even if she was just four. He would yell, “I want a son!” as he came in drunk from a night at the pub. It used to petrify me that if I got pregnant that the baby would be a girl, surely he would get worse, or divorce me. Leaving me and my two girls destitute!

One night, at about ten, Ginny still wasn’t in bed and was playing when Mark came stumbling through the door drunkenly. I could hear the stomp of his old brown boots. His face was red with a mixture of too much drink and bubbling anger. “Why is she here?” He half yelled, half spluttered. His stinking breath circled the room, making Ginny wrinkle her nose.

“She! Is your daughter! Come on, to bed Ginny. Just ignore your Daddy.” I said, angrily and more bravely than I felt.

She clambered off to bed. When I came back down the stairs, I could tell something was wrong. He was glaring at me with wild, angry eyes.

“Ignore Daddy!” He bellowed. “I will not be ignored! Especially not in my own house and by my own child!”

I felt my eyes widen. He had obviously had far too much to drink.

He was suddenly standing over me. His hot breath prickling at my face as he stood, like a lion, over me. I hadn’t answered fast enough. I hadn’t apologised. He glared at me, my heart was racing as suddenly he razed his fat purple club like fist. Slam!

I slumped sobbing to the floor. He huffed and stumbled of to bed. I could feel a big bruise covering my right eye.

Every so often Mark would return from the pub, in a foul mood. Though petrified of those lonely nights, I couldn’t leave him.

He had such a foul temper and it petrified me that every time he left the house with his friends for a drink, it was like I was taking a gamble. For a week after those nights, nobody would see me. Sometimes Mark would shower me with apologies and flowers, but eventually he didn’t even bother with those. Nobody knew, except my mother, who I had turned to for support, but she had thought that it wasn’t so bad. He had money and a good job, I had no right to complain.

Two years after that first, terrifying punch, my beautiful Luke was born. Mark was over the moon, he was happy again and his moods appeared less and less. I only worried that my sweet, perfect baby Luke would turn out just like his monstrous father. I had terrible nightmares of my gorgeous Luke turning from his dinner in a terrible mood, his little pink fists flying everywhere, his father’s eyes appearing in replacement of his own sparkling baby blue’s. His soft blonde strands turned to thick brown snake like clumps.

Mark was happy, until two years later, he decided I was to have another son. I fell pregnant and he kept saying how proud he was going to be of his two strong boys. I wept every night of my pregnancy, knowing in my heart that my bump held a precious baby girl as beautiful as a rose and as brilliant as any boy I would have had.

Of cause the odd punches became regular after a month, once my angelic Kitty was born. One horrible night, the children were in bed and I had the kettle boiling ready for when Mark returned home, just as he liked it. It was best to have everything perfect to help prevent any unnecessary arguments over the pettiest thing he could find.

Mark stomped in late, he slammed the door behind him. I gulped, so it was going to be a one of those nights! “Cup of tea?” I said, in what I hoped was a none guilty, not too chirpy, not hiding something kind of voice. He grabbed the kettle and threw it against the wall next to me. I jumped away from where it bounced, with a loud clatter, against the wall. Splatters of scolding water went everywhere and I just narrowly missed them. I was shaking, completely petrified.

I looked at him with petrified eyes. He hadn’t even needed a reason to get angry this time and this meant that things were going to get even worse. He glared back at me, his ugly fist raised, still red from the last punch he had thrown.

“Don’t hurt Mummy!” Yelled my beautiful boy. I thank the Lord every day that it wasn’t Ginny who stood there yelling in fear for her Mummy, as I am sure this would have made him even angrier.

He froze for a second, then his heavy fist hit the cold wall, just missing my head. I jumped at the loud clump. I ran past Mark, grabbing Luke, trying to comfort him, praying he wouldn’t remember this event for the rest of his life. I pretended to fall asleep next to his bed, so Mark wouldn’t start another fight. I had made a decision in the split second that I had seen Luke’s, scared and shocked little face. The next day would be the start of a new day. The day!

I grabbed money, clothes, toys, food, everything and anything and threw it into the battered old carpet bag that stayed in the bottom of the wardrobe. I grabbed jewellery and other things that could be sold. Then I held Kitty on my hip, took Luke’s little hand and told Ginny to keep close and to keep up.

I walked out of that door, that day, away from the blackness. The perfect marriage that had be planned out so brilliantly for me. This perfect life that had been given to me for myself and my children. I walked away from the money and good job, the only things that mattered. Holding my head up high, I made my choice for my children and made the change.

We got a train to Edinburgh, from London, which meant most of my cash was gone. We then walked along he cobbled streets and then, eventually, we came to little country lanes. Finally we arrived at a little village, it looked like it had been taken right out of a book. It was well enough mixed into the countryside that Mark would never find us.

And so we sit on the top step of the boarded up house, which holds it own sad story. We have the little milk a farmer gave us as we wandered the lane that lead us to the village. I don’t know what I’ll do now. I guess I’ll sell my jewellery and hope for a kind stranger to come, accept this mothers story and help her and her three beautiful and very brave children.

The End

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