Chapter 51: Dee
Of course, Dee knew none of Isla, Milly and Simon’s history as she researched the numbers and locations of local refuges. She had no idea that Isla believed that the only way to keep her daughter safe was to remain at home with her abusive husband and had no idea that Isla had come so close to leaving.
Dee had reinvented history, and in her mind, Isla’s story was one of constantly wanting to escape, of planning how she and Milly would make their way out into the world without Simon, but of finding themselves unable, trapped by lack of means, fear and intimidation.
Perhaps Dee’s version was not so very far from the truth, but when Isla eventually awoke, the history she recounted to Dee surprised her. Dee found it hard to understand how a woman who loved her child so whole-heartedly could willingly remain in the house of a brutal monster. But then she supposed Isla might find it hard to understand how anyone could live in a home they once loved and ignore every piece of mail that arrived for several months until somehow things escalated to the point where their house was to be repossessed.
Maybe, thought Dee, it is not our place to judge the lives of others until we have tried living them.
“Why didn’t you leave?” she asked Isla when she awoke. She knew it was an unfair question. She knew that Isla must feel responsible for the fact that her daughter’s life was teetering on a knife edge and that this could have been avoided, but in truth Dee felt angry with Isla. Inwardly she seethed in the knowledge that Isla had played chance with Milly’s life in this way.
It is one thing to put one’s own life at risk, but to risk the lives of those we love, and especially those too young, too innocent, or without sufficient knowledge or means to make better choices of their own was just plain wrong so far as Dee concerned. Whichever way you looked at it, Isla had done the wrong thing, thought Dee, until Isla explained what had happened all those years ago and the threat that Simon had made. The promise that if Isla left that not only would she be unsafe, but that she would be taking the life of her daughter in her hands too and putting her precious, perfect daughter at risk of the wrath of this madman.
Dee began to understand then. She understood that Isla could not leave; but she could not see how Isla managed to get from morning to night without worrying herself to death about the safety of both herself and her child, and so Isla began to explain the extraordinary lengths a mother is willing to go to in order to keep her child safe.
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Thank you for feeding back each day. I’m building in your edits and suggestions to the version held on my local machine so the initial raw version will remain here. When I’ve got questions, I’m going to ask them each day – don’t feel obliged to answer them, but if you’re happy to they’ll help me as I try to craft the story. If you have questions or observations I’d be keen to hear them too.