Chapter 52: Isla
Following Simon’s threats and after much agonising, Isla felt that she and baby Milly would be safer if they stayed rather than trying to escape, and so Isla turned her mind to working out how to make the best of a bad situation. She turned over and over in her mind ideas about how to keep both herself and her baby as safe as possible whist living with a man who was, at best, abusive, and at worst, possibly murderous.
Isla realised that she needed to be both vigilant and organised. Having lived with the man for many years, she understood the rhythm of his days. She knew that he woke up horny in the mornings. She knew that he was most abusive in the time between his arrival home from work and the point at which he was too drunk to feel anything. She knew that there were certain things that sparked his anger like not having enough whisky when he needed it, like not having a fresh hot meal served to him when he was ready for it, like having his anger responded to with physical or verbal fear or dissent.
And she knew that each and every one of the things that she had learnt about Simon over the years was something that could be used to keep her safe now. In order to keep her daughter safe, she was going to have to be giving of herself and to forfeit some of her morals, values and rights to safety and freedom. But this she did all this willingly in order to keep Milly just a little safer.
Isla worked hard to get Milly into a routine where she slept in a little later in the morning so that she could be sexually available for Simon when he awoke. It made her feel physically sick to feel him inside her, but with each thrust she thought of her daughter sleeping safely, soundly, unknowingly in the next room and she found the will to continue. She thought this would get easier with time, with practice – that perhaps she could learn to go to a different place in her head and remove herself from the situation, but she never could.
She found herself unable to play along beyond physically being there. She did not respond to his advances, she did not moan or hold herself in alluring ways, she simply lay there and allowed him to continue. Simon seemed entirely oblivious to the one sidedness of these morning interactions and continued regardless. For this, Isla was grateful and each morning as he stalked off for his morning shower, relatively calm and collected, she told herself that she had done the right thing, that she had kept her daughter safe for a few more hours. She would then assemble his breakfast and pour him coffee and kiss him on the cheek as he left for work. This simple act of domesticity made her physically recoil also. This parting kiss causing her to burn with shame more even than allowing herself to be taken advantage of sexually each morning. But this was the role she must play and following the kiss came hours of safety whilst Simon was at work.
This was the golden time when she and Milly could continue as they wished. Where they could live their lives like a normal mother and daughter and without fear of being spat at or beaten. But it came at a cost. At 6pm every day, Simon would arrive home angry, violent and so full of venom that he physically shook. True to his word he never ever laid a finger on his daughter and would coo and cluck over her on the better days before turning and beating his wife senseless.
After some months, Isla realised that a simple solution to these evening beatings was simply not to be available at the times when Simon needed to vent his anger this way. So she took to preparing a meal for him and leaving it in the slow oven to keep warm and forcing him to fend for himself whilst she and Milly took themselves far away.
Each day like clockwork Isla and Milly commuted two stops on the train in order to escape Simon’s fists and his venomous tongue. This did not make him happy but Isla learnt that if she stayed away long enough then he would settle into his drinking regardless of whether he had relieved his anger through beating her and that by the time she and Milly arrived home later in the evening, he would have passed out from his liquor consumption and she and her daughter could creep into bed unnoticed until the next morning when she would walk, naked, to his side and so the charade would begin all over again.
[View all chapters shared so far here]
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.