The pain surprised her, she had thought it would hurt less this time. Looking down, a tear fell from her cheek and disappeared into the pool of warm blood. She needed to wash up, but her strength was gone, seeping out of her in that warm, sticky flow.
He’d gone now: gone to the pub. He’d be ‘drowning his sorrow’, as the saying goes, except it wasn’t his sorrow. It was hers. She looked at the implements of his torture, knowing she’d have to clean up before he came back. God knew she could do without feeling the weight of his fist on top of everything else.
‘How far gone?’ he’d asked.
She shrugged. ‘Three, maybe four months.’
‘You sure it’s mine?’
She answered only with her eyes.
‘Aye! Sure it is. Who else would have you?’
Her hand went to her face, touching her lop-sided jaw, her crooked nose. Yes, he’d made sure no-one else would have her.
‘Here!’ he tossed the bottle of whiskey onto the bed. ‘Don’t say I’m not good to you.’ And he laughed soundlessly; uneven, yellowed teeth parted in a sneer, as he ripped the sweater she’d been knitting from the long metal pins.
They lay discarded on the floor, disgusting in their recent employ, staining the carpet with the viscera of it. She’d need to get some cold water on that carpet soon or she’d never get it clean. But she couldn’t move.
One hour, two; she didn’t know, but there was little light left in the square of the window she could see from where she lay, her head propped on two pillows, her hand still grasping the whiskey bottle. There wasn’t enough whiskey in the whole of Ireland to drown the pain or the sorrow.
He didn’t wait to see the results of his labour, didn’t like the sight of It. But he’d be home soon for his dinner and she had work to do before he staggered in the door, expecting it on the table.
Her resolve hardened as she slid her aching body to the floor. She would give him his meal. She would lay it out for him. But she would not watch him eat it. She would be gone. But she’d have to work fast to make it happen. Pulling together every last ounce of strength, every shred of determination, she raised herself to her knees to reach the phone by the bed.
When the taxi came, she left without looking back. This time, he would not find her. This time she would be safe. Her ferry was booked, to be paid for in cash when she arrived at the dock. As long as she could stay alive, she could make a life.
Taking the stash of money she’d been skimming from the housekeeping, her passport and a few clothes, she walked down the path as best she could, leaving the mess for him to clean up and the foetus on his dinner plate.