She remembers her wedding day well,everybody told her how beautiful she had looked and how lucky she was to be marrying such a fine specimen of a man. She was so happy back then.They had moved into a bungalow on a quiet street, John ,her husband was well respected by his friends and peers. They had gone out together socially in the first year, and although he drank a little too much at times she could handle his mood swings. That was until the first child arrived, she had found it hard to cope and got depressed. John had started going to the pub alone, staying out longer, he didn’t seem to understand . Things got tense between them. He started to get angry, and then he hit her , for the first time, he apologised of course, they made love , he went to work and all looked good from the outside.
But all was not well inside that neatly clad bungalow . The drinking got worse and with that tempers flared, he had started to miss days at work.she was not seen out that often and Sarah their daughter now three seemed the neighbours thought quiet and shy. She did not mix or play with the other children. John had always kept a watchful eye any time that she ventured outside to front gate.
It was difficult for her to muffle her hurtful screams as he attacked her ,fists flailing. He was clever . He had learned very quickly where to injure her tiny timid frame. The marks on the outside masked the hurt that lay within that broken body of hers. She did her best to protect Sarah from the trauma that was now her life. Sunglasses were the norm even on cloudy days on the odd occasion that she ventured out . She had become introverted and seemed distant . Her neighbours were getting on with their own lives, busy rearing families. Life went on around her . Nobody seemed to take any notice, didn’t care . She was too embarrassed to ask for help.
She got very good at putting on make up and played the loving wife to perfection on the odd occasion that he would allow her out in his company. She had come to know the consequences that would follow if she had slipped up or put a foot out of place. He on the other hand seemed jovial and mingled well when in the company of others. The drinks cabinet in the house was always well stocked. She waited scared and frightened every night as he made his way staggeringly up the hallway to their bedroom. She prayed every night that Sarah would sleep through the curses and the screams , she would do anything , endure any punishment to protect her child from the monster that she called Daddy. He did not like her going to the doctor, and had promised her many many times that he would stop, that he was sorry and that he would get help.
Sarah now five was at an age when she could understand , she did not know exactly why her mother was crying ,sobbing silently by the sink, she had been fought off guard , defences down, she had told Sarah that it was nothing , just mammy being silly, but she knew right then that something had to change that life could not go on like this much longer. She had to get her daughter away from the situation they were in.
She remembered back to the happy times ,the loving husband , the caring father and thought for a brief moment that life could return to those bygone days. But things had gotten out of hand the mood swings and the beatings had increased in number and ferocity and she feared for her life and that of her child. Somewhere in the back of her tired mind she recalled seeing a poster with a picture of a lady cowering in the corner fearful and she remembers seeing for the first time how low she was buried in a corner with nowhere to turn. She remembered the well women’s centre but did not dare to write down the number for fear that John would find out and she new only too well the consequences, she even trembled at the thought of it , and looked around to see if he was standing there ,his eyes piercing into her inner thoughts.
One day while he was at work she plucked up the courage dialled directory enquiries and in a quiet trembling voice asked for the number .
When Sarah arrived home from school that afternoon she noticed a small suitcase in the hallway , she was surprised to see her mother standing there with her coat on. She had explained to her that they were going away for a few days. She could change out of her uniform when they got there, they would have to rush or they would miss the bus. ” what about Daddy” Sarah cried ,don’t worry darling he will meet us later.
Here she stands staring into the mirror fearful of what lies ahead but thankful at last that she was moving on.