I was never so proud of my daughter and so grateful to my Dad.
On the flight back, Ella said:
''Grand-Dad knew he would never leave you alone. You are the one who escaped. He can't accept that. He may be my biological dad, but he'll never be a father to me.''
I keep her hand in mine.
I won't move again. I am tired of running. Ella is an adult now. She'll be fine.
The sun is magnificient through the clouds. I close my eyes briefly and I drift into a sleep full of new beginnings.
When my sister called, I knew it was time to come back. I booked a direct flight Toronto-London but I knew in my heart that we were too late.
I didn't get to say Good Bye to Dad.
At the funeral, a hand grabbed my wrist and a chilling voice said:
''We meet again, whore, but not soon enough.''
He didn't even acknwolegde Ella, his daughfer.
''Get away from her, you old degenerate.''
She waved a copy of a legal document.
''You can't come near us for 500 yards.''
''Grand-dad sent it to me'' she smiled.
Time passed. It took me a long time to learn to relax. Everytime the door bell rang, I'd jump. I avoided any kind of relationship or any links with my old life. I moved regularly. It was not ideal for Ella, my daughter but at least, she grew up a happy child.
In time, I told her all about her father.
When I finally got a divorce, we moved again. I didn't want him to know where we were.
When Mum passed away, Dad told me not to come for her funeral. ''Still to dangerous for you, girls,'' he said.
Sitting at the back of the car with the baby, I look at the two figures in front.
They don't talk but Dad is checking his mirror frequently. Mum checks the side mirror.
We had a narrow escape. Did he sense something? He came home so unexpectedly. As we turned round the corner, we saw his car racing towards our building. He didn't notice us.
Dad drives a borrowed car with privacy windows. They told me to leave everything behind. They bought all what I needed to start over. They even destroyed my phone.
We speed away in the night.
''Mum, we need to talk. I don't have much time.''
Sitting in the kitchen, I finally told her everything. All what I endured for the last four years. I showed her the hidden bruises, the cuts.
Mum was horrified.
-Lovey, why didn't you say anything before?
I just looked at her, reproachful. She hanged her head in shame.
-Leave to me, your dad will know what to do.
-Please Mum, careful. I'm scared!
The final straw had come in the morning when he kicked me out of the bed and tried to suffocate the crying baby.
Enough was finally enough!
My parents decided to give an early Christmas party to welcome their first grand-child.
Everyone was commenting how our baby looked like him. No, the baby looked like me but why disturbing their happiness by mentioning it?
He was his usual charming self, all smiles and concern for all the guests. I couldn't fault his acting but I hated him for it. Despised him.
Despised myself even more.
The morning scene crept into my mind again.
-A effing bitch. You couldn't even produce a boy. You fat, stupid cow.
I could teach him a thing or two in biology.
People say that a baby changes everything. It is true. At first, he was very attentive, nearly affectionate. I think he simply relished in all the attention he was getting from our families. It goes without saying that both sets of mothers had long afternoon tea sessions, discussing names, the nursery and gender.
They consulted him for everything and made sure he was well looked after. I was mostly indisposed with morning sickness, so I was scolded for not taking enough care of myself during this most important time of our lives. But I didn't care, happy for some respite.
Mum called Dad, who in turn, called my sister Lilly in Scotland who called Aunt Gwen in Wales who called Uncle Rob in Alaska .
Everyone knew in matter of minutes that I was expecting. When he came back in the evening, I didn't understand why he had his bad days look. I automatically sank back into the wall.
-So, he snarled, any scrap of worthy news left for me?
I must have looked befuddled because he added in a sneer:
-You are carrying my baby and you don't think to tell me first?
-It's not like this, I wimpered.
I dial Mum nonetheless. I need my Mum to tell me she loves me, that all will be well.
What was I thinking? Mum is so taken by him. She tells me how lucky I am. She reminds me how he swept me off my feet with his boyish charm
and his caring manners when I first met him at my graduation party.
Everyone loved him, everyone loves him,
Perhaps it's me, she sighs. She says he could have had any girl. I believe he could but he picked me.
And now, I am pregnant. How luckier can I get?
I look through the window, at the rain on the rooftops and I feel trapped.
There was a definite blue line on the pregnancy kit.
Oh God, I don't want to bring a child in this marriage but he gave me no choice. He flushed my pills down the toilet and made his mission to get me pregnant.
I should have walked away but I stayed by cowardice.
I look at the kit again, shake it for good measure, the blue line doesn't fade.
I want to talk to Mum, tell her how I feel but I know it's hopeless.
I should appreciate him more, I know. So what if he has a little anger problem?
I am not perfect myself, I do provoke him by being sloppy. Sometimes, I leave things out, not bothered. I've never been great at housekeeping. Mum and Dad never cared, saying there are more important things than cleaning.
I was brought up in a happy-go-lucky home,
The only thing my parents insisted was a solid education.
As for the rest, God, life, fate would take care of it.
He disagrees. Everything has to be in order, in its proper place, proper sequence.
Unconsciously, I rub the purple patch on my arm. In anger, he squeezed it too hard. It still hurt a little but it was my fault really, I made the coffee too hot and he was already late.
I know his boss is very strict on punctuality but still, I was careless.
He is right, I am bloody useless, I can't even make a cup of coffee properly.
Now he is asleep. He came back late last night so, I make sure I don't make noise while I scrub the flat.
He likes everything immaculate, I never noticed that before.
Easter Monday, it is not only raining on the city but also raining in my life.
I wonder why I have become so weak. Three years of marriage, it's all what it took to get myself in this state. Why have I allowed myself to be bullied, I just don't know. Three years of second guessing myself.
I could walk out, I should walk out
I know I can, but I won't. Don't ask me why, I don't know or, maybe I know but I am confused.
I know I couldn't walk out now.
Maybe yesterday, I still had time.
The blows started and the buckle of his belt cut deep into my skin. His shoe connected with my head until I lost consciousness...
I woke up in hospital with two broken ribs and I could barely see from one eye.
The police was asking him questions and I thought, that's it, they'll caution him but to my horror, he was spinning a tale how thugs has set upon us when we arrived home.
They'd hit him first and he'd lie hopeless while they beat me up and took my bag. He had a huge purple bruise on his cheek.
Mum urged him to take me to a doctor and then added, ''it is time for you both to have a baby. She'll feel better.''
He promised to make sure I was ok, that he was sorry for not realising the extend of my illness.
On the way home, he didn't say anything, but I knew, by his way of driving, that he was annoyed.
As soon as the door closed, he threw me against the wall, yelled that I showed him up in front of everyone. I was a stupid bitch, crying to get sympathy. I had disrespected him.
At the dinner table, his put downs were very subtle. I cringed every time he patted my hand while saying how careless I was, how I shouldn't have left work as staying home without stimulation had clouded my brain and even my friends were avoiding me.
I was listening, unable to say anything to put the record right. So, he just carried on discussing me, apparently full of concern, as if I was not there.
When I couldn't take it anymore, tears erupted and I sobbed, ruining everyone's merriness.
Mum was horrified. She told him I must be in depression.
Life was like walking in a mine field.
Christmas came. A time for being with family, to be merry, to catch up with everyone's life.
My parents were shocked to see how much weight I'd lost. Mum kept making a fuss about the dark circles under my eyes.
She scolded him playfully for not taking good care of me and, for the first time, I saw him for what he really was,
I saw a Master of deception at work.
He turned on the charm tap, managed to twist everything Mum said and eventually all blame was laid on me.
Not even as a child. We fought and I cried. He apologised, saying he loved me so much, he got jealous.
He tenderly touched where his hand had left a mark and dried my tears.
The next day, he brought me flowers and an expensive gold chain. He sobbed, begged for my forgiveness. He said he didn't know what came over him. He'd never wanted to hurt me but it was also my fault, I'd provoked him when I danced closely with his friend.
I fell for it...I apologised.
And this was the first step to my descend into Hell.
He did not ask much, just a tidy home, a pretty and relaxed wife, like everyone else. Was this so hard?
We still went out from time to time with his friends.
One of them said ''long time no see, lovely'' and asked for a dance.
On the way home, he accused me of being a cheap flirt, a tart.
He expected his wife to behave with more dignity.
I tried to defend myself, saying he was crazy, I wouldn't look at anyone else.
This was when he slapped me. I was stunned. I've never been slapped in my life.
It was easy to do, without the bonding of the work place. Some kept in touch though, they would call when he was not around.
Then, all of a sudden, he started to retreat into dark moods.
''Your family doesn't like me, they judge me. They think I'm not good enough for you.''
I tried to reassure him the best I could, swore my family adored him. I tried to show more love, tried to not to irritate him.
I knew his work pressure was high and here I was, making it worse by not being supportive enough. A failure.