She had been warned, but now it was too late. This is what her Mother reminded her of just months after the wedding.
Four years on, things had progressed further than she could have imagined.
While her daughter Caroline played blissfully unaware outside, Anna had to face her punishment.
Andrew had come home to find things were not to his satisfaction.
Each day the rules, the boundaries and expectations changed. One day it would be that the food she had cooked wasn’t good enough to serve to a hard working man, the next it would be that the cleaning had suffered because she’d spent too long preparing the food.
Nobody could possibly live up to the standards that Andrew kept on dreaming up, but still, she had no choice. It wasn’t right for a child to go without it’s Father. Anna had said those vows and meant them with the very essence of her being. And now there was nothing to do but keep to those vows and please her husband.
She bore the brunt of the beating Andrew gave her, listened with exaggerated attention to the words he spat at her.
The one saving grace was that since Caroline had been born, he would no longer strike her anywhere that her clothes didn’t cover. She knew how to cope with daily life with a cracked or bruised rib.
When he had grown tired of berating his wife, Andrew set off for the local pub. He spent time in there every night. Anna would sit at home and hope he would drink so much that he would feel amorous when he got home. That way he would soon fall asleep and she could rest knowing he was sleeping deeply.
The next few hours belonged to her and Caroline. They had supper on the doorstep as it was still bright and sunny outside. The evening was almost perfect. She nearly let herself nod off as she held her child after reading a story together. But she knew that if Andrew didn’t have his anger sated tonight, next time would be worse.
So she reluctantly crept downstairs to wait for him to come home.
Sleep had almost washed over her when the door opened. She sat upright and took what she had coming to her. Andrew would be so much more brutal if she complained or tried to resist.
Her only comfort was that he didn’t know she’d learnt how to switch off, to numb the pain. Her mind, her soul was elsewhere in a happy life dancing with her child barefoot and carefree.
Eventually his anger turned into hysterical sobs as Andrew dropped to Anna’s feet. She held him like she did every time, waited for the sobs to subside before leading him to the bedroom and laying in his arm for the rest of the night.
7 am brought the same words it always did after a night like the last, ‘I’m so sorry Darling, I’m sure you’ll try harder today’.