August 6, 2011
News of the soldiers return spread like wild fire through the village. Excited wives began running around making sure everything was perfect for when their husbands returned. Children were thrilled that their fathers were coming home; parents desperately organizing welcome home parties. Even my mother was putting on a facade and organizing a welcome home party for Charles’ return.
Me? I was dreading it.
For months I had been living in this perfect bubble with Jonathon, and now that bubble was about to burst.
My mother constantly tried assuring me that her plan would work and that after the dinner party, Charles would leave me alone forever. My nerves had been getting worse each day we got closer to his return.
Today was Charle’s return and our plan was set in motion at the dinner party in the evening. I wasn’t as confident as my mother; she didn’t know Charles like I did. What evil things he was capable of.
I had no intention of Charles being able to get anywhere near me tonight, I made sure that I was ready to leave the moment he walked through the door.
I didn’t have to wait to long for his return. Nerves shot through me as I heard the door slam shut and his heavy footsteps stomping up the stairs. With a shaking hand, I nervously placed a small amount of perfume that Jonathon had bought me behind each ear, on my left wrist and neckline. I then rubbed my wrists together and stood up, pulling my coat on quickly as Charles walked through the bedroom door.
“My parents are throwing you a welcome home dinner,” I smiled as sweetly as I could manage “Everyone will be there,” I blurted out quickly.
“Esme!” he practically growled. “I’ve just walked in the door and you’re fussing over a dinner?”
“Sorry Charles, it’s just, you’re a little later than we thought. And we have to leave for my parent’s house shortly,” I said, forcing the smile to stay on my face.
It wasn’t strictly true; Jonathon had managed to find out roughly what time Charles would be home and insisted my parents held the dinner no more than an hour later; he was worried about me being left alone with him too long.
Charles’s had a smug look on his face. “I do deserve a party I suppose.”
“Of course you do, dear.” I smiled, every inch of me cringing inside. All I wanted was to get as far away from him as possible, to be back in my bubble with Jonathon.
“Get over here” he growled. I took a deep breath, the fear coursing through my body instantly. Charles stood next to what I now considered Jonathon’s side of the bed, taking his clothes off.
“You owe me,” he scowled. I could feel the panic rising in my throat – it had been so long since I had been around Charles that, although I could never forget the hurt he cause, I had allowed myself not to think about it. But now, with him in front of me this way, there was no way I could ignore it any longer.
“We don’t have time now,” I said, trying to keep the smile from falling off my face. “We wouldn’t want to let our parents down would we?” I looked over at the clock, trying to prove my point. We only had another 15 minutes before we had to leave, and he still needed to wash and get dressed.
“Fine!” he snapped. “But tonight, you will do whatever I say!”
“Of course,” I nodded. How I managed to get out of that situation was a miracle. But I’d gotten stronger these last months, and I wasn’t going to allow him to ever touch me again.
“Esme, for Christ’s sake smile woman,” Charles warned me as we approached my Mom’s house. The nerves had kicked in on the way there. I knew that my Mom, Charles’s parents, Evie and Jonathon – my wonderful Jonathon – were on the other side of that door. I was scared to death that this wouldn’t work.
Walking through the door I was greeted by my mother enveloping me into an over affectionate hug.
“Don’t worry Esme,” she whispered into my ear. Without answering I offered a weak smile.
I felt sick. I was so worried.
Making my way into the reception room, I noticed Julia talking to Evie by the window. I slowly walked over to them, smiling weakly. I was so glad that they were both here, but this sickness feeling was really starting to get to me; I felt like I was going to vomit any moment.
“Julia, it’s a pleasure as always,” I smiled thankfully, kissing her on both cheeks. Completely aware that Charles was now standing only a few feet behind me and could obviously hear every word.
“Absolutely Esme. It really is a pleasure to see you again.”
“And you, Julia.” Turning to Evie I quickly kissed both of her cheeks.
“How are you darling?” I asked Evie, trying to act like everything was normal.
“About the same as the last time we saw each other.” Evie smiled at me.
Little did Charles know we had all been together this afternoon finalizing all the details of our plan. We had to keep the facade while he was still within earshot. Although he was talking to his father, I could tell he wasn’t concentrating, he was staring intently at us as we chatted – he was listening.
“Excuse me ladies, I’m just going to get another drink,” Julia said, intentionally walking past Charles into the kitchen.
I made my way slowly around the room greeting everyone. I was talking to Evie again when I saw Jonathon enter the room; I was momentarily distracted by him. I wished so much I could just run up to him and hold him. My thoughts about my love began to run away with me when Evie snapped me back to consciousness.
“Look!” she hissed. I turned around quickly just in time to see Charles dragging Julia into the back garden. I nodded at her and turned to look again at Jonathon who had also noticed. The three of us followed them.
“How do you know my wife?” he growled in Julia’s face. Luckily, he had his back turned to us, so he didn’t see us as we walked up behind him.
“What do you mean?” I asked, causing Charles to spin round as he glared at me, Jonathon and Evie. “We’ve had plenty of time to get to know each other while you were away.”
“What?” he growled. “What’s going on here?”
I sucked in a deep breath, then began, speaking with confidence now. “Charles, do you remember the dinner party my parents threw for the soldiers last time you were back?” Before he could answer I continued on. “Of course you do, you wouldn’t be out here harassing Julia if you didn’t.”
“Well, erm…yes, of course I remember the party. Julia and I sat next to each other. I was merely coming out here to say hello again,” he stuttered, trying to worm his way out of the situation.
“That’s not quite true though is it Charles?” Julia stated.
“Shut up, you stupid girl,” Charles hissed at Julia.
“That’s enough Charles!” I said, finally having the courage to stand up to this monster. “Charles, this has all been set up to lure you out here. I have had enough of the way you treat me and I think it is high time you felt some of the humiliation that you cause me on a daily basis.”
“Ha!” he laughed and rolled his eyes. “You think I have treated you badly? Esme, I have supported you, provided for you. What more do you want?”
“Love. I want Love Charles, you are a very sick and twisted person. You think it is perfectly acceptable to force me to do things I don’t want to do, you treat me as if I am a possession. I am your wife, Charles. I am not here for you to treat like dirt.”
“Amen to that,” Chorused Jonathon, Evie and Julia in unison.
“What the hell is this?” Charles fumed
“I told you Charles, I won’t take this anymore. I don’t deserve this. So we have a proposition for you, one that, if you’re sensible, you will jump at the chance to accept.”
“I’m not agreeing to anything. You have nothing on me.” He smiled, almost laughing.
“Well actually, that’s where I come in,” Julia Smiled back. “You see, my brother is a doctor, and after I found out about Esme’s predicament, I offered to help.”
Charles face looked confused. I tried desperately not to smile.
I took a step closer to Charles and spoke to him like he were a child. “Charles, you have two options, The first, and I think your best option, is to go back inside and during dinner you must announce that you are no longer in love with me…..”
“And why would I do that?” he interrupted.
“Charles, I haven’t finished. You are to tell everybody that you are not, and have never been, in love with me and that you can no longer hide your feelings. You are to tell them that you don’t want to be with me anymore.”
“I’ll do nothing of the sort.”
“Actually, you will Charles,” Julia said. “Because if you don’t, then I will tell everyone what happened between us at the last party.”
Charles looked at Julia with pure hatred in his eyes.
“You spiteful witch, you know full-well nothing happened.”
“Well that’s not entirely true though Charles,” Julia began, pulling out her secret weapon. “Because you see, I have this bit of paper here,” she smiled waving the paper in front of Charles, “and it says that you attacked, raped, and left me for dead. You know what that means, don’t you Charles?”
Charles said nothing.
“Come on Charles you’re a smart man: rape, attempted murder. That means prison.”
Turning to me it looked like Charles was about to attack me. I braced myself, ready for his attack. Luckily Jonathon stood in front of me.
“Oh no you don’t Charles. Not again. You have hurt Esme one too many times.”
“Who are you?” Charles demanded, glaring at Jonathon. Fear shot through my veins; what if he did something to Jonathon? Silently I started begging him not to hurt my Jonathon.
The confusion dropped off of Charles’s face. “Ahh, now I understand. You have found yourself another man, haven’t you Esme?” he asked. “While I have been out serving my country.”
“Charles, this is not about me, this is about you and the fact that I will not go through the torment you put me through on a daily basis. So now Charles, it is entirely down to you, which option are you going to choose?” I asked trying to change the subject and keep Charles’ attention.
“I … ” Charles started, taking a brief second to think about his answer… “I will not choose either. I will not be blackmailed into humiliating myself publically. And as for you,” Charles said, as he rounded on Julia, “I’m not scared of your little piece of paper.”
Charles turned back toward the house, storming to the drinks counter and poured himself a large drink.
I was scared.
I had thought that our plan would work out, and Charles would accept it. I underestimated him though, and should have known better. I know what he is capable of. The four of us looked at each other.
Jonathon turned to me. “Try not to worry my love. We will be together. No matter what it takes.”
It was at that point that my mother called us inside for dinner. I reluctantly let go of Jonathon, and headed back into the dining room. Charles was already seated, his evil eyes following us as we filed into the dining room. Reluctantly I walked towards my seat, the bile rising in my throat as I came nearer to the seat next to Charles. He had a sinister grin upon his face, and dread consumed me. Slowly I took my seat, fear coursing through my veins.
Dinner turned out to be a rather dull affair. Charles kept regaling everyone with stories from the war, no doubt trying to make himself sound like a hero. Every so often he would turn and sneer at me. The longer this went on the worse my nerves got, to the point I couldn’t take it anymore. I knew what he was doing, he was trying to call my bluff, he didn’t believe that I would actually go through with my threat.
Excusing myself, I headed upstairs to the washroom. I had to think, and think carefully. Closing the bathroom door behind me, I took several deep breaths. “This will work, this will work,” I repeated to myself continuously until I was interrupted by a knock at the door.
“Esme,” my mother whispered. “Let me in please, darling.” I unlocked the door and turned and sighed deeply.
“It’s not exactly going to plan mom. He wouldn’t agree to anything and I fear he is waiting to see if we will keep to our plan and use Julia.”
“You must follow through Esme; otherwise you will never get away. Come on,” she said, pulling me back downstairs.
Returning to my seat, I decided that I would no longer allow Charles to make me fearful of him. Cautiously I looked over to Julia and nodded slightly.
Julia slowly rose from her chair, coughing slightly as she tried to gain everyone’s attention. I nervously glanced at Jonathon, a soft discreet smile forming on his lips as our eyes met.
Charles noticed Julia standing up and he turned to me with pure hatred in his eyes.
“Don’t,” he hissed at me, barely audible.
“You stop it then Charles, because I Won’t.” I whispered back, turning to watch Julia so Charles couldn’t catch my attention again.
“Excuse me Ladies and Gentlemen, I have an announcement to make,” Julia began, her eyes darting all over the room.
Small beads of sweat began to form on Charles’ brow.
“…some time ago Mrs. Platt…”
“WAIT!” Charles almost shouted, causing me to jump in my seat.
Charles swallowed hard and stood up, addressing the waiting room. “Actually, I have something I need to say first. Do you mind Julia?” he asked. I noticed him lock eye contact with Jonathan as he spoke. “While I was away I realized something…” he paused taking a deep breath. “…I don’t love you Esme. I’ve, uh… never loved you,” he said, turning to face me. “I don’t want to be with you anymore.”
“Excuse me?” I shrieked, pretending to be shocked.
I looked around the room; everyone was either whispering to their neighbor or staring at me. I stood there, trying to look as shocked as I could. I stared at everyone in the room, pretending to look mortified. I kept thinking to myself that I had to play this part perfectly for us to get away with it.
“I can’t believe it, just like that? You don’t love me? After everything I have done for you? I have stood by you for 3 years!” I forced tears into my eyes by imagining that it was Jonathon telling me this. “I– I’m sorry, I have to get some air.” I turned and rushed towards the door, desperate to get outside so I could stop pretending.
Evie and Jonathon rushed outside after me to “check on me.” Turning to face them, I noticed the broad grins on their faces.
“That went well I think,” I stated, probably noting the obvious but at this point I really didn’t care.
I was free.
“Do you think you’re clever Esme?” Charles shouted at me as he stormed towards us, his face like thunder. “You have brought shame to me and my family. My parents will never speak to me again.”
Jonathon stepped in front of Evie and I, protecting me for the second time this evening.
“I think you have caused Esme enough hurt for one lifetime, don’t you Charles?” Jonathon asked, taking my hand is his. “Now, I suggest you leave. I don’t care where you go, but you will not be returning to Esme’s house, do you understand me”
“You WILL NOT get away with this, do YOU understand ME?” Charles spat at us. “Know this Esme: I will not be leaving town. I will be here, watching and waiting, for my revenge.”
I knew for sure that Charles would seek revenge; I knew that Jonathon and I would still have to leave, to protect our love and most importantly to protect the life that was growing in my stomach.
Love Esme xx