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December

22nd

Esme’s Diary (Chapter 19: Empty)

Dear Diary,

“NOOO!” I screamed, dropping to my knees. My son’s still warm, lifeless body still in my arms. Why? Why my beautiful little boy? What did I do to deserve this? Had I really been that bad that I deserved to lose the two most important people in my life?

“WELL?!” I screamed, louder this time, making my throat hoarse. Willing my silent questions to be answered.

“ANSWER ME YOU BLOODY COWARD,” I cried, causing nurse Rosemary to come running into my room. I stopped screaming, falling backwards onto the floor. Rocking myself back and forth a cradling my lifeless angel close to me, as if I were soothing him.

“Why? Why did you do it Johnathon?” I asked the tears unwilling to relent now that they had started. “Was it not enough that I lost you? You had to take my son away too?”

Looking down at my son, I took in everything about him. He looked so peaceful. I tried desperately to ingrain every inch of his body into my mind so that I wouldn’t forget him. My heart broke as I looked at how small he was, how small he would always be. A constant reminder that I failed him, failed as a mother, failed as a wife.

Failed at everything.

I hadn’t noticed that the nurse still stood in the room watching me intently.

“Ahem,” Rosemary coughed, trying to get my attention. I looked up, startled, only now remembering she was in the room.

I tried to ignore her, hoping that she would leave me alone with my son. The time I had with him now was precious, and she was ruining it.

“Mrs. Walker?” she asked, trying to get my attention.

“Don’t call me that,” I replied in a firm voice. She just looked at me, bviously confused. I certainly wasn’t going to explain to her that I didn’t want to be called that. Why it reminded me of my dead lover. Why I was angry at him for taking our baby and leaving me alone.

“Er… Mrs., uhm… Esme? It’s time,” she said to me, undoubtedly trying her best to sound sympathetic – but I could still hear the annoyed undertone in her voice.

I looked at her more confused than ever before. What did she mean? Time for what?

“It’s time to take … Robert downstairs,” she said, partially answering my unspoken question.

I still didn’t understand though.

“What do you mean? Time for him to go downstairs. He’s not going anywhere. He’s staying with me, where he belongs.”

“Mrs. Wal…” – she paused, catching her own mistake -  “Esme,” she corrected. “We have to take Robert to the morgue.” Her voice was firm.

“No,” I hissed, pulling his body even closer to mine, he wasn’t going anywhere. My baby needed his mom. I wasn’t going to let a stranger take my baby away from me. He needed me more now than ever. My son didn’t belong in a morgue; he belonged with me. He would get cold in the morgue – he needed my body heat to keep him warm.

“Mrs.  Esme,” Rosemary sighed, an unflattering tone now evident in her voice.  I knew she was becoming more and more annoyed with my defiance. “I am really sorry about your son. Truly I am. But we need to take him now.” Didn’t she understand? Is it so hard to understand that I needed to have him close to me. That I couldn’t let him go.

“Over my dead body!” I spat, turning on my bottom so that I was no longer facing her. “Wake up baby, please wake up,” I whispered into my sons fine whispers of hair.  I knew it was a feeble attempt, but I was desperate. I needed him to wake up, needed to hear his sweet cry again. The babies cry was coming from the next room and the urge to scream through my tears over took me. Where was that babies mother? Why wasn’t she caring for him?

“Esme  don’t do this,” Rosemary sighed. I heard her walking slowly, almost warily  towards me and a few seconds later she placed her hand on my shoulder. “You have to let go.”

“Never,” I scowled, shaking her hand of my shoulder. I didn’t want this heartless woman touching me. Who was she telling me to let go? I should be telling her to let go of her ridiculous idea.

My tears were falling thick and fast from my face now and some of them were landing with an almost silent splash on Robert’s cheek. “Sorry angel,” I whispered as I reached my hand up to slowly wipe the tears away. It was a harrowing sight, the place my tears had landed on his face made it look as if he was crying. How I wished that was so. I would never hear him cry again, never again wipe tears from his eyes. The sobs made my body shake as I took my time wiping the tear drops away, brushing his skin only slightly and ignoring the pleas coming from Rosemary behind me.

“Come back Robert,” I cried “Please come back.” I continued stroking his face as the tears fell onto him. I heard Rosemary saying something about a doctor and then she left the room again. I continued looking at my boy, still willing for him to wake up, to look at me.

“Mrs. Walker?” Rosemary’s not too familiar voice called from somewhere behind me.

“What did I  just tell you about that? ” I stopped talking as I turned and saw a small team of doctors by the door, blocking any exit from the room. “What’s going on?” I asked, panic rising in my throat.

“It’s time to say goodbye now Mrs. Walker,” one of the doctors sighed as he took a few slow steps towards me.

“What is going on?” I repeated clutching Robert closer to my chest as I noticed the needle in the doctor’s hand.

“It’s time to say goodbye to Robert now,” the doctor repeated as he came to stand in front of me. I looked pleadingly up into his eyes which seemed to be mirroring my pain. “I am so very sorry,” he whispered as he leaned in to me.

“No! Robert! No!” I screamed desperately as I felt the sharp prick of a needle in my arm.

***

I was drowsy when I woke up, as if I had been sleeping forever. The first thing I noticed was that someone had dressed me. The clothes seemed to weigh heavily on my chest. I kept my eyes rested shut when I heard the door open. The last thing I needed was for them to poke and prod me with more needles – not if it left me feeling like this.

My arms felt painfully empty by my sides and I fought the urge to wrap them around myself as I heard the faint footsteps come towards my bed. They stopped at the end of my bed and I concentrated all my effort in keeping my eyes pressed closed.

“I’m sorry,” whispered a musical voice.

There was a slight rustle of paper and then the footsteps began to head away again. I opened my eyes only slightly to see a young man leave the room. He was dressed in a white shirt and faded grey pants. He walked with undeniable grace. As he reached the door he turned back to look and me and smiled sympathetically. I was still drowsy because of the drugs they had given me, but even through my daze I wasn’t able to mistake how young and beautiful my visitor was. His facial features seemed so familiar to me – and yet at the same time I was certain I had never seen him before. He turned away again, walked out the door and was gone.

As the door shut a beautiful cry filled my ears, waking me instantly. “Robert!” I breathed, leaping out of the bed. Had it all been a dream? It must have been. Robert was here. The noise of the door had startled him. I practically jumped forward to the crib at the end of my bed and looked into it. I could feel the relieved smile fall off my face as I looked into the crib.

It was empty.

It hadn’t been a dream, it had been real. My baby was really gone. I reached down and pulled his hand-knitted blue blanket from the crib and placed it against my chest as my sobs broke free again while I sank back into the bed. I breathed in the scent of Robert on his blanket; the scent I was already missing so badly.

It was only then that I noticed the piece of paper at the end of the bed. Out of mere curiosity I opened it up. Before even reading the wording, I noticed how elegant the handwriting was.

To my Darling Mommy, there are some things I’d like to say.

But first of all, I have to tell you that I have arrived okay.

I’m writing this from heaven. Here I dwell with Dad above.

Here, there’s no more tears of sadness;

Here is just eternal love.

Please don’t be unhappy that I’m out of sight.

Remember that I am with you every morning, noon and night.

That day I had to leave you when my life on earth was through.

Dad picked me up and hugged me and He said, “I welcome you.”

It’s good to have you back again,

You were missed while you were gone.

As for your darling mother, she’ll be here later on.

I need you here badly, you’re part of my plan.

There’s so much that we have to do, to help our mortal man,”

Dad gave me a list of things that he wished for me to do.

And foremost on the list, was to watch and care for you.

And when you lie in bed at night the day’s chores put to flight.

Dad and I are closest to you….in the middle of the night.

I wish that I could tell you all that Dad has planned.

If I were to tell you, you wouldn’t understand.

But one thing is for certain, though, my life on earth is over.

I’m closer to you now, than I ever was before.

There are many rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb;

But together we can do it by taking it one day at a time.

It was always my philosophy and I’d like it for you too;

That as you give unto the world, the world will give to you.

If you can help somebody who’s in sorrow and pain;

Then you can say to yourself at night……”My day was not in vain.”

And now I am contented…that my life was worthwhile.

Knowing as I passed along the way I made somebody smile.

So if you meet somebody who is sad and feeling low;

Just lend a hand to pick him up, as on your way you go.

When you’re walking down the street

and you’ve got me on your mind;

I’m walking in your footsteps only half a step behind.

And when it’s time for you to go, for that body to be free.

Remember you’re not going…..you’re coming home to me.

When I was finished reading I looked back towards the doorway. Had the young beautiful figure been an angel? An angel sent to bring me a letter from my baby? I re-read it a number of times and then pressed it to my chest along with Robert’s blanket. Was this really him was letting me know he was alright?

An hour or so later a nurse bought me in something to eat. I was relieved to learn that Rosemary’s shift was over and subsequently she had gone home. The new nurse insisted I ate before I could go home. I half nibbled at the food, my appetite practically non-existent as the tears continued to flow down my face. Half an hour later – and having only managed a potato and a few bites of my undercooked pie – I pushed the plate away.

“I’m going home,” I told the nurse. She glanced up at me from her paperwork. My tone left no room for argument as I picked up Robert’s blanket and letter before heading towards the door. Nobody stopped me, or even so much as looked at me as I walked off the ward and eventually out the front exit.

Esme x

December

20th

Esme’s Diary (Chapter 18: Heartbroken)

Dear Diary,

“I’m sorry Mrs. Walker, there is nothing more we can do.”

My head spun viciously and I felt like I was about to be sick. I could feel my knees clicking together, about to give out. How could this be happening? He was so young, so innocent – there had to be something I could do. Anything.

Robert couldn’t die. My beautiful baby boy couldn’t die. I wouldn’t let him.

“H-How long?” I choked eventually.

The doctor’s face looked grave as he looked up into my eyes. “A few hours at the most. I am so sorry.”

He went on to explain that Robert’s infection had now overtaken his lungs and there was no treatment available for him. My legs finally gave way when he told me that if the condition had been picked up sooner. he would have have had a stronger chance at survival.

The doctor scooped me up from the floor. “Are you all right?” he asked, his eyes narrowed in concern. I felt like hitting him. All right? I was far from all right; my son was dying and now he was telling me that if the doctors had done their job properly in the first place he might be okay.

“Let me get a nurse to help you,” he continued, not giving me a chance to get the rant off my chest. He pulled a chair around for me to sit on and scurried off quickly to find a nurse.

What was going on in this hospital? How could they even call it that? My son could be at home now, he could be well… if only they had noticed the symptoms when he was born. I was beyond angry, and yet, I couldn’t show it. All I wanted now was to be with my son. I stood up from the chair and began walking towards the ward.

“Mrs. Walker?” called a friendly sounding female voice from behind me. It took me a few moments to realize she was calling me; my mind was elsewhere. By the time it had registered I was halfway onto the ward and she had caught up with me. I looked at her name tag, it read Rosemary.

Rosemary’s voice didn’t match her face; she had dark set eyes and looked as if she was incredibly unhappy to be working here. Her hair hung down to her shoulders and I was trying to work out where I knew her from. She looked familiar.

“Let’s get you to a bed,” she began, leading me by the elbow in the opposite direction from my son. “I will bring your baby to you shortly. It’s” – she looked down at the clipboard in her hand– “Andrew isn’t it?”

“No!” I exclaimed as we reached the bed. “His names Robert!” I suddenly remembered why this nurse looked so familiar. It had been only a few short days since I had last seen her. She was one of the nurse’s who’d examined Robert when he was born.

“My mistake,” she said apologetically before patting the bed. “If you get up on here, you may wish to remove your top. Certain studies have shown that babies tend to respond better to their mothers when they are skin to skin.”

“I know,” I muttered, climbing up onto the bed. I didn’t need this woman telling me what my son did or didn’t like. He was a part of me. I knew what was best for him – not her.

I sat upright on the bed and removed my top – not bothering to either care or worry that others were around to see me – and I waited patiently for Rosemary to bring my sick baby boy to me.

A few minutes later I spotted her slowly turn the corner, cradling my son in her arms. She was bent over him slightly and cooing to him, muttering soothing words. Could she walk any slower? In that instant I found myself wanting to hurt her more than I had ever wanted to hurt anyone in my life. She was taking away some of my last precious moments. Robert let out a soft whimper and she stroked his face. Worst of all, she was doing my job!

I was about to say something to her, but then Rosemary eventually laid Robert across my chest and half–heartedly threw a blanket over us. My anger was forgotten in that moment. I had my son with me and that was all that mattered.

I noticed that Robert was only wearing a diaper and I wondered briefly whether this was another sign of the hospital begin incompetent, or maybe negligent was a better term. I knew I had packed him enough warm clothes. Surely with his lung infection he should be kept warm?

But in the same moment that the thought entered my mind, I disregarded it. If Robert was leaving me then I wanted to…no, I needed to have him close. I wanted to feel his warm skin against mine once more. Yet this would still never be enough. I would never have enough time with my son. Where’s the justice in that?

His skin was still so warm to touch. How could a dying baby – with no clothes on- be so warm? Maybe they had made a mistake after all.

But the mistake was mine. Not even a second later, Robert coughed again. It wasn’t a general cough. It was a gut-wrenching, phlegm–filled cough. In an effort to help him, I gently patted his back. It didn’t appear to help. He spluttered loudly and his breathing became more strained. I repositioned him on my chest so that his head was rested on my naked breast.

And then I felt it.

I could feel his tiny heartbeat pounding away against mine, the timing was regular, although for every five beats mine did his only managed two. I ran one finger across his head and gently down his back. His heart seemed to respond to my touch, something I had never noticed before. Or maybe it was because I had never thought to pay attention. I wasn’t sure, though I wished I could be.

When I touched him, his heart rate quickened until it was almost in competition with mine. The sensation scared me a little. Was this a good or bad thing? I couldn’t be sure. And I didn’t want to bother a nurse with it. They would probably want to examine him again, which would take away more of what little time I had left with him. That thought didn’t flow right:

What little time I had left with him.

There was so much wrong with that statement. The time I had left with my son should, by rights, be limited by my own life, not by his. I would trade with him without a seconds delay if I could. Trade my own life to allow him the chance to have a childhood, an education, a family.

I continued to gently run my finger up and down his back. Feeling his tiny, fragile heart beating against my chest gave me hope; and it was hope that I needed right now.

I began humming a medley of lullaby’s and nursery rhymes to him. But my mind was too erratic to to settle on any one rhyme in particular so I flitted between them. I mentally scolded myself; I couldn’t even get this right for him.

I knew what Johnathon would say if he were here right now, watching me struggle with something as menial as nursery rhymes. “Do not worry love, he doesn’t know the difference.”

But I knew the difference. I knew that I couldn’t do this one last thing for him. I’m his Mommy, the only person he had in the world, and I couldn’t even sing to him right. I just wanted to do something that would distract his mind from the pain and discomfort he must have been feeling.

My poor baby.

I spent a while trying to hum the lullaby’s for him, stroking his back as I did so. I was breathing in his smell. Robert’s smell was the most gorgeous scent in the world. I breathed in deeply, filling my body with his sweet, innocent scent. I was trying to capture it so that I would never forget, never allow myself to forget my beautiful baby boy.

There was so much I wanted to say to him, but I didn’t know where to start. “Robert, my poor boy,” I began in a shaky whisper. “You have no idea how much joy you have brought to my life in your few short days. You are everything I could have asked for and more.”

He lightly gripped my finger and I marvelled at the difference between a few days ago and now; another sign that his otherwise perfect body was failing him. I knew this was his way of trying to tell me how weak he felt, this was his special way of showing me.

“I’m so sorry,” I choked out. “I wish I could make it all better. I’d do anything… anything to stop you from feeling this way. But I don’t know what to do.” Robert dropped his grip on my finger then; as if my response to his touch had reassured him of my guilt – either that or his strength had gone.

I checked his heart rate again against my chest and it was slightly weaker, the beats had become more irregular now, there was no pattern to the faint beating in his chest.

“If things had been different, if things had been right, I would have made you happy. You would have had everything I could afford. There are no lengths I wouldn’t have gone to achieve the best for you. Even now.”

Robert shifted slightly and his usually big, bright eyes looked up into mine. I tried to disguise the gasp I let out as a yawn. Robert’s eyes had darkened, and there was large purple shadows underneath them. I was certain those marks weren’t there an hour ago. His skin was stretched painfully over his cheekbones and I was certain that if I weighed him now I would discover he’d lost weight since last night.

I looked down into his pain-filled eyes and a single sob jerked through my body. My sob caused Robert to shake slightly on my chest and his his beautiful cry filled the air around me. This wasn’t a cry I had heard before, he wasn’t asking for a feed, nor was he telling me he had soiled his diaper. This cry was a cry of pain.

I gently rubbed his back to calm him. “I know baby, I know. I’m so sorry.” I kept repeating those words in a feeble attempt to calm him.

After a few agonizing minutes his sobs died down and he drifted off into an uneasy sleep. His breathing became irregular and labored. Every breath sounded painful as he gasped for his next. I carried on talking to him, not knowing when or if he would ever wake again.

“I’m so sorry I have let you down. Maybe if I had brought you here sooner then we would be at home now, carrying on our special life together. And what a life we would have had.” I smiled to myself – although only slightly – at the thought of everything we could have done together.

“I would have taken you everywhere with me, showed you off proudly to anyone who would have listened. I’d have comforted you when you cried, cried tears of joy when you mumbled your first word, cheered for you when you took your first step, and cuddled you tight when you stumbled.”

I felt the unsettling and yet comforting flutter of my baby’s heartbeat against my skin and continued with my idealistic fairytale. “And on your first day at school I would have walked you to the school gates and watched through tear-filled eyes as you walked away from me to begin learning the things I was unable to teach you. I would have taken you to the park and tried my best to teach you to play ball. And once you were big enough, I’d have taken you on your first horse.”

I leaned down and kissed Robert lightly on the head, breathing in his scent again, still trying to catalogue it into my brain so I would never forget it. “And every Christmas I would have taken you into town and smiled as I watched your eyes grow wide with wonder at the beautiful candles and carol singers around the tree. We probably wouldn’t have ever had a lot of money to spare, but I would have made sure you had everything you needed. My boy would never go without.”

I sighed to myself as the images played through my mind, images that would never be played out. I kissed my son once more on the head and willed him to wake up,  just for a moment so he could hear about our life together. His breathing was becoming more painful now I was beginning to worry that I would never see his beautiful eyes again. To try and distract us both from what was happening I carried on with my dreams for the future.

“When you got older, I’d have stood at your graduation and been the proudest mom there. And then one day you would meet a kind, lovely girl who would steal your heart.” I wrapped my arms tighter around Robert at the thought, but then realized I would much prefer to loose him to another woman than this way and lessened my grip. “I’d most likely hate her,” I laughed slightly as I ran my hand across the back of his head and whispered, “because no one would ever be good enough for my boy.”

Robert was letting out loud choking sounds as he struggled to get his next breath. I instinctively patted his back in an attempt to clear away the blockage in his throat that didn’t exist. I was willing my tears to fall now, but they wouldn’t. What was wrong with me? My son was laying here dying in my arms and I couldn’t cry for him. What kind of woman was I?

His shallow breaths were further apart now and I could tell his tiny heart was failing him. I could feel the difference in the strength of each beat, he was getting weaker by the second.

“And one day,” I continued, “you would marry and have a family of your own. Oh, how I wish that for you. I’d willingly skip everything in between just so that you could experience love;  the love for a partner, the love you’d feel for your own child. Words cannot explain the affect that having a child can have on your life. You and your daddy are the most important people to have ever graced my life. I so wish he was here with us now, Robert. The only comfort I have from this is that I know he will look after you. I am sure of that.”

Robert’s chest rose and fell ever so slightly against mine. If he wasn’t pressed so close to me I was sure I would never have been able to even tell he was still breathing. I pressed my cheek against his head and it was only now that I noticed how cold he had gotten in the time we had been sitting there together. I got up from the bed, wrapped the blanket tightly around us and began pacing the floor around the bed, rocking him gently in an attempt to warm him.

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” I kept repeating as I tried my best to warm him. I pressed my hand to his face and rubbed gently to try and generate some heat between him and I.

“Johnathon where are you?” I hissed quietly out the corner of my mouth. I needed him here. I knew Robert only had minutes left in him and I needed to make sure he’d be looked after. He was just a baby.

And then I stopped pacing.

Robert let out one last breath and I felt his heart stop beating close to mine. His eyelids no longer flickered as he dreamed and I felt his arms go limp against my chest. The weight in my arms suddenly felt heavy.

My son was gone.

“I love you so much,” I whispered into his ear, only now realizing I hadn’t yet said it. “Goodbye Robert, my angel, my son.”

I started walking around the bed again, only slower this time. The lifeless body in my arms seeming heavier by the second, like an unbearable weight I was carrying around with me, and yet somehow, I just couldn’t let go. I looked down at the baby in my arms; he looked as if he could be sleeping, he looked so peaceful.

I don’t know how long I kept walking with him, it could have been hours for all I knew. I was only vaguely aware of the nurse coming in and out every so often. She never said anything to me. She just looked. I wondered what she could be seeing, how she would view the situation. How must I look to her? I was a woman walking around the hospital, cradling my dead child in my arms.

But still, I wasn’t crying.

After a while of walking I was suddenly hit by the sound of a newborn’s cry pricking the air. Expectantly, I looked down at my son, already knowing the cry hadn’t come from him, and then I screamed and the tears finally fell.

My baby was gone; he was never coming back to me now. My whole reason for carrying on after losing Johnathon. Robert was gone. Johnathon was gone.

And I was more alone and more hurt than ever.

Esme

 

 

(A/N – Please note that this entry was not entirely written by myself. As you are aware, I have been re-writing all my entries before posting on here. However, I felt this entry was as close to perfect as it could get and I couldn’t find anyway to better it. So the majority of the credit for writing this entry must go to Susan).

November

30th

(Esme’s Diary) Chapter 17: Unwell

Dear Diary,

Having Robert in my life helps to take away the pain of losing Johnathon, and although Robert will ever replace his father he reminds me of him every day. My Son – wow, I never tire of saying that – is the most amazing little human being I have met, even with this awful cough he’s developed he is still the light of my life.

I’d always expected to be up all night and day with a baby that didn’t sleep. All of Evie’s children had kept her awake all night crying for milk, and rarely slept during the day. But no, not my little soldier, he only woke once at night. I’d give him a feed at about ten thirty or eleven p.m. and then he’d wake again between three and three-thirty a.m.,  have his feed while he is still half asleep,  then go straight back to sleep until the morning.

He is truly a delight to be around. I found myself wanting to stay awake to watch him sleep, but I knew I must rest too.

Nothing completes me more than being with my precious little boy. Robert gripped my finger this morning, it was ever so light but you could feel that there was some pressure there.

Robert’s cough seemed to be getting worse, his whole body is shook as he hacked. I’m no doctor, but it sounded like he had some mucus that he was trying to heave out. Even when he simply breathed you could hear it bubbling inside him. Part of me said take him back to the hospital and get him checked out. But the other part told me to stop being so silly. It was just a cough. The nurses told me it would clear up.

I wished Evie was here. She’d know what to do. I felt so helpless, every part of my body was yearning to take his cough away; I would suffer it myself, and be glad. Just to know he was well.

“Shhhh, my sweet little soldier,” I murmured to Robert as I cradled him in my arms during another coughing episode. This one seemed worse than the others, his face had gone bright red through the exhaustion of coughing and no matter how hard he coughed it just didn’t see’ to clear.

I tried holding him over my shoulder and patting his back to help him, as I had seen Evie do on so many occasions, but it still didn’t seem to help. Surely all this coughing wasn’t doing him any good, this was upsetting me so much I was close to tears, all I wanted was for Robert to be better. Then, as if to answer my question, he  vomited over my shoulder. My heart wanted to literally break for him. As I cleaned him up I started phoning the local doctor; I wasn’t going to just sit by and watch my one reason for living suffer so horribly.

After speaking to doctor, who assured me he was on his way, I began to doubt myself. What if they think I’m not looking after him well enough. Will they blame me for this? They can’t. They just can’t. I love Robert more than life itself.

As I write the tears are flowing down my face in thick streams. I just don’t know what to do! I want my little man to be well so that I can start enjoying spending my time with him and not have to worry about his health so much.

I was watching Robert in his cot, the doctor was due here any moment. The sickness that I am feeling runs right from the bottom of my stomach. I am so scared. Words cannot describe how I feel. I know something is wrong, I just wish with all my heart and soul that I could take it away from my little man.

Looking up I heard the knock at the door. That meant one thing: the doctor was here. As much as I wanted him here, I was petrified at the same time. Taking a deep breath I nervously headed to the door to let him in.

“Good evening Doctor. Please, come in,” I said, opening the door and ushering him into my tiny kitchen.

“Good Evening Mrs. Walker, I’m Doctor Ingham-Clark. Why don’t we start by you telling me what’s wrong?” The doctor smiled at me sympathetically.

Taking a deep breath I told Doctor Ingham-Clark about Robert’s cough, how he’d been struggling to breathe, how his lips had started turning blue occasionally. Once I’d finished he asked to look at Robert.

“Of course,” I agreed instantly, rushing from the kitchen into our communal living room and bedroom. I smiled slightly at my little boy as I gently picked him up from his cot and laid him on the bed, ready for the doctor to look him over.

“Hello there, little man,” the doctor greeted as he leaned over my sick son. “Let’s take a look at you shall we?”

I winced as the doctor placed his stethoscope on Robert’s chest, the coolness of it startled him and he let out a soft whimper. I rushed to his side and sat on the bed, rubbing his little hand in mine to comfort him.

“What do you think it is doctor?” I asked after a few heart wrenching minutes. I honestly thought my chest was going to explode with the speed of my heart rate.

I caught a brief glance of the doctor’s face and it wasn’t looking good. What was wrong with my baby? Surely a cough couldn’t lead to him looking like that?

“I can’t be sure,” he sighed. “I think it would be safer if we got him to the hospital, just to be on the safe side.”

“The- The hospital?” I choked. “Is it that serious?”

“Like I said, I can’t be sure. But I think he has an infection in his lungs.”

I felt the sobs beginning in my chest; they slowly crept up and eventually left my mouth. I picked Robert up from the bed and ran around frantically throwing some of his things in a bag for him. I didn’t know what he would need so I grabbed everything I could think of: Diapers, clothes, blankets, pacifiers.

When I got to the hospital with him I was taken to a children’s ward, the nurse assessed him and she too had the same grave face the doctor had had earlier this evening.

I am now waiting for the doctor to come and see him.

Please let my baby live.

I will write again soon.

Esme. x

November

3rd

Esme’s Diary (Chapter 16 – New Arrival)

Dear Diary,

I am now the very proud mother of a beautiful baby boy. Words cannot begin to explain how much this little man has made me feel. Although I shall always miss my Johnathon, I now have a piece of him that will belong to me forever. The emptiness I have been feeling up until now has all but vanished. I hope and pray that my little man will grow up to be the kind, caring, loving young man his father was.

Naming our baby was so difficult, it reminded me of the times Johnathon and I should have spent together coming up with names, arguing over the ones I liked that he didn’t, and vice versa. I wanted his name to be perfect, something that we would both like. Unfortunately Charles had stripped us of the opportunity of ever discussing these things. I finally decided on:

Robert Johnathon Walker.

Tears streamed down my face as the midwife handed me my baby in the hospital. He is the most precious and beautiful gift I have ever been blessed with. The labour was very difficult and beyond painful. It felt as though my insides were being pulled out. But now, holding Robert in my arms it was worth all the pain. He has Johnathon’s lips, nose and a good strong little chin. He also has a small mass of dark hair on his head. He is absolutely perfect!

I have never felt such a rush of love towards someone in my life. Words fail me! There are none to explain just how much I love him. He is everything I could have ever wished for and more and, although the wound in my heart from losing Johnathon will never be healed completely, it is now filled with the love for another human being.

Robert, my blessing from above.

Robert is now two days old and I have been allowed to bring him home. My days are filled with all things Robert. I have no desire to spend a single moment away from him. I sit next to his crib during the day watching him as he sleeps in front of the fire. I’m making him a blanket at the moment.

With every little milestone he reaches my heart bursts with pride. The day he opened his eyes for the first time I cried and cried, thanking the Lord and Johnathon for this precious gift. The love that one person can feel for something so little is amazing. Every ounce of my body yearns to be near him. The pain of the labour has completely disappeared, but I would go through it all again tomorrow. The end result is the most amazing thing in the world.

I was sat cradling Robert in my arms this afternoon whilst he fed off of my breast. I had one finger placed gently in his palm and all of a sudden he gripped my finger. My little man is so strong. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly he is growing and learning.

He seems to become more active when I am with him. The nurses say that he recognizes my scent and voice. The poor little mite has a slight cough at the moment, but the doctors said that it may just be his lungs adjusting to being outside the womb – or that maybe he is clearing some liquid that he swallowed during labour. Either way, they have assured me I have nothing to worry about. Which is reassuring. But still, with every cough that racks his body I just want to scream for him to get better. I would happily have the cough instead of my beautiful little baby.

The first night after he was born I sat cradling him while he slept. The nurses were telling me I should put him down to sleep – to get him into a routine, but I couldn’t. I was too amazed by him. His face, his eyes, his nose, his fingers. There was so much to take in, how is it possible that someone so perfect could come from such a tragic situation? I was sure I had been dreaming for a while. Until he woke up and started crying for his dinner of course.

Robert’s cry stood out to me in the hospital more than any other baby’s did. You could have placed me in a room with a thousand crying babies’ and I would have been able to pick out my sons. I wonder if all mothers feel the same.

This is all so new to me but I am learning fast. I seem to know already what it is he wants when he cries, whether it’s his dinner, a change of diaper, or just a cuddle. It is as if I am attuned to his every need, which I guess in a way I am. I have carried him for 9 months.

I brought him home today and introduced him to his new crib. It is quite frightening being away from the hospital without the doctors and nurses there for support but they have assured me that other than his cough he is in perfect health and that the best place for him to be is at home.

Being with Robert has made me do a lot of thinking, and I am really missing my mom and Evie. It is times like this that we need other mothers around to help and guide us with things. The hospital staff showed me how to change him, bathe him, feed him and that stuff. But it’s the other things that you need help with. Like getting the balance between Robert and having “me” time. The doctors say that when he is sleeping I should be sleeping too. And that was fine – when we were at the hospital and you have your meals prepared for you and don’t have any housework to do. But now that we are home and it’s just the two of us, how am I meant to get all the day to day things done?

Mom would know.

Evie would know.

Maybe tomorrow I will write to them. They don’t have to know where I am living, but I could at least let my mom know that she has a beautiful grandson and we are both doing Okay. She would want to know.

Wouldn’t she?

Of course she would. And if I don’t give her an address, even if Charles found out where we were then he wouldn’t know where to begin looking for me.

And even if he did, he wouldn’t have much luck. Since moving here I have taken on the name Esme Walker. It only seemed right for me to take on Johnathon’s name. And Charles would be looking for Esme Evenson or Esme Platt.

Those people don’t exist to me anymore.

Robert just made the cutest sound in his sleep. It was a cross between a gurgle and a rasp and his little arm stretched and flopped back down onto the mattress before his breathing stabilized again.

I cannot get enough of watching my son. I feel like I have to soak up every bit of him.

Love Esme

November

2nd

Esme’s Diary (Chapter 15 – A New Start)

Dear diary,

Although in my head it feels like time has stood still, it has in fact been 231 days since I last wrote in here. I have felt like the walking dead all this time, so alone that I didn’t want to continually write the same mundane, depressing words. Just writing about him causes the pain the resurface a like hot poker stabbing me through the heart. Despite everyone’s words, the pain has not gotten easier; if anything it has become worse. Our baby is due any day now and all I can think is that it will never meet its daddy.

Some days I get so angry with Johnathon for leaving me, for going back into the house to get that stupid ring. What use is a ring when I’ve lost him? That ring cost my love his life. I haven’t been able to look at that ring since his parents’ gave it to me.

With the birth of our baby imminent I have decided to write Johnathon a letter. I feel now that it is time to let go of my pain, I know it won’t be as easy as that, but I have to try relieve myself from this pain for the sake of my baby.


My Dearest Johnathon,

I feel I need to write this letter to you so that I can tell you some things and to hopefully erase some of this pain that has been eating away at me. I miss you so much my love, every day I hope and pray that I could see you for just one more minute, have you wrap your arms around me.

Why Johnathon? Why did you go back into that house? Why didn’t you follow me? Don’t you realize how much I need you? How much our baby needs you? Now I’m completely alone in this world.

Waking in the morning is the worst part of the day for me. For just a split second every morning I believe that you are still here. I turn over looking to drape my arm over you and cuddle up – but I always end up touching a cold, empty side of the bed. My whole body yearns for you every second of every day.

You have missed so much my love, the first time our baby kicked, talking to it, watching my belly grow to the size of a house. It’s quite extraordinary now, when it moves, it’s like my stomach is a tidal wave, rippling from one side to the other. I so desperately wish you were here to share this with me.

Without you I feel incomplete, the part of me that could smile has gone. The smallest things feel like a huge task. But I do them. I have to, for our baby.

There’s something I need to tell you, I know how the fire started and I know why it was started. But I guess you already know that now don’t you? Charles started the fire, he started it because your mom told him about us having a baby, he vowed revenge on us and you paid with your life. I’m so so sorry that you got involved in all this my love. If I had just been able to resist you and done the right thing then you would still be alive. That is something I will have to live with for the rest of my life.

Our baby is due any day now. I cannot wait to meet him or her.

I’m so scared my darling, what if it looks like you?

Of course, I love this baby unconditionally. But I am terrified, not of the labor – although I am sure that will be painful – but what if it has your eyes, nose, and lips? How will I be able to look at it every day?

I just don’t know.

Wouldn’t that make the pain so much worse, because of the constant reminder, or would it help? Help knowing that even though I cannot have you with me, a part of you would still be living on indefinitely in our child.

It would be even worse, I imagine, if the baby bore no resemblance of you at all. That would shatter me. Because then you’d be gone. It would almost be as if you never existed. I couldn’t bear that. No matter how hard I try to prepare myself for either outcome, I know either way it will be hard.

I’m settled somewhere new now. Well, as settled as I can be anyway. I have been doing some work as a teacher at the local school here. It doesn’t pay well, and as you can imagine, it was a struggle trying to find any work as a pregnant widow. I have told everyone that my husband died in the war. It’s not exactly truthful but there was a war between us and Charles. The principal is a very nice man, he is eager for me to leave work as the birth approaches, but I simply can’t afford to do so.

I have a small apartment near the school; it’s not a large place at all. But it will suffice.  It has a tiny kitchen with nice size living room. Obviously I don’t have a lot of furniture, but I have managed to place a dining room table in the living room, too. I have managed to salvage a small crib from a skip. It looks really nice now that I have touched it up with some paint. I wish things were different, and that this wasn’t how things were. But with little money and no support it is the best I can manage. I am determined to make things right for our baby. It’s true, our child will always be faltered by not having you around. But the least I can do is be the best mother imaginable.

And I will be.

The day you left this life, my whole world came crumbling down. But slowly, piece by piece, I am starting to rebuild the structure that is me again. Not a day will go by in my life where I won’t miss you, think of you, love you or need you. Every time I look at our child I will be full of sorrow, that it didn’t get the chance to meet you, and get to know you for the wonderful person you were. That’s one thing I can never give her. But I have my memories; they are starting to come back to me now. It was blurry for a while.

As for my heart, I am certain that will never heal again. Not until the blissful day when I can reunited with you again. And if it were not for our baby, I would be with you now. Where we could be together for forever.

Together forever, just you and I.

Our love cannot be broken, not by time, distance or even death. I realize that now.

This is not goodbye, this is farewell. For I will be with you again one day of that I am sure.

I love you Johnathon,

Always have, always will.

Love forever,

Your Esme

x x x

As the tears streamed down my face, they stained the pages, blurring the words that bared my soul.

Walking over to the small fireplace – that provided my only source of heat – I placed the letter into the flames, watching as they rapidly engulfed my letter. The same way they would have engulfed his body.

Crumpling to the floor, as sobs racked my body, I watched as my letter turned to ash. Just like that, everything I had felt was gone. The sobs were now shaking my body, and I wrapped my hand protectively over my nearly ready bump, as if by doing so I was protecting it from the pain I was feeling.

“Goodbye,” I cried as the last piece of my letter was taken over by the flames.

I cried out as a different kind of pain spread over my stomach, the intensity of it completely taking my breath away. Just as quickly as it came, it went again, allowing me to catch my breath.

Standing up, I felt the urge to use the bathroom, but before I could make it a trickle of water started seeping down my leg, which then became a gush.

As another pain ripped through my stomach I had the hold onto the chair for support. I think our baby is ready to make its arrival.

Esme xx

October

17th

Esme’s Diary (Flames)

Dear Diary,

People always say that two wrongs don’t make a right, but on this occasion I think I would have to disagree.

Charles definitely deserved a taste of his own medicine; he deserved to know what it felt like to be humiliated. What he had made me endure for the last three years was nothing short of repulsive. I had always known, in my heart, that Charles wouldn’t allow us to get away with humiliating him like that so easily. We will still have to leave – leave everyone that we know and love in order to save this life growing inside me.

How am I going to tell Johnathon? I wondered to myself as I sat downstairs watching the sun rise. The nerves of telling him – and the constant urge to use the bathroom – causing my insomnia. What if he thought I was trapping him in to staying with me? What if he didn’t want children yet?

STOP IT,  I told myself angrily.

Johnathon was nothing like Charles, he would be happy, no thrilled, about our little surprise.

Before I could change my mind I marched back upstairs with a fresh cup of tea in my hands for Johnathon. I would tell him now, no backing out.

“Johnathon? Wake up my love.” I placed the cup on the bedside table as I sat down on the edge of the bed.

“Mmmm?” he mumbled, still asleep, wrapping his arms around me and pulling me into a tight embrace. “Come back to bed,” he grumbled, his eyes still firmly shut.

“No darling, I have to talk to you.” As I said the words I knew I could no longer back out of telling him. My jitters intensified. The feeling of nausea took over my body. I scrambled out of Johnathon’s embrace and rushed to the toilet, reaching it just in time.

“Damn Damn Damn,” I muttered to myself as I blotted my mouth with a washcloth and began to brush my teeth. I couldn’t bear to look at Johnathon as he looked into the bathroom, his eyes wide with worry.

“Esme?” he asked, the concern in his sleepy voice instantly evident. “What’s wrong?”

Johnathon couldn’t see the smile that was forming as I brushed my teeth. Men I thought to myself. They really are oblivious. I placed my toothbrush back in the holder, then turned to face Johnathon and took a large breath.

“Maybe we should go and sit down?” I said taking Johnathon’s hand. I pulled him softly back to the bedroom. Nervously I sat on the end of the bed, unable to make eye contact.

“Esme, are you okay? Is there anything I can do?” Johnathon asked again nervously.

I smiled at him. “Johnathon, I’m fine. In fact I am more than fine.”

Johnathon just stared at me waiting for answers. “Your scaring me now Esme.”

“Johnathon, I don’t know if there is a right way or wrong way of saying this so I’m just going to come straight out with it.” I inhaled a deep breath. “Johnathon, I’m Pregnant.”

I watched nervously at his reaction – he didn’t move for sixty-five seconds. I know this because I counted, every single second. Slowly a smile crept over his lips. As it grew bigger – spreading across his face – I let out the breath I didn’t realise I had been holding.

“What? I – I mean… are you?” he choked, tears starting to well in his eyes. I took a deep breath and smiled wildly, then nodded.

“Esme, this is wonderful!” he cried, leaping towards me and pulling me up into his arms before spinning me around the room. “But when did you…?” he asked, happy tears now flowing freely down his face as he set me gently back down on the floor.

“A few days before Charles got home,” I replied.

“Why didn’t you tell me my love?”

“I wanted to be sure that our plan with Charles would work, and I thought that if I told you then maybe – just maybe – you would have done something you would regret. And also, I knew you wouldn’t let me be alone with him. We needed the plan to work, so now we can finally be together.”

My love couldn’t stop grinning at me; like a child that had just been allowed to buy whatever they wanted from a candy store.

“Are you really happy?” I asked.

“Esme my darling, I have never been so happy,” he answered through a wide smile, wrapping me up in his arms once more.

Our first moment as a family.

Things have been magical since I told Johnathon about our little bundle of joy. As usual we spend as much time together as we possibly can. Everything has been perfect, but it cannot stay like this. We have to leave before it becomes too obvious that I am carrying another man’s child.

Johnathon and I still have to leave, to protect our baby. We are leaving in two days and we aren’t quite sure where we’re going, but initially we are going to stay with some family north of here before moving on and finding a place of our own.

Leaving my family and friends would be extremely painful; I would miss them all so much. But first I had to get through a small dinner at my parents house; mom didn’t want us to leave without having a farewell dinner.

Dinner went well. The evening was filled with laughter and good times, the perfect way to remember our friends and family. Johnathon and I decided to leave at about ten-thirty.

Saying goodbye to everyone was hard, the lump that had now formed in my throat was threatening to grow larger and cause me to choke. I had to hold the tears back. Nobody knew that this was a farewell party; the only people that knew were my Mom and Evie. Everyone else just thought it was a normal dinner party.

“Thanks Mom,” I said, holding onto her tightly. “I really appreciate it.”

I didn’t even realise I was crying until we were almost home, the usually short two minute walk seemed to take forever.

“Esme love, don’t cry,” Johnathon soothed, wiping the flowing tears from my face.

“I’m sorry. This is all my fault. If I had just done the right thing and stayed with Charles then none of this would be happening. We wouldn’t be leaving our families to run away and live a lie.” I choked the words out, unable to contain my guilt any longer.

“Do not apologise for anything Esme. Staying with that monster was never an option. I would never have allowed it. You are my world, you both are,” he reassured, softly placing his hand on my stomach.

“But I-” I choked.

“Have done nothing wrong” he finished calmly, as I fumbled with the keys to the front door.

Johnathon took the keys out of my hand and opened the front door. Silently I walked through the door and sat at the kitchen table, placing my head in my hands.

“But you’ve got to leave your family now, because of me. You’ll never see you parents again. What will your parents think? How will they take it? Losing their only son and not knowing why? Never knowing their Grandchild…” Johnathon placed a finger over my lips to silence me then pulled me into his arms.

“Shhhhh my darling. You have done absolutely nothing wrong. All you did was stand up to an abusive husband and fall in love. And as for my family, you are my family now. We are a family. In a few months when things have settled down and we have found a home, we can get word to them and then they can come visit.”

Johnathon made everything sound easy, it truly was amazing how simple it was for him to reassure me. To soothe me.

“Oh Johnathon, I love you with all my heart. You always know how to reassure me. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without you in my life. I’m ready to leave now,” I told him, the tears finally ceasing to fall from my eyes.

“Okay my love, whenever you’re ready. Now come on you, up to bed. You have to get plenty of rest now,” he said with a smile, wrapping his arms briefly around my waist and caressing my stomach lightly.

We walked up stairs together holding hands. We wandered into the bedroom then changed into our pajamas and got in bed together. Laying my head on the pillow, I sighed with happiness. Out of nowhere, Johnathon pushed all the bed covers off of us, lifted up my nightgown and started talking to my stomach.

“Hello? Can you hear me baby? I’m your Daddy. I promise to look after you and your Mommy, always. I love you both so much and I cannot wait to meet you.”

After he’d said what he wanted, he pulled the covers back up and pulled me into him. Not a word was mentioned about what he’d just done.

“I love you too, Esme. Sleep well.”

“I love you too Johnathon.” I snuggled into his shoulder then drifted off into a peaceful sleep.

♦♦♦

“ESME! Esme, wake up dammit!” Johnathon was screaming at me. I eventually woke to find the room filled with smoke, flames licking the bedroom door. A few seconds passed before my brain registered what was happening.

I started coughing and screaming at the same time. “Johnathon? What are we going to do?” I cried at him, desperately searching for an exit route. Hours seemed to pass, smoke was rapidly filling the room now, there was no way we could go through the door.

“Esme? Johnathon?” Someone called. Johnathon ran to the window and looked outside. We were both coughing uncontrollably now, the smoke was so intense.

“We’re going to die,” I cried.

“NO! No we’re not!” Johnathon shouted at me, clearly as scared as I was. “We’re up here!” he shouted to whoever was outside. “We can’t get out. The flames are outside our door!”

I ran to the window, trying desperately but unsuccessfully to get some fresh air into my lungs. I could see my parents, Johnathon’s Parents and some neighbours outside. One of the neighbours ran off back to their house.

“We’re going to get a sheet, then you will have to jump!” Someone screamed from outside.

Jump?

Are they crazy?

I’m not jumping out of a window.

Johnathon must have read my mind. “Esme, you’re going to have to jump. Think of our baby. If you don’t jump, we’ll die.”

He had a point. I had to think of our baby. We had to survive this so that we could be a family.

“Okay, we have the sheet ready!”

“Esme, my love, you have got to Jump. Please, I am begging you, for me, for our baby. JUMP!” Johnathon pleaded with me.

Nerves were coursing through my veins as I climbed onto the window ledge. I couldn’t breathe; the smoke was filling my lungs causing me to choke. I was so scared.
“Johnathon, I love you so much. PROMISE me you will jump as soon as I’m clear”
“I promise my love. You’re not getting rid of me that easily” He said with a half-smile.
I pulled him into me kissing him with as much passion as I could muster.

Johnathon pulled away and half pushed me out the window.
I screamed as I fell, seconds seemed to turn into minutes. I’m going to die, I’m going to die. I closed my eyes and waited for death to take me. Then I hit something soft, the sheet. It broke my landing, I still landed with a thud but I was alive.
Someone pulled me off the sheet and pulled me into an embrace.
“Esme, my darling, it’s OK, you’re OK now.” It’s was my mother. She was crying. She wrapped another sheet around me and ran back to the sheet they had used to catch me, ready to catch Johnathon.

I looked up at our window and saw Johnathon smiling down at me. He mouthed I love you to me.

“JOHNATHON GET OUT, NOW!” I screamed at him.

“I’VE JUST GOT TO GET SOMETHING!” he shouted down at me, turning his back to the window and running back into the bedroom.

“JOHNATHON!” I screamed at the top of my voice, tears flowing freely down my cheeks again. “JOHNATHON!” I screamed again. “NOOOO!” I got up and started to run towards to the house then I stopped, I was being pulled back by someone.

Johnathon reappeared at the window as quickly as he had disappeared. He was coughing hard. He reached out putting his hands on the window sill. He was holding something in his hand.

“JUMP JOHNATHON” I screamed at him. As I screamed at him to jump there was a loud bang and Johnathon disappeared from sight.

“NOOOOOO!” I screamed again, causing myself to cough. I got up and tried running towards the house only to be held back again.

“SOMEONE PLEASE HELP HIM!” I screamed my eyes searching the fireball that was my home for any sign that Johnathon had found a way out. I begged Johnathon’s Father and my Father to go and help him. They tried, they tried to get in, through anyway they could, but they were being pushed back by the flames that had now engulfed the whole house.

Another bang engulfed the area echoing all around us and then the unthinkable happened. The whole of the upper floor collapsed to the ground.

The arms were still holding me back. I screamed at the top of my voice, kicking and thrashing about, trying to break free of the grip around me so that I could try and get to Johnathon, my wonderful Johnathon.

Then I blacked out, or so my Mother told me.

I woke up at my parents’ house in my old bedroom. My throat felt like someone had attacked it with sand paper.

“Mom?” I called out, my voice barely there.

I could hear mom rushing into the room.

“Esme, darling, are you okay?” Mom asked, her voice smothered in concern.

“Mom, I’m fine. Where’s Johnathon?” I asked, trying to get off the bed.

“Esme, lay back down, you need to think of your baby. Now come on get some rest.”

“Mom?” I asked, wondering why she wouldn’t tell me where Johnathon was. I had to believe he made it out, how could he not have?

“Where’s Johnathon?” I asked again.

Mom took a deep breathe, held my hand and said very quietly, “He didn’t make it, Esme. I am so sorry.”

Esme

August

6th

Esme’s Diary (Chapter 12: Revenge

Dear Diary,

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

June

6th

Esme’s Diary (Chapter 10–Dinner Party)

The hours ticked by slowly as I lay in bed listening to Charles snoring loudly beside me. The sun was slowly beginning it’s climb into the sky, brightening the darkness that had engulfed us for the past ten hours.

I had been engulfed into this abyss the moment Charles had returned, my only savior was the stolen moments I spent with Johnathon.

With this new day came hope, hope that Charles would shortly be returning to the war and that Johntathon and I would be left to live our lives together, albeit secretly.

I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t stop thinking about my Johnathon, the way he held me, the softness he used with every touch, the tenderness of every kiss, his soft lips barely kissing the corner of my mouth before he gently rested his lips on mine. I couldn’t help thinking about the way in which time stood still whilst we were together; it were as though nothing else mattered.

Sleep had evaded me for so long now that there really wasn’t much point in laying there lazily, I may as well have gotten up and had some time to myself to get some things done.

As I climbed out of bed I stood at the bedroom window and five gloriously–silent minutes passed as I allowed my mind to swallow me into the dream that I wished were true, that the man lying in the bed asleep behind me was in fact Johnathon. That Charles was no longer a threat to us and that I didn’t have to live in secrecy anymore. That we could live our lives together forever, to have a family together.

I jumped out of my trance as I heard Charles turn over in his sleep, luckily he hadn’t caught me standing there doing nothing, he would have been furious. With a heavy sigh I walked away from the window – and my fantasy of a better life.

“One day.” I promised myself as I walked downstairs to cook Charles’ breakfast.

Six days, only six more days he would leave again, I thought to myself happily as I finished cooking his breakfast. I braced myself as I heard him moving around upstairs. Ten more minutes passed before I heard him making his way down the stairs. I placed his breakfast on the table as he walked into the kitchen.

“Be ready at 6pm sharp,” he ordered, already pulling on his outdoor coat.

Foolishly I dared to ask where he was going.

“OUT! Not that it’s any of your business,” he spat at me. He pulled the door open and walked out without a backward glance. I jumped as the door slammed shut.

Sitting down at the cooked breakfast left untouched on the table, I allowed my mind to wander back to Johnathon’s note, particularly the last sentence: “I will see you tonight.”

How could he be certain that we would see each other tonight. He had silenced me with a kiss before I had been given the chance to tell him of my parents dinner tonight. I had to attend that and I doubted there would be an opportunity to escape long enough to see him.

Putting the note to the back of my mind I decided to get on with my chores, I had to clean the entire house before getting ready for the dinner that evening. I had to make sure I was ready in plenty of time in case Charles returned early.

As I went to collect the cleaning equipment, I noticed some of my vegetables were ready for picking. Pulling on my garden boots I went outside to pick them before the insects got to them. I enjoyed gardening, enjoyed growing my own vegetables; the satisfaction was exceptional when you later sat down to a nice meal cooked with all your own vegetables.

After I’d finished in the garden I began working on the house, washing dishes from breakfast, beating the rugs, cleaning everything meticulously.

Glancing at the grandfather clock on the upstairs landing I noticed that time had flown by today and I only had little over an hour left to get ready.

There goes my long relaxing bath, I thought to myself, rushing upstairs to get myself washed and dressed as quickly as possible. After my wash I sat down at my dressing table, pulling my hair back into a low bun at the nape of me neck whilst leaving a few loose curls framing my face.

I swirled some rouge on my cheeks, a faint brown color on my eyelids and some mascara before walking to my wardrobe to find a dress. Fumbling through my dresses I stumbled across one I had nearly forgotten about, hidden at the back. I pulled it out and placed it lovingly on my bed, admiring the beautiful black floor length lace–over dress that covered the emerald green satin dress underneath it. It was, without a doubt, the most extravagant piece of clothing in my possession.

The dress was a gift, from Johnathon. I had been extremely worried about Charles finding out about me having such an extravagant item of clothing, but we had covered that angle quite nicely I thought. On a rare occasions that I didn’t see Johnathon in the evening I would go to Evie’s house and spend some time with her. While I told her about my predicament over a cup of tea she came up with the perfect plan. We would tell Charles that Evie had given it to me as a gift, as she couldn’t fit into it anymore since having the children.

Evie’s parents were quite wealthy and often treated her to beautiful dresses as a young woman, before the children had arrived and they then spent their money spoiling their grandchildren. The dress Johnathon had given me was very similar to one that Evie’s parents had given her.

Simple.

Stepping into the dress I pulled it up, pushing my arms into the elbow–length sleeves. I loved the feel of the satin on my body. I carefully pulled the lace over dress over my head, and slipped on the matching shoes.

Once I’d finished dressing I slowly walked downstairs, pulled on my overcoat and sat at the kitchen table awaiting Charles’ return.

I didn’t have to wait to long.

After walking through the door he quickly rushed upstairs to change into his uniform.

Once we arrived at my parents house Charles ushered me through the front door and over to where my parents stood.

“Hi Mom, Dad,” I said. Charles mumbled his greeting, being his usual anti-social self. I stayed with my mom while Charles wandered off to find some people he has been serving with.

“Come with me Esme,” my mother said, passing me a glass of champagne and grabbing my other hand to pull me into the large formal lounge. All the furniture had been removed to make room for the dancefloor.

“I want to introduce you to our new neighbours. Esme, this is Mr. & Mrs. Walker, they have just moved in next door with their Son.”

“Good Evening Mr. & Mrs. Walker. It’s a pleasure to meet you,” I greeted them, trying to be polite but really just wanting to get away from them. They seemed nice enough, but I knew I had to go and stand near Charles – otherwise he would lose his temper. I was his possession, his property, and he expected me to behave like that at public events.

“I’m so sorry you’ll have to excuse me,” I said softly, rushing to Charles’ side. He turned and scowled at me, then without saying another word he turned his back to me and continued talking to his friends. I stood there amoungst a crowd of people feeling more alone than ever.

During dinner I sat next to Charles and Mr. Walker. He reminded me so much of someone but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. He had black hair that had grey hairs running through it, sort of like salt and pepper. He had dark brown eyes and a strong jawline.

“Have you unpacked everything now Mr. Walker?” I asked, trying to make up for my rudeness earlier. Charles was engrossed in talking to a female next to him. He was being particularly charming. It was obvious what he wanted.

“Yes, thank you Esme. I was hoping my son would be here. I think you would have liked him,” Mr. Walker replied with a genuine smile.

“Where is he?” I asked. I had known that Mr. Walker’s son was meant to be there, but my mother told me he hadn’t turned up.

“I don’t actually know where he is. We think he is seeing someone, but all he mentioned was that he had to meet someone, he said he had promised.” Mr. Walker turned to face me, a look of sorrow filling his eyes. “I’m sorry to burdon you with our family issues, I don’t know what came over me, I just felt so comfortable talking to you.”

“It’s not a problem at all Mr. Walker.”

The dinner was going really well, then we moved into the large lounge room – which was converted into a dancing area. I managed to endure the obligatory dance with Charles. It wasn’t a pleasurable experiance, although he took great pleasure in squeezing my hands a little too tight, smiling as I winced in pain. I tried not to look at him, I didn’t want him to see my pain or the tears that were starting to form. I looked down, pretending that I was trying not to stand on his toes.

“Excuse me, do you mind if I cut in?” A voice asked. I recognised the voice.

I looked up startled. I couldn’t believe it. There he stood in front of me, looking more handsome than ever.

Johnathon. My Johnathon.

“Sure, go ahead, if you don’t mind losing a few toes,” Charles sniggered.

Johnathon took me in his arms and twirled me around the dance floor effortlessly. I couldn’t believe it, what was he doing here.

“Johnathon, I… What… Urm… Charles?”

“Esme, my love,” he whispered, looking down at me. “My surname is Walker, I believe you met my father at dinner.”

I gasped silently. All the pieces were finally fitting into place. His parents had just moved next door. I was the person his parents thought he was seeing. Oh dear, this could get very difficult.

“Esme, please breathe. Nothing will ever jeopardize what we have, you mean too much to me. Yes my parents have moved in next door, but they don’t know anything. And as for Charles, I have a good mind to take him outside and give him a few home truths.”

I gasped again in horror. “Johnathon, please. You can’t.” It was more of a plead than a demand.

“Don’t worry Esme, I promised you I wouldn’t jeopardize anything between us.”

Johnathon continued to twirl me ’round the dancefloor, and I almost didn’t realize he was slowly spinning me towards the back door.

“Come with me. I want to talk to you,” he whispered.

“I can’t. Charles will wonder where I am.”

“I’m sorry to say my love, but Charles left about three minutes after I cut in. He left with the girl who sat next to him at dinner.”

Oh. Well that was a first, I thought. He’d never been so obvious before. “How did you know he sat next to her at dinner?” I asked, curious.

“Well, a friend is also here tonight and he happened to comment on the fact that Charles was paying a lot more attention to a girl who was sitting next to him rather than his wife – who was sitting next to my dad. And then my dad pointed out that he had been sitting next to you as well. So I just put two and two together.”

“Ok, let’s just go… before I change my mind.”

Johnathon led me to the back door and we walked outside into the cool evening air. He took hold of my hand and walked me across the lawn. We stood on the lawn for a little while, gazing up into the sky, looking at the stars with only the moonlight to light our path. We walked to our tree, hand in hand. We didn’t say a word until we got there, scared that someone might here us in the silence of the night.

“Esme,” Johnathon murmured. “I am so in love with you it hurts. You are the most beautiful person I have ever met. Tonight, when I saw you dancing with Charles, I was so jealous and angry I just wanted to walk over and punch him for everything he has done to you. But at the same time I wanted to take you away from him and keep you with me forever and protect you. You look so beautiful tonight. You take my breathe away.”

And with that he gently pushed me against the trunk of our tree, taking my face in both of his hands and gently kissing me. I’d never felt so much passion in a kiss, not even Johnathon’s kisses had been the passionate before.

He gently pulled away and we sat down. Johnathon leaned against the tree trunk while I laid against his chest, listening the beat of his heart.

“It’s such a beautiful night tonight,” I breathed.

Johnathon agreed. “I think so too.”

Johnathon moved, gently laying me down. He moved so he was laying half on top of me and half on the ground, leaning on his elbow.

“Esme, I love you so much. I cannot bare to see how that man treats you. I want to be with you, forever. Esme…. run away with me….”

Love Esme xx

Here are two pictures of the black floor length lace–over dress that covered the emerald green satin dress I wore underneath it. (Pics show the front and back):

May

31st

(Esme’s Diary) Chapter 9: Panic Attack

Dear Diary,

It seems like it has been forever since I last wrote in here… But in truth, it has only been about 4 weeks. Johnathon and I see each other everyday. I spend the mornings at my parents farm and then the afternoons with my love. Occasionally I feel guilty, but then I remember what Evie said about deserving to find happiness.

There is one thing that I know for certain. Either Johnathon and I will have to go our seperate ways when Charles gets back, or we will have to run away together. I’m not sure which will happen but I do know that Charles will kill both of us if he ever found out that we were having a relationship behind his back. Anyway let me tell you about today.

I was working in the front garden of my parents house when my mother called me. “Esme dear,” she said,

“Yes mother?” I replied, wondering what she wanted this time as I walked into the kitchen. She’d be calling me every 5 minutes – obviously wanting to say something but knowing how to say it.

“Have you been told the sevice men are coming home on a weeks leave soon?” My mother asked, twisting her apron around in her fingers. She was obviously nervous about my reaction.

I really didn’t know what to do.

My heart started beating so fast and a nervous feeling overcame me, it was like I had hundreds of butterflies fluttering around my stomach. A lump rising to my throat. I honestly thought I would be sick. What was I going to do about Johnathon? I never, for one second, imagined Charles to come back so soon.

I had hoped he would never come back.

I had to talk to Johnathon, we were due to meet under our tree after I’d finished at my parents. Yes, you read that right – it is now our tree. Every time I think of it as my tree, he would always show up there, so now it’s our tree.

My mother continued talking, totally oblivious that I was having a panic attack at her kitchen table.

“There’s going to be a welcome-home dinner and I have offered to host it here, and I have also invited my new neighbors,” Mother told me.

I was wondering who these new neighbors were. Mother hadn’t mentioned before that people were going to be moving in. I planned to ask Mom who the new neighbors were and if they were local when I remembered that I must tell Johnathon that Charles will be coming home for a week and that I won’t be able to get away to our tree.

My mother was looking at me, probably wondering why I had all of a sudden turned as white as snow and hadn’t yet replied.

“No, mother – I hadn’t been told they were coming back for a week, do you happen to know when they will be arriving mother?” I questioned steadily.

“Why yes actually I do, they should be here any day now. Today or tomorrow I should think.”

I was panicking now. I had to get my jobs in the garden done quickly so I could get to our tree and warn Johnathon. I quickly excused myself from the kitchen, returning to my work in the garden.

The whole time I was thinking, my mind racing. I had so many emotions running through me. I was feeling sick that Charles was coming home which meant one thing….. more abuse.

I felt scared that he might find out about Johnathon and I seeing each other, although I knew Johnathon and I has been extra careful so that we were not seen together. And then this new feeling I had about Johnathon; I think it’s love that I feel. It doesn’t match to the encounter I had when I was 16, but it’s not far off.

After I finished my work in the garden I quickly said my goodbyes to my mother and father then started walking towards our tree. When I got there Johnathon was no where to be found.

I waited and waited but he never appeared. After about two hours of waiting I decided to walk home.

Johnathon had never stood me up before. Something must have happened.

But I knew I couldn’t go and ask anyone as it may cause suspicion. So I walked home and when I got to the front gate there was Charles, waiting for me in his uniform with no flowers or chocolates – just the look of pure hatred on his eveil face.

This was not a good sign. He obviously hadn’t changed, was the first thought that went through my mind. I slowly walked up the path and then up the lone step leading to my front door. I tried to smile, I knew it was fake but I was trying my hardest to be the best “wife” I could be. I didn’t want to give him reason to abuse me. I got no hug, no kiss, nothing from him. The first thing he said to me was, “Esme, where the hell have you been? Why are you so late? I called your parents and they said you left two hours ago. How do you explain yourself?” he demanded, his tone rough.

I started to panic. I had to think of something quickly. Oh God this was not good.

“I stopped by Evie’s, she needed a hand cooking and cleaning. She had all the kids at home today, they’ve all got flu so haven’t been at school and well. You know how I love to spend time with them,” I answered, avoiding eye-contact.

I knew it was a lie but did he? I just hoped if he talked to Evie she would realize and cover for me. I knew Evie would have my back now that she knew the truth about Charles.

“Okay,” was all he said. Later that night Charles did what he usually did.

After my humiliation, I just laid there staring at the walls and wishing and praying that he would soon go back to war. Silent tears fell softly down my cheek onto the feather pillow under my head. I prayed to the Lord that some way, some how, I would find a way out of this horror story I was living in.

That’s when I heard it: “Ting Ting Ting.” The soft noise came from my bedroom window, so carefully – without waking Charles – I crept out of bed to the window and looked out to find Johnathon staring up at me. I quickly walked to our back door and went outside. I whispered Johnathon’s name and then he was there in front of me.

I had an extremely weird sensation come over me. It was only a few hours, but it felt like we had been apart for so much longer. But now he was close, yet so far. I wanted to be near him, close to him, to feel his lips on mine, but I couldn’t… not tonight. I told myself Charles was asleep in the house. I had to be really careful now.

“Johnathon, you can’t be here right now. Charles is back and if he sees you–”

He cut me off by placing his finger on my lips. It lingured there and he spoke quietly. “Don’t worry. I will protect you and look after myself. I just wanted to see you. I was so upset at not being able to see you today at the tree, but my parents and I moved houses. Esme I’m so sorry.”

I didn’t know what to say, so I kissed him.

It was like my body took over and my brian didn’t want to function, but I knew I needed him. I felt so happy and blissful like I was flying. He kissed me back with so much passion. I have never known this passion before – it was new to me and I liked it.

I started to feel guilty again and scared, knowing Charles was inside and that he could wake up at any moment to find me and Johnathon here. I broke away from him gently – so as not to hurt his feelings.

He gently brushed away a tear that escaped my eye. He brushed my cheek and his hands tried, unsuccessfully, to pull my mouth up into a smile. Johnathon held my hand and with a quick peck on my lips, he was gone.

I stood there and watched him leave, that’s when I felt something strange in my hand, the one Johnathon had just been holding. I looked down to see what it was and found a piece of paper folded into 4 bits. It read:

“I will see you tomorrow night. Forever yours, Johnathon xx.”

I smiled to myself then quickly walked back inside. I had to get rid of this paper, in case Charles found it. I threw it in the fire and watched as it hit the smouldering rocks, quickly bursting into flames. I stood there looking as it disintergrated into a pile of ash, then I slowly crept upstairs and crawled back into bed. Charles rolled over but didn’t wake.

Love Esme xxx

 

May

19th

Esme’s Diary (Chapter 8: New Thoughts)

My heart stopped beating… I couldn’t tell if he was going to attempt to kiss me or not. I actually wanted him to kiss me now… I was so caught up in the moment that I actually didn’t care if anyone saw us.

It was like someone else had taken over my body. I wasn’t acting the way I normally did, I was being carefree and irresponsible.

He was so close I could feel his breathe against my cheek. He was just staring into my eyes, so close. I wasn’t sure how long I could take this, either he was going to kiss me or I was going to have to move away and regain my composure.

Before I had any more time to think Johnathon lent down a fraction further and softly pressed his lips on mine and I took a sharp intake of breath. I hadn’t thought he was actually going to kiss me. I closed my eyes and let instinct take over. His soft lips pushed against mine. I wanted it to carry on forever. Then I heard a rustle behind me. I jumped back, pulling away from Johnathon with a gasp. Turning around all I saw was a squirrel running up a tree. But it was enough to snap me out of my daze and back to reality.

“I’m sorry, I have to go,” I mumbled to Johnathon. I didn’t wait to hear what he had to say. I was so angry with myself. Why did I let my barriers down? Why?

I rushed into my house and wandered around. I didn’t know what to do.

I had to get out, I had to talk to someone. I walked out of the house, glad that Johnathon hadn’t hung around waiting. I made my way to Evie’s house.

I knocked on Evie’s door lightly. “Come in,” she shouted..

“Hi Evie.”

“Hey, am I glad to see you. Couldn’t give me a hand could you?”

“Sure, put me to work,” I replied.

“Can you please feed Ruby whilst I fix dinner for Harry and Mary?”

“Of course I can. Come here little lady and let Auntie Esme give you your dinner,” I said in a motherly-tone.

Ruby was so pretty, she was the mirror image of her mother: gorgeous blonde curls and startling blue eyes. And as the youngest, Evie adored her. Not that she didn’t love the others but she had a soft spot for Ruby. The other two, Mary and Harry JNR, were very similar to their father Harry SNR, with their dark hair and hazel eyes. They each had the strong jawline that their father had. Evie and Ruby had much softer features, thin faces and high cheekbones.

“So, how are you?” Evie asked, I could tell she knew something was up.

“Well, remember I told you about that man I met?” I didn’t wait for Evie to say anything. I had to get this out otherwise I wouldn’t say it. “Well I went to my tree again today and he turned up a little later. Anyway, we talked and the feelings I had were so strong and I didn’t know what to do. I wanted something to happen but at the same time I didn’t. I told him I had to go home before something happened, so he walked me home, and then he held my face in his hands and whispered in my ear that he was falling in love with me. Then he kissed me.” I spoke so quickly that I only used on breathe while saying all this and I gasped for breathe as Evie took in everything I had just told her.

“Esme,” she began, a twinkle in her eye. “Although I can understand your predicament I am thrilled.”

My mouth dropped open as she carried on.

“Please, let me explain. You used to be so carefree and happy and then when you married Charles we all knew it wasn’t your choice. And then almost immediately you lost the sparkle in your eye. Not long after you married him you came to see me, your sleeves kept riding up and showing the bruises on your arm. I didn’t want to say anything because I knew you would talk to me when you were ready. When Charles went to war you became yourself again, but only fractionally. Since you met Johnathon you have had that sparkle in your eye again. I know it’s not the most ideal situation but you deserve so much better, and it would seem that Johnathon is that person. I think you should enjoy yourself and find out what he wants. But at the same time be careful, you don’t want Charles finding out when he gets back.”

By this point I was crying. Tears were streaming out of my eyes and flowing freely down my face. I had mixed emotions. Sad because I wish my life had turned out differently. But happy because I had another chance.

“Evie, thank you so much. You’ve helped more than words can say. I….”

“Esme, it’s fine, don’t worry.” At that exact moment in walked Evie’s parents.

I have to go now so I shall right again soon!

Love Esme xx

 

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