by Bill Cox
I used to come out here a lot as a teenager. We would hang around the golf course, laughing, joking and flirting as we watched the lights of the town in the distance. Robbie Driscoll would drive us out here in his dad’s Jaguar, always worried that we’d mess the car up. “It’s real bloody leather,” he would say, “my Dad will kill me,” he would say. “No he won’t,” I remember replying, “Your Dad’s too busy laying into your mother to worry about you.” I was a tough bitch back then, high on my youth, my confidence built on bravado and thin air.
I knew Robbie liked me but I couldn’t wait to get away, all big plans with stars in my eyes. I was going to be rich and famous, that was my dream; and like every dream it evaporated when reality intruded. I remember sitting in my bedroom, numbly staring at a pregnancy test and feeling infinite possibilities collapse down into a single, restrictive road.
Our respective parents thought of themselves as respectable folks, so I found myself at the altar saying “I do” before the baby bump was too noticeable. Truth is I didn’t protest too much as I just assumed there was no other choice. The irony was that I ended up miscarrying, and the doctors said that there was something wrong inside so they took out my womb.
I tried to settle into my new role as wife but soon found that Robbie had learned well from his father. I learned to hide the bruises. I just assumed that this was what a relationship entailed, how men expressed their love. How would I know differently?
With no-one to rein him in there was only one place Robbie could go and that was too far. I spent two weeks in hospital recovering from ‘my fall’. It gave me time to think, to review my life and I realised that Robbie was right, it was all my fault. I’d accepted what life had given me, said ‘more please’ when it screwed me over. Well, I decided, no more.
It took a bit of patience, a bit of planning. Thankfully Robbie was a bit coy about using his fists after the police started sniffing about when I ended up in hospital. I worked some extra shifts, enough to afford the increase in the life insurance. Today I left him passed out drunk on the sofa. The alarm should go off shortly for his night-shift. He’ll wake up and have his usual hang-over cigarette. I doubt he’ll smell the gas from the oven, even though it’s been on a few hours now.
I wave the torch around, watching the moths dancing in its electric flame. In the distance there’s a small flash and a low rumble follows shortly afterwards. I start walking back towards town, back to the lights and the opening up of new possibilities.