So, if you enjoy reading this, please consider purchasing a copy of the novel and writing a review on Amazon. In the meantime, I am busy working on the next one.
Evelyn ran from the cafe, her head filled with pain and confusion.
Faces seemed to fling themselves into hers as she ran, muddling her vision and thoughts. She only knew she had to get away from that woman who’d been goading her, saying things that she shouldn’t say. Things about Evelyn’s baby. Things about Karen. It was all so mixed up in her head. Then the woman had prodded her as she spoke and that had made Evelyn angry, so angry that she’d felt the emotions exploding inside her.
Evelyn knew she had to get away from her. She’d stood up and shouted ‘No!’ and had left. She knew she had to leave before she did something bad to the woman. Evelyn didn’t want to do bad things any more. Life was getting better now. She was still scared at times but Karen had helped her to feel safe.
Where was Karen?
‘She said she’d look after me,’ Evelyn thought to herself, then realised that the words had been spoken aloud. People were staring at her as she stumbled along the street. She had no idea where she was going.
It was with a shock that she found herself under the shadow of the church tower. Looking up at the clock which was looming over her like a dark memory, she noticed that it was nearly eleven. The bells would soon be chiming the hour.
Without further thought she turned into Trinity Street and found herself standing outside number twenty-eight, her heart bursting with feelings that she couldn’t even start to describe.
She peered into the alley at the side of the house. It was all in darkness apart from the sunlight at the far end, a tunnel into the future and past all jumbled together in her head.
A group of young girls giggled their way towards her on the pavement. As they approached Evelyn took flight through the alley without further thought. The bright sunlight blinded her as she reached the end of the darkened walkway. She covered her eyes with her hand, trying to collect her senses.
It was some seconds before she noticed the old woman sitting in a chair outside the back door of the house. She appeared to be asleep, her eyes were closed and her face was relaxed and at peace.
Evelyn took a sharp intake of breath as the woman opened her eyes. Evelyn wanted to run away, but it was too late.
‘Mum?’ she said instead.
‘Evelyn?‘ The old woman looked startled as she struggled to her feet. She quickly composed herself. ‘My dear child, come in. Please come in.’
Evelyn just stood frozen to the spot as she glared at her mother. A moment passed before the older woman reached out her hand and took Evelyn’s in her own.
‘Please, sit down with me for a while,’ she pleaded. ‘Here.’ She motioned to the chair. ‘I’ll get another chair from the kitchen. Please don’t go,’ she called as she dashed into the house as quickly as she could. She re-appeared a moment later with another chair. ‘I’m so glad you’ve come,’ she said, placing the chair next to Evelyn’s and sitting down on the edge.
‘I ran away,’ Evelyn said.
‘From the hospital?’
‘No. We were out. Me and the nurses.’
‘Why did you run away?’ Her mother’s voice was quiet.
‘Karen said she’d look after me.’
‘Karen? Is she the nurse?’
They sat in silence.
‘I missed you,’ Evelyn finally said. ‘You stopped coming.’
Evelyn glanced at her mother and felt an overwhelming sadness for the lost years that would never return.
‘I’m sorry,’ her mother said. ‘I couldn’t...’
‘I thought you were dead,’ Evelyn accused.
‘I was wrong. It was so...’
‘Where’s Uncle Bob?’ Evelyn felt no fear of him now. It was such a long time ago. He’d be an old man now and couldn’t hurt her again.
‘He died. A long time ago now. Ten years.’ She paused. ‘I should have come to see you before, but I was afraid to. Every time I visited you, it seemed to make you worse, to upset you. That’s why I decided to stop coming.’
Evelyn said nothing. She couldn’t remember how she’d felt back then. It was so long ago and she’d spent so many years blocking out the pain. She felt relief that he was dead, that was all. She was glad that he was gone and she’d never have to remember those things he’d done to her - things that she could never talk about.
‘I know I was wrong,’ her mother went on. ‘I only did what I thought was best but it broke my heart not seeing you. I’ve always hoped that one day you’d get better though, and come home again.’
‘My baby’s gone,’ Evelyn said.
‘I am so sorry about your baby. I couldn’t have done anything else at the time. I wish I had though. I would give anything to go back and change things, but I couldn’t go against Bob. We... I relied on him.’
A silence fell between them again. Evelyn’s feelings were still in a muddle and her mother couldn’t seem find the words to make things easier. Evelyn avoided looking at her, aware of the nearness of her mother and the void of the years apart from her.
The clatter of footsteps in the alley disturbed the silence as Karen burst through the end of the walkway and into the bright sunlight.
‘Evelyn!’ Karen blurted. ‘Thank God you’re alright.’
‘You?’ Her mother seemed to already know Karen.
Evelyn stood up, about to run away again. Her eyes darted to the end of the garden, but she knew there was no escape in that direction.
‘Please don’t go, Evelyn,’ Karen said quietly.
Evelyn sighed. ‘I lost my baby,’ she said.
‘It’s alright, Evelyn,’ Karen’s voice was soothing. Evelyn hesitated. She didn’t want to think about her baby but being here just brought it all back.
‘Evelyn’s baby was taken away a short while after she was born,’ her mother was saying. ‘Times were difficult for us.’ She looked at Evelyn.
It hurt so much, just remembering. Everything about this place made it all so real again. The smell of the garden, the sound of the birds singing, seeing her mother again. The tears started to flow as Evelyn felt the pain, as fresh as on the day it had happened. She just wanted to get back to the safety of her room on the ward, to cocoon herself in the blanket of madness which had always provided her with the comfort she needed.
Karen was speaking to her again.
‘Evelyn. You’re going to be alright. I’ll get you back to the hospital safely.’ It was as though she’d read Evelyn’s mind.
‘Won’t you just stop for a cup of tea?’ her mother pleaded.
‘Evelyn?’ Karen asked.
But Evelyn knew she couldn’t stay any longer. She shook her head and clutched Karen’s arm, ignoring the look of pain on her mother’s face.
‘I’ll take her back then,’ Karen smiled. ‘Maybe we could visit again.’
‘That would be nice. Evelyn, would you like that?’
Evelyn could only nod. She wiped away her tears and tried to smile.
‘And I could come and visit you, if you like,’ her mother added. She reached out to Evelyn and touched her fleetingly on the hand.
‘Alright.’ Evelyn snatched her hand away.
‘I’m glad you came to see me today. Thank you.’
Evelyn turned to Karen. ‘Can we go back now?’ she asked.
‘Of course,’ Karen said. ‘Goodbye Mrs. Chapman.’ She smiled at the older woman as Evelyn clung tighter onto her arm. They turned and walked together through the alley into the present world of busy streets, the bus back to the hospital, and Evelyn’s reality.