I can hear the letter box rattling. There is a figure at the window by the stairs, I turn off the light knowing he could see in. Again, there, a shadow by the window to the living room. I cannot see but I know. My child is tiny again, speechless and helpless, I cradle her, less than 10lbs that she is against me and then the letterbox bangs again.
Eyes. Those eyes I never wanted to see again, they are there, staring at me, challenging me. He has found us. Suddenly he has gone again and I look around me feel adrenaline and then relief flood through me as I locate my keys, my phone. Police, call the police, now, get help.
The police woman laughs at me. They will not send help for a shadow at the window. They do not believe the danger. He has made no threat, no attempt to force entry. They will not get involved in a domestic dispute.
I am trapped at the top of the stairs, I should have put those fucking curtains up, why did I not put them up, why did I leave it now if I go downstairs he will see me, but he has already seen me, he knows I am here what does it matter where I am in the house. He has come to take her.
With a deep breath I run down the stairs still cradling my child, look out of the windows and can see nothing. Run. I could run, if I scream someone will help I have a baby someone will help me won’t they?
Not breathing I turn the key and a body slams against the door trying to get it, somehow, somehow I force it closed trapping his hand like that one awful time. Could I have broken his hand this time? I had to slam the door, I had to get away, he had a knife our child was still inside me.
The cellar. This house has a cellar he doesn’t know that, I can get through the window he won’t know.
Down the stairs, I call my Mother, I call my Father, my Brother, my Sister, Brother-in-law, SOMEONE PLEASE HELP US HE’S HERE HE HAS FOUND US. No-one answers.
This room is not my cellar. This is not my house.
My child. Suddenly my arms are empty, where is she, Where Is She WHERE IS SHE?? I inhale and search frantically my lungs filling with thick acrid smoke, burning my eyes what is burning, where am I Where IS SHE?
The attic conversion of the house we once shared. I know it now. I know the smell of this house. He has done it. He said he would. I am trapped. Again, somehow he has trapped me in here again only this time he lit the match. The room still smelt of the lighter fluid he tipped over the furniture as I cowered from him, holding my stomach, too afraid and too heavily pregnant to get away from him as fast as I would need to. He must have done it. A cigarette, a match. I didn’t think he was that crazy WHERE IS SHE?
I have to find her but I cannot see, the smoke is blinding and suddenly all I can see are the flames. I think I can hear her but she is nowhere to be found but then suddenly I feel arms around me, lifting me carrying me down the stairs
“WHERE IS SHE!” Screaming as loud as my lungs can take. Struggling but I know I cannot escape him. I was never strong enough. I kick at him, try to hit, scratch, bite ANYTHING “LET ME GO AND FUCKING TELL ME WHERE SHE IS!”. I am hysterical, smoke and sweat blind me and I am exhausted from fighting him already but he has my child I must find her I have to protect her.
“She’s outside. Your Mother has her”.
“Where? Where is she?”
“Your Mother is outside with her she is safe. They are waiting for the fire engines.” His voice turns my stomach. I know not to believe him.
I cannot speak the smoke is too thick. I struggle against him, try to get free but he is too strong. He was always too strong.
Suddenly I am released and I am outside. Night sky, sirens, crowds.
I cannot see my child.
“WHERE IS SHE?” I scream again and again, turning to see the smoke, the flames pouring out of the windows of the house I brought my newborn daughter home to. I try to get past him, to get back inside I HAVE TO FIND HER, I HAVE TO SAVE HER WHERE IS SHE?!…
I retch and fall out of the bed, hot, shaking and half crawl half walk across the hallway. My daughters night light casts a soft orange glow across her room. She sleeps soundly, her bear squashed under her face, covers bunched around her. I lift the sleeping heat of her, hold her close and tiptoe back to my bed. Lay beside her my ragged breathing finally calms. In sleep she reaches out and pats my face, mumbles “hey-o Mama”.
We are safe. We have escaped the flames.