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Authors: Ricki Thomas

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BOOK: Hope's Vengeance
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“They’ve recently run tests on all of us to see whether anyone can donate some bone marrow, and we found out today that Keith’s perfect match.”

“Is he a brother?”

“Her Dad. Charity’s husband. Too late for her baby though, she lost it late last night, started bleeding early evening, went to hospital tennish, and lost the baby soon afterwards. I should think it’s probably down to stress again.”

Dawn wanted to ask the standard cliché: How does that make her feel? But she knew Hope wouldn’t fall for that one. The only way she knew how to get to Hope, get her to open up and drop the barriers, was to get her talking as if she was talking to herself, get her to debate inside her own mind. She had low hopes for the outcome of this session, because this efficient facet didn’t appear to have proper emotion, only the socially acceptable form. Dawn knew that if Hope was presented with a baby in this mode she would coo; with a lost child, she would fuss; with a chance meeting with an old colleague, she would pass the time of day and discuss the weather.

“You mentioned Charity wasn’t close to any of you, but if she’s only just miscarried, and you were there straight away for her, I’d say that’s pretty close. Wouldn’t you?” Dawn prayed she wouldn’t get a curt rebuttal, Hope was getting braver, and when the anger was directed at her, she felt almost physically threatened.

Hope’s sigh was long, drawn out, and her demeanour began to mutate before Dawn’s eyes. The rigidity of her pose softened, the stiff upper lip relaxed. “We had a hard time, you know, us kids. Mum, my father, they weren’t the best parents in the world, they were selfish, they didn’t put us kids first. My kids always come first, no matter what.”

Hope crossed her arms, she brought her knees in tight, and the room stilled with her childish vulnerability. Victim Hope was showing herself, and Dawn could now see that Victim stemmed from childhood. This was important, she needed the whole story, but Hope had halted. What avenue would be best, Charity, or their parents? “Where does Charity come into that dynamic?”

“It’s not her fault, really, she never did anything to prompt it. We’ve discussed it in the past few years.” Dawn felt a gnawing trepidation, guessing that Daddy’s Little Secret was about to be revealed. “She was their first, she wasn’t planned, so they married quickly and told everyone she’d come early. Faith followed two years later, then me two years after that. Mum says she used to dote on her three girls, but I don’t ever remember feeling doted on, and nor does Faith. Everything was always about Charity. She was the pretty one, the clever one, the sportiest, the funniest, the ‘anything you can think of that makes her better than us’ one. My father’s a hard man, he’s emotionless, but you can see the love for Charity in his eyes. It’s never been there for me, and Faith isn’t in touch with him either.”

“Let me clarify this, are we talking father and child love, or incestuous love here?”

Hope burst into a chuckle, a tinkling, infectious giggle, hand cupped over her mouth, childish, and Dawn couldn’t help but join in, her suspicions evidently unmet. “I could call Dad a lot of things, but a child molester isn’t one of them! Nope, Charity’s legs, mine and Faith’s too, for that matter, were kept firmly together, we were all innocent until we wanted to be guilty.”

Although it was a reassuring response, there was something about the statement that niggled Dawn. Sexuality was a problem for Hope, and it wasn’t just down to the two rapes she’d suffered. Her memory jolted, Dawn leant across the table to collect the pad, she must make a note to question the first rape, it had never been discussed after the severity of the second one. “So you felt your Dad didn’t love you?”

Another smirk, ironic, this time. “My father. A dad behaves like a dad.” Dawn was intrigued, she’d definitely heard Hope call him dad when denying any abusive behaviour. She scribbled a note. “My father was distant, he went to work, he went to the pub, he played golf, he had an amateur radio hut, he was out before we got up, and we were in bed before he got in. All I knew when I was a kid was this grumpy man who we were threatened with if we were naughty.”

“Did he hit you when you were naughty?”

That flashing anger, the ocean blue had a way of boring into Dawn’s mind, and her instinct was to flinch, but she sat firm, determined to retain the power in the partnership. “What is it about you, Dawn? Would that little cliché fit in with your training just perfectly so that you can sum me up as a child sex abuse victim, pat me on the head, and send me on my readjusted way? Fuck off! Dad, my father, he wasn’t a good father, in fact he was a selfish, two-timing bastard who left us all for shit after he fucked off with Sandra, penniless, in a fucking council house, in a fucking shithole down south, with no fucking money, and rags for clothes.

But let’s just get some clarity into your pigeonhole mind here. My father never laid a finger on any one of us. He never got drunk and beat us. He never got drunk and beat my Mum. He got drunk, but he was, probably still is for that matter, a decent man, just one who discarded us when he got a better offer than my mother.”

This was another uncomfortable breakthrough, but Dawn took the torrent on the chin. She easily tolerated bad language, and she recognised that these outbursts actually opened doors inside Hope’s mind, they helped her by getting emotion out for them both to analyse. “Okay. I’ve heard you.”

The fists were down and Hope was passive again, she steeled herself ready for the next instalment. “I was a quiet kid, but naughty, I remember, even though I was only seven, when he left for good. I used to play up, and Mum would lose her rag, and then she would say she’d tell my father when he got home, standard stuff. So if I was naughty, I got to see my Dad, that’s the way I saw it.”

“Bad attention is as good as good attention.” Dawn leant back, relaxed, and interested.

“I started school, I was too young, but they started me early because I was quite bright, they used to do that in those days if the parents pushed hard enough. I missed being home, and there was a boy who used to call me names, it always made me cry, and then I’d wet myself. When Mum dropped me off at school, I’d walk along the inside of the railings when she went home, crying because I didn’t want her to leave me. She always told me to stop being silly, to go and play.

About the same time I noticed that however badly I behaved, Mum stopped threatening me with Dad, and I thought I’d been so naughty he’d gone away, and I didn’t want that, I just wanted him to love me. I still do.”

“So he’d left your Mum?”

“Not yet. He’d gone to work away from home, we were staying back until the house sold, we were away from him for six months.” Hope smiled wistfully, she took a sip, and finished the water, wiping her mouth before putting the cup down. “I didn’t understand it when we moved to Exeter, where Dad’s job was, we started going to the pub with Mum and Dad all the time, there was a playroom, and sometimes I looked through the door and Dad would have his arm around this woman we later knew as Sandra.”

Dawn’s eyes widened. “Your Mum was there?” Although the story was obviously painful, Dawn was intrigued that Hope wasn’t tense, or angry. She seemed resigned to this experience, as if she’d mulled it over so many times she couldn’t be bothered any more.

She expelled slowly, her shoulders low. “Dad had met Sandra as soon as he’d moved to Exeter. She was married, two kids, and she got pregnant during their affair. Her husband, Sam, said the baby was Dad’s, Dad said it was Sam’s. I don’t know how it happened, I’m an adult now, and I wouldn’t tolerate the situation, but Sam and Mum just accepted the affair, and life went on, we just all spent lots of time together, the four adults, the five kids. I got on really well with Sam and Sandra’s daughter, Pen, we became best friends for that period of my life.”

Dawn smiled gently.

“Well, the baby, Felicity, she was born, and it all carried on, then I don’t know what happened, but Sam walked out on Sandra, he just disappeared. I never saw him again.”

“Did you like him?”

“No, he was a revolting alcoholic, he’d get pissed and throw up really noisily in the bathroom. It used to make my stomach churn just hearing it.”

Dawn sat up straight, the bitterness bringing her to attention. Something about that last sentence had made Hope’s teeth grit, her pale hands were fists, the knuckles whitened. It was brief, but significant. She was relaxed in an instant, the episode over, but Dawn wondered if this was where the suspected sexual dysfunction came from. For a moment she debated asking, deciding not to after the previous outburst.

“It happened really quickly. Sam was gone, then Dad moved into Sandra’s house, in with Pen, Fred and Felicity. We moved to Reading, into a tiny house, it was a dump, stank of damp, mould, it was dark, dingy, horrid.”

“So that was your Mum, you, and your two older sisters, right?”

“The way I saw it, Dad didn’t want us any more, he wanted Sandra’s kids. That’s the way Charity and Faith saw it too, but Charity was especially angry because we’d gone from being wealthy to poor. We had to go to the new school in our old uniforms because Mum couldn’t afford to buy us new ones, so right from the start all the other kids teased us. I just used to stand by the wall and cry, I just couldn’t understand what we’d done wrong.”

“You understand now, though, don’t you, that it wasn’t your fault?”

Hope stepped lightly to the water cooler, her footsteps silent, her stance apologetic, small. She refilled her cup, sipping a little. “Yes. But I’m still angry at him.”

With no outward signs, Dawn noted. She glanced at her watch, the session was five minutes over. “It’s a good time to stop, isn’t it?”

Hope nodded, her fragility painful as she stooped to collect her bag, such a contrast to the bustle of efficiency who’d burst in half an hour before. She left the room like a transparent ghost, a slight wisp of nothingness. Dawn laid her pad on the table, put her head in her hands, and breathed, slowly, in, out, trying to dispel the huge sense of abandonment she was experiencing. She could physically feel Hope’s anguish, and it hurt.

Fifteen minutes passed, and finally Dawn resolved to phone Hope during the week to ask if she’d mind changing the time of their sessions to the last before lunch. It was simply too difficult to counsel a client straight after Hope, she felt too emotionally drained.


Session Six



It was a cold morning so Dawn had pulled on a long jumper over her thick jeans, but now she was regretting it as she sat in the overly warm room. She rolled up her sleeves and opened the window slightly, just as Hope came through the door. They smiled at each other and sat. Neither spoke for a minute, then Hope leaned back, her head in her hand. “I saw Lucy.”

Dawn chose not to speak, it didn’t feel appropriate: Hope would continue when she was ready. It took a while.

“She said was sorry. She cried.” Hope stood, she paced slowly between the window and the door, one hand clasping the other behind her back. “She begged me to forgive her.”

“Did you? Could you?”

Hope’s laugh tinkled gently, it was genuine, without a hint of sarcasm. She stopped moving and faced Dawn. “You know, I’ve known Lucy since I was eleven, we met at junior school, the summer before we moved up to high school. I went to the grammar, she went to the comp after that, but we stayed in touch.

Dawn, we grew up together, we had babies together, we helped each other. I loved her.” She sat down, relaxing her head into her hand again. “The tears, god, she can act. But, you know, they weren’t for me. She wasn’t sorry for what she’d put me through, put my kids, my family through. She was sorry because she’s stuck in prison for the next five years. If she had been truly sorry, for her actions, for her part in my nightmare, I would have forgiven her, but she wasn’t. To forgive her would be to absolve her.

Dawn, I don’t love her any more. Visiting her in prison was closure, I did it, it’s over, Brazil’s over. I can’t change it, it happened, but I don’t want it to affect my life any more.”

The resolution was greeted by a huge grin. “I’m so proud of you. If you really can let it go, then that’s a massive step towards a happier future.”

Hope smiled briefly, determination shining from her eyes. “It’s done, it’s not ‘if’ I can, it’s done. I booked the counselling with you because I wanted to get away from Brazil, and we’ve achieved that.”

A slight flicker of worry rippled across Dawn’s brow. “That sounds final.”

Hope beamed widely. “No, after last week, Dawn, it felt so good to go through what happened when I was young, it was so cathartic, it really helped. Dawn, I want to keep seeing you, I want to explore…” Hope tugged the sleeves of her baggy jumper up her arm, displaying the scarring Dawn already knew about. “I want to explore why I do this. I want to know why it makes me feel better.”

“Do you still do it?”
“If I say yes you’ll consider having me sectioned. I’ve been to prison once, I don’t want to again.”
Dawn laughed. “Nice answer!”

Hope’s smile waned, she dipped her head, peeping at Dawn from under the long, dark lashes, childish, timid. “Will you keep seeing me?”

Dawn nearly leaned across to give her client a reassuring pat on the hand, but held herself back, remembering the rules. “Of course I’ll keep seeing you. Hope, I will keep seeing you for as long as you want, and if it takes years, then it takes years!” Hope’s shy smile was back. “Now, where do you want to start?”

“I’d like to pick up from last week, I want to go through it all, step by step, work it all out.”

“Then that’s what we’ll do.” A knock on the door brought a smile to Dawn’s face, she trotted over and opened it. The receptionist passed a tray to her, set with two steaming mugs of coffee, a few sachets of sugar, and a side-plate of biscuits. Dawn thanked her, and laid the tray on the table. “I thought it was unfair for you to keep drinking icy water when the weather’s as bad as this.”

Hope gasped, her mouth dropped. “You did this for me?”

Dawn nodded, but her smile quickly dissipated when she spotted the tears rolling down Hope’s cheeks. Wiping them away, she fished about in her bag, giving up when Dawn placed a box of tissues on the table. Hope took a few and dabbed at the wetness, wiping the reddened nose, but the tears continued to roll.

BOOK: Hope's Vengeance
5.48Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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