THE BREAK UP
by Sally Stackhouse
‘Come on let’s go.’
Bradley grabbed her hand and pulled her upright, she stood still, looking down the hillside and the people, hordes of people all scurrying around like ants, dashing here there and everywhere, busy, busy, busy.
‘No, Bradley. I can’t go down there.’ Tears fell from Rachel’s eyes, her breath hitched in her throat.
‘Please don’t make me.’
‘What on earth is the matter with you, you dumb blonde!’
Rachel turned away, pulling her hand out of his grip, his fingers felt as though they had left bruises, she was sure his fingernails had dug in to her palm.
‘Fine! Act like a wimp. I really don’t know what I saw in you.’ Bradley’s venom didn’t stop there.
‘You might be blonde and beautiful but you’re worse than useless. That’s it. I’m over you. You can find your own way home.’ He stomped away, jumped in the car and tore out of the car park in a dust cloud, revving the engine so hard that everybody else just stopped what they were doing and stared at the retreating boot of the car. Souped up as it was, the red machine tore down the hillside with no regard for any oncoming traffic. It was lucky he didn’t cause an accident.
Rachel sat on a rock, hugging her knees to her chest, trying to control a panic attack she could feel was imminent if she didn’t get her breathing under control.
‘Are you alright, my love?’ Came the question from a concerned, more mature lady. ‘Let me sit with you for a few minutes. Catch your breath, love and then you can tell me all about it but only if you want to.’
Half an hour passed by. Rachel lifted her head from where it had been resting on her knees, turning her neck to get the cricks out of it she realised the lady was still sitting next to her.
‘Umm, thank you,’ she croaked out. The lady passed Rachel a tissue followed by a sweet.
‘Suck this my dear, it’s barley sugar, it will help even out your blood levels and give you an energy boost.’
‘Are you a medical person?’
‘Oh no, my dear, just a lady with life experience. Don’t quote me on the medicinal qualities of the sweet, you might get me in to trouble.’ A laugh and a wink followed this statement.
Rachel gratefully began sucking on the sweet, it gave her mouth something to do other than puckering up in a grimace as she thought back to what Bradley had done to her. The sweetness enveloped her mouth, the caramelised taste bringing a new sensation to her taste buds.
Half an hour went by, the sun became hidden behind grey clouds, a chilly breeze ruffled Rachel’s hair. She looked up and realised the lady was still sitting beside her.
‘Let me give you a lift home, my love. I hate to see you so distraught.’
‘Oh no, I couldn’t possibly accept. You don’t know where I live.’
‘It’s no trouble at all. I’ll just phone my husband to tell him I’ll be later home. My name is Joan,’ said the stranger.
Rachel took the proffered hand, surprised at the warmth it held. Joan’s compassion made her heart contract, that a stranger would sit with her, not speaking, was almost beyond her comprehension.
Rachel said, ‘you’re the nicest person in the world.’ A watery smile followed the statement.
Joan put her hand on Rachel’s knee, patting it gently in a maternal way. ‘I will help you whenever I can. Now, let’s get going before darkness falls.’
Arriving at the flat Rachel shared with Bradley, her nerves began to shatter her confidence. What sort of mood would Bradley be in? Would he hit her again like last week? Would he just give her the cold shoulder and sit there in stony silence?
Joan offered to walk up with her to the flat. At first Rachel refused but then, with a grateful nod, she accepted. On the landing were her clothes, strewn all over the passage, undies and all, for the world to see. Scooping what she could in her arms Joan indicated Rachel should do the same.
‘You’ll stay with us tonight.’ As they got back in the car, clothing bundled high in the back seats, in the boot and on the parcel shelf, Joan reversed out of the parking area.
The next morning, Rachel woke up in a strange but very comfortable bed, surrounded by a fluffy duvet that had cocooned her and enveloped her allowing her to have a deep sleep. She opened the bedroom curtains and beheld a wonderful field of wild flowers, drifting out to a sunrise in the distance.
The smell of toast wafted up the stairs making Rachel’s stomach growl in response.
Over tea and toast, slathered with butter and homemade jam, she considered all her options, asking for Joan’s opinion. Frank, entered the kitchen, a gruff man but under all the bluster there was a heart of gold. ‘You can stay with us as long as you like.’ He took his cup of tea and a plate of toast and wandered off to the living room, muttering under his breath about ‘women’s talk.’
Thrashing out all the problems it was decided that Rachel needed a job, somewhere to live, that was taken care of by her staying with Joan and Frank. Joan’s friend was looking for help in running her B & B only a few streets away. As the two ladies approached Hilary’s establishment, Rachel gasped in surprise.
‘The house is so pretty. No wonder it’s always fully booked.’
Introductions, CV’s considered, phone calls made for references and the job was Rachel’s. She couldn’t believe her luck. Bradley had done her a huge favour in throwing her out, she should have left him months ago but didn’t have the confidence as he had worn down all her self-esteem. Now she was well on her way to making herself a new life, one that would be filled with joy and happiness.