Lynda tried to duck away as Paul’s fist shot out. Once again she had said the wrong thing over breakfast. Her husband could not control his temper and needed to prove he was right by beating her up.
She was not so fortunate. He hit her full in the face and she lost her balance. She smacked against the kitchen cupboard and felt the bruise on her temple. Despite knowing better, she tried to persuade him not to go on.
“Paul, please,” she begged.
He did not hear her – or did not want to. He was only satisfied when he had kicked her around some more and the begging finally stopped. Lynda had lost consciousness.
She woke up a couple of hours later, bruised and battered. Experience told her that no bones were broken and she need not go into the A&E room to hear awkward questions. At least she would be on her own for the rest of the day, as Paul only returned from work at 7 p.m. She tried to clean herself up to the best of her abilities and put a band-aid over the bruises.
She could not concentrate on her housework. At long last she sat down on the sofa and tried to figure out what she should do now. Her best friend, Sylvie, had told her over and over that she should leave Paul and file for a divorce. Then perhaps she could be happy once more.
Lynda laughed bitterly. Happy! When had she ever felt happy?
She tried to recall a time when she had had no worries, when she had been free to enjoy the simple things that make life enjoyable – and suddenly, the memory popped up.
She had been seven years old and her family had been on holiday in Portugal. Her parents were constantly fighting, she remembered. One day it had become too much to bear any longer and she had taken off into the foothills. She had run and run until she found herself in a lush green valley. There she has sunk down on a boulder and allowed the tears to run freely.
Suddenly, she heard a thundering noise. And there they were – the most beautiful white horses she had ever seen! One of them neared her and bowed its head to nudge her shoulder. It was as if it wanted to say: ‘Come and play with me!’ It allowed her to crawl onto its back and then they were off once more.
It was the most wonderful experience. Lynda felt like she was flying through the air, with no worry on her mind. That was happiness!
She made up her mind. That was what she wanted to do. Go to Portugal and find the horses.
Now that she had reached a decision, she was quick to act upon it. She took out some suitcases and filled them up with her possessions. The last thing she did before closing the door behind her and her marriage to Paul was write him a note. It read: “I’m leaving. Don’t try to find me. You’ll hear from my solicitor.”
Sylvie was glad to see her and took her in without questions. Of course Lynda confided in her and told her that she had finally left Paul.
“And I’ve been to the bank and withdrew the ten thousand pounds in our savings account,” she concluded. “The clerk didn’t want to give it to me at first, but I said it was an emergency and got away with it, without Paul’s signature!”
“Clever girl,” Sylvie praised her. “What do you intend to do with it?”
“I don’t know yet,” she confessed. “But I do know that I want a holiday. I haven’t had one in years. There’s a place in Portugal that I remember…”
The following day the two women went into the town’s center. One of the first things they did, was enter a travel agency. Lynda explained that she wanted to go to the Portuguese coast.
“You can fly to Lisbon,” the clerk told her. “And rent a car there. Do you have a driver’s licence?”
“I have,” acknowledged Lynda. “When is the first available flight?”
“You can leave at 5.10 p.m.,“ the clerk said, after consulting her pc, “If you want to, I can make reservations in a Lisbon hotel for you as well. I suppose that will be more convenient. You can head for the coast the following day, after a night’s rest.”
“That’s fine with me. Just make the reservations.”
The less time she had to think, the better. Sylvie agreed to that. Before they returned to Sylvie’s flat, they did some express shopping for Lynda’s trip.
The moment they entered the flat, they heard the phone ringing.
“That’ll be Paul!” Lynda said in panic.
“Don’t worry,” said Sylvie, “I won’t tell him where you are.”
She picked up the receiver.
“Sylvie Prescott speaking.”
“No, she isn’t. And I haven’t seen her in while, to be honest.”
“Sure, I’ll do that. But I must go now, I’m late as it is!”
She put the horn down and turned to Lynda.
“I’m afraid he doesn’t believe me,” she told her. “What should we do now?”
“He’ll be round to check things out. I think it’s best that you take me to Heathrow. That way he’ll see you return on your own. You can even let him in, to make sure I’m not here.”
“It’ll be a long wait for you there.”
“Don’t worry about that. I’ll buy some paperbacks and do some reading. I love doing that, but I never seem to find the time for it!”
“You’re sure of it?”
“Of course!” Lynda gave Sylvie a quick hug. “Thanks for everything!”
They did not waste any more time. Sylvie got her car out and then they were off.