It's a question I've been asking myself for so long now.
My daughter, Robyn, was born a few months ago. I wish she hasn't been, not into this world. Not into a world that couldn't see her anymore than a common slave. But since her birth, I was admitted to Lord Monro's household as a wet-nurse for his children. The poor Lord has lost his wife a week or so before Robyn's birth, and some of his children were still small babies that needed constant care and attention. Through this, Robyn and myself were kept away from my home and in the custody of Lord Monro's household servants. The man was very accommodating and allowed us to stay nearly two or three days at a time. Granted, to him it might have looked like a favour.
But my absence at home seemed to have stirred a new hell.
When I came home today, Ruben was half-drunk and delusional. It shocked me to see him this way. He knew he didn't have the money to spend like this. I knew.
“Ruben!” was all I could manage. I put Robyn in her cradle and picked up a fallen chair, so Ruben might sit rather than roll around on the floor.
“Aye, there you are, love!” he smiled, “Enjoyed your stay at the Lord's manor? Did you mentioned to him that your married? Or do you just dive in, no words?”
“I'm just asking,” he laughed and raised his arms in an uncoordinated fashion, “Who am I to judge which old man you sleep with?”
“Ruben,” I sucked in my breath, “How are you spending this money? Where are you getting it from? You know we can't afford it!”
“Well, you know I'm not the breadwinner anymore,” he chuckled, “That's a woman's job now, ain't it?”
“What are you saying?”
Ruben's head bobbed up and down, and he snorted.
As the realisation dawned on me, my blood began to heat, “You stole my money?”
“Your money?” he cackled, “Yours?” he rose from his seat, “Who's been keeping you all these years, eh? Before your bloody mingling with Monro!”
“Keeping me?” I replied to his ludicrous question, “Keeping me, Ruben? You've been killing me!”
You should never argue with a drunk man. It never ends well.
He slapped my face and I fell to the floor in a heap. I scrambled up, unable to feel my nose.
“Finally learned to speak, have you?” he shouted, “Did Monro teach you that?”
I stood up, backing up against a wall. I felt tears well up in my eyes and goose-bumps rise on my skin.
He had no right to do this to me.
I'd rather stand in a pool of my own blood than live in fear anymore.
“Get away from me!” I screeched, “You monster! You evil, pathetic, twisted monster!”
He held my arms down and bared his teeth, “Say that again.”
I spat in his face.
He growled, pulled me off the wall and twisted my arm behind my back. I screamed in pain, and Robyn burst into tears at the sound.
My baby. My poor, poor baby...
“Everything I've ever done was for you,” Ruben cursed through his teeth, “and this is the bloody thanks I get, my reward after all that?”
“You stole my money and spent it on grog, you bastard!” I barked, “That's all you ever did! Everything you did was for beer and brandy! Not for me! Never for me!" He threw me away, "Does some purpose keep you talking?" I turned around, raging with fury and pushed him back, "Everything you do, Ruben, everything you do is for yourself!" I pushed him again and he hit the table, "You're always tearing shit down, when you could be building things up. Or building yourself up if nothing else!" He got up and lunged for me. I fell beneath him and struggled to get away, squirming beneath his weight, "You'll die today, mopsie," he said, grasping my neck, "Aye, I'll make sure of it." I felt his thumbs dig into my throat, the air cut off and my hands scratched his hands weakly - unable to change the power of his grip. The light began to fade, I couldn't breathe. I could hear Robyn warbling at the top of her lungs, but there was nothing I could do...