1. Chapter one
~~The steam rose from the bath like it would from a freshly made coffee but that is exactly how Katherine Roche liked it. Toes first she stepped into the bath without even retreating as the hot water came into contact with her skin. She made no luxury of the routine, there were no bath salts or bubble bath, no scented candles, simply a tub filled with almost boiling water to wash away the nights earlier events. While she tried to cleanse her skin of all that remained of what had happened, it would not delete it from her mind nor removed the evidence from her skin. The blue and purple patches that dotted her skin seemed to stand out more as it contrasted with the white inside of the bath. Her skin was covered in bruises like that of clumsy child.
The front door slammed and she jumped as a result. The water rippled in a chain reaction to her movement. Relief should have replace the fear she felt now that he had left but she constantly lived with a shadowed of fear inside her.
How long he would be gone for exactly she didn't know but she could predict that he would stumble home in the early hours of the morning drunk and angry while she lay awake pretending to be asleep. But tonight, she told herself, would be different.
Katherine didn't intend of moving around the house quietly as she got dressed and packed the bags but she had gotten used to continuing through life without making a sound so not to upset him, so not to anger him. Although she tried the best she could to not provoke him more often than not he would lash out. He didn't mean it, she always did something to provoke him, it was her fault. It was always her fault. That's what she had always told herself, convinced herself that was the truth. He was a good guy he didn't mean to hurt her. He loved her and she loved him. 'Loved' being the poignant word, past tense. She couldn't be sure that he was still in love with her and she struggled now to convince herself that she was still in love with him. No longer did she believe that his actions were her fault as the more she tried not to anger him the more she managed to.
She hurried to pack their things, shoving clothes into bags and sentimental bits in with them. She took only what they would need. Then when the bags were packed she cautiously opened the front door. The cool nights air hit her with a sense of refreshment. She held the keys in her hand so tight one began digging into her palm. She stepped into the fresh air of the night with caution and placed the bags in the boot.
Then into her daughters room she went. Hands trembling from fear, panic and a strange new sense of freedom, she reached into the cot and stroked the soft, fair hair of the two year old.
"It's ok Finley, it's going to be ok. I promise I won't let him hurt you. I promise" she made a promise and she intended on keeping it, she knew it would be a hard one to keep but she would try.
Katherine reached in and lifted Finley Roche out of the comforting sleep. So innocent and unassuming, little did she know of the monster she called daddy. She began stir from her slumber as her mother moved her. Katherine held her daughter in loving arms, in a comforting embrace but the disruption made Finley wake and it was as though she could feel the fear her mother felt. She began to cry as they walked through the house. Katherine tried to calm her but she struggled to keep herself calm let alone her child.
She walked to the car trembling, scare, a crying child in her arms and tears falling down her own cheeks. She scrapped Finley in the back then got in the driver's seat and pulled away. She drove down the road clinging onto the steering wheel with sweating palms as if her life depended on it. Tears blurred her vision but she blinked them away.
This was the end. The end of all the pain and hurt, the end to the life she has been living for far too long. The beginning to a new life, a life with just the two of them.
As Michael Roche stumbled up the drive he was too drunk to notice the car missing from it. He fumbled with his keys, dropping them before he could get the correct on for the front door ready. I'm his drunken state he lost his footing on the front step as he bent to pick them up. Eventually he got the key in the key hole and leant against the moving door to aid himself into the house.
Each step was a thud as he walked up the stairs although he thought his steps were as light as a ballerinas. He wanted to kiss his daughter good night, he always kissed her good night. Although most nights she would stir up and he would make a poor attempt at comforting her back to sleep. He didn't much like the effect it took to calm her by he didn't like to leave her crying, he preferred the nights she didn't wake. She had been sleeping through his night entrances more often than not recently, used to this disruption. But tonight when leant with his body weight on the door to her bed room it banged when it slammed into the wall behind it but it did not disturb his daughter as she was not resting in her cot as she usually did.
Michael held onto the cot as he looked into it. Nothing. His blood boiled, his face reddened, his grip on the cot tightened. Gone. She was gone. Logic was washed from his mind. He didn't even consider the thought that Finley woke crying in the night and her mother took her elsewhere to comfort. He didn't know it yet but he was right to get angry. He wasn't sure what he thought, he had no idea what has happened. Without the blurred vision of alcohol he might have notice his daughters favourite toy also missing from the cot, the one she never went without.
He stormed across the landing, shoving the door to his room open and seeing an undisturbed bed. Gone. There was a momentary image of the car absent from the drive but he couldn't quite recall whether it had been there or not; is alcohol numbed mind didn't allow him access to all memories of what had happened had night, not even from moments ago. Gone. In a fit of rage he pulled open draws looking for what wasn't there. Gone. Things were gone. They were gone.
He turned and saw his reflection on the full length mirror. And angry, red faces man with clenched fists stared back at him. More rage and anger filled him. Michael threw a punch at the mirror. It shattered and shards few off in several directions.
They were gone.