The torture she endured was to continue, the arguments gradually worsening. People were very suspicious when Beth appeared once again with her arm in a sling after yet another trip to casualty. She swore to Harrison not to mention anything if anyone asked.This was becoming all too much. Beth prayed that night, asking for Harrison to disappear. Her prayers almost seemed to be answered.

Harrison proudly announced one morning over an awkward breakfast filled with deadly silence, that he would be going away for a while “on business” at the start of next week! what business? Beth had her heavy suspicions but after the argument last night she was past the point of caring what he did. To Beth’s amazement it was for 6 weeks. Wonderful, 6 weeks of freedom she thought.

Beth had already found some comfort in Christianity,  she used the local church as a place to think more than anything. Sitting in the carved wooden pew brought a feeling of peace to her fraught mind. She always sat alone in the church. The long narrow parish was situated overlooking the lower lands and reservoir. Its architecture expanded back to the 15th Century with elegantly structured glass panes. It was quiet, a place to reflect. Beth’s escape.

On a particular afternoon just a matter of days later Beth quickly realised that she was not alone, she was joined by another. 5 rows back sat a man around her own age. She couldn’t help but notice the fact that he was strikingly handsome, far more so than Harrison. His eyes were closed, his head slightly bowed in some sort of prayer. He quickly sensed her and gazed up giving Beth a shy smile. She felt the blood flow rapidly racing to her cheeks. She muttered a quick and polite “hello” her heart was all of a flutter. Beth spun her body around so that once again her back was turned to him and nothing more was said.

Shortly on returning home to Beth’s horror she received a phone call  stating that she and Harrison were invited to dinner at her parents, just before he was due to go away. How awful she thought, another evening of putting on a brave happy face and pretending.  It was always a fairly formal occasion. Beth eyed her wardrobe for a suitable dress to wear, she hated everything. Harrison often would buy her clothes, he had good taste, but that wasn’t the point. He had made her individuality his, crushing her spirit. It was another thing she had lost control over! She opted for the midnight blue Grecian style dress teamed with black suede court shoes. Beth gazed into her oblong mirror and sighed. Her chocolate-brown hair was being unruly, so using bobby pins she fixed into a classic chignon. Her face looked pale, she applied some simple makeup to bring out the best in her unhappy features.

From start to finish the evening was filled with polite conversations which of course Harrison heavily dominated with his favourite subject, himself!  Beth couldn’t focus on the chatter during the meal time or her food, it disinterested her she hated this horrible pretending and lonely way of life. She seemed to brainlessly push her portion of raspberry Pavlova around her plate with her fork for the duration of dessert. Beth’s sub-conscious seemed to be somewhere else, and she seemed distant to Harrison and his parents. They were right. Her mind was swimming with thoughts of the quiet man from the church with his gentle smile.



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