As we enter a second lockdown, remember that not everyone is safe at home.
The Lockdown Diaries: Keira’s Story (A fictional tale.)
I like enclosed spaces. Most people I know feel trapped when faced with four tall walls looming down, but not me. I see them as my protectors, my giant knights in armour if you will. A locked door and four tall walls means he can’t get to me.
It’s been three hours since Mike slapped me around the face so hard my glasses flew off my nose and smashed against a wall. I don’t know what I had done to warrant this attack; I have searched my brain and I don’t think I have done anything wrong today.
It’s week six of the lockdown and I have yet to leave the house. I’m not shielding or self-isolating but I have been told that I mustn’t go out. I don’t need my daily exercise I am told because there’s no reason to look good at the moment. ‘No one’s gonna see that bikini bod this year, Love’ he sneers at me regularly. I want to tell him that I don’t exercise for anyone else but me. Running through fields alone allows me some partial freedom but it’s not worth the argument. ‘You just want others to look at you I am told.’ It’s not true: I would happily disappear in an instant.
It wasn’t always like this, I promise. I met Mike online. He had recently moved to the area having left his wife and two children. Alarm bells should have started ringing as soon as he told me that. He had very little contact with his ex-wife. But he wooed me, he really did. He wore suits to work, he took pride in his appearance, he opened doors for me and brought me flowers. He brought me flowers the day after he shoved me into a wall after I suggested he gave the pub quiz a miss because we were a little short on funds that month.
Six weeks without seeing my friends or family. Six weeks of very little exercise or fresh air. Six weeks of very little self care and I was a mess. My skin greyed and my eye bags looked like they could carry a week’s worth of shopping. My hair hung limp at my shoulders and my eyes were like windows to a black hole. I needed some sun. My doctor once told me I me had a vitamin D deficiency and provided me with ‘pocket sunshine’ he called it. But the vitamin tablets had long since gone. It was, however, going to be a scorcher today, so I decided to go any sit in the garden for an hour.
I must have fallen asleep. I was roused awake by a dark shadow blocking the sun and I could sense him beneath my closed eyelids.
“Two hours!” he said quietly but there was a sternness to it. “You’ve been sat out here on your fat arse for two hours doing f*ck all.”
I remained silent.
“Do you know what I have done?” He voice sounded low and guttural almost like it hurt to talk.
I shook my head slowly.
“A workout, a shower, a conference call and the weekly shop and you have done nothing. Lockdown has made you lazy. It’s made you fat and lazy.”
“I would have done the shop,” I protested. “But you said there was no need for us both to be out of the house.”
It was too late. He had disappeared into the house and all I could hear was the slamming of cupboards as he looked for something hard to drink. Precariously packing up the sun lounger, I returned it to the shed and walked inside. The kitchen was empty and so was the living room. I noticed a piece of paper with numbers and workings out written down in pencil; I then noticed the broken pencil next to the paper. Something had happened during the conference call. I heard a bang upstairs. Slowly, I took the first stair.
I found Mike in our bedroom rifling through our bedside drawers.
“Where is it?”
“Where’s what?” I asked.
“Your bank book.”
I explained that it was in the attic along with a few other precious items I kept up there.
“Well, it’s no good up there is it? Go get it!”
“You’re gonna have to start contributing a little more. The company have gone into administration and I’m out of a job.”
My heart sank.
“My dad left me that money in his will, Mike. It’s not to be frittered away. I’m saving it; I’m saving it for our future.”
That was a lie. I was saving it to escape. Every month I had added to it and I had been just about ready to leave when lockdown happened. And now, like an animal backed into a corner, I was trapped. If he saw that the funds had grown a lot over the last year, I would be in trouble.
“The future is now. Go get it!”
It took all my strength but I refused. I shook my head and took a step away from him. His stride covered the room in an instant and his hands were round my neck. Grasping for air, I panicked and kicked out. It was a glorious kick, right on the money. His grip released as he reached down to hug his crotch. I ran into the spare bedroom. In the other room, I heard him splutter and clear his throat; he was righting himself and he was coming for me. His eyes burned as he marched through the door almost knocking out from its hinges. Once again, he grabbed me but this time his nails dug deep into the flesh of my shoulder.
“You’ll go into that attic and you’ll get that bank book. Do you hear? Otherwise you’ll spend the night locked up there on your own.”
I thought of my dad. Physical grief washed over me. He would be so disappointed in me and the woman I’d become. A submissive mouse rather than the lioness he wanted me to be. I had crawled back into my den the moment I had prematurely lost the only man in my life I had had ever truly loved. I wasn’t going to lose his final gift to me. I stood firm and shook my head once again.
That was when he hit me. The whack resounded off the four walls and reverberated around my head. Blood spots and stars filled my vision as my legs gave out beneath me. I slumped to the floor as a trickle of blood fell from my nose and landed like a stray tear on the cream carpet. I looked up and he stood over me with his fists clenched.
“I’ll go get it myself.”
He stormed off and slammed the door shut and here I am now with my four walls for comfort. I won’t see him again tonight. Not until he comes and drags me up into the attic. I want him dead. Leaving him is no longer enough. I look to my arms and see yellowing bruises. He didn’t want me to leave the house because it meant he didn’t have to be careful anymore. No need for him to plan where abouts on my body he could hit me. I was his canvas now: a canvas filled with purples, reds, faded greens and yellows.
I want him dead.
Silence fills the room.
I will it. Pray for it.
Outside the room I hear the attic ladder being pulled from the ceiling.
More silence follows.
A splutter escapes his throat as he puts the ladder in place. I hear the creak escape from the metal step as he puts his weight onto it.
I wish him death.
Still more silence. Why isn’t he ascending the steps?
Suddenly, the hallway erupts with a God awful sound.
He’s having a coughing fit and is struggling to catch his breath.