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That’s All (non-fiction)

August 15, 2015

THAT’S ALL

Paul Beech

Midnight, silence, frost glistening under the moon.  He slows for the junction at the top of the hill.

As if from nowhere, a woman lurches into the road.  There is something very wrong with her.  She is barefoot, wearing only a thin pink dress, near collapse.  Her face is contorted in a way he has never seen before, eyes desperate in his headlights.

He gets out.  She is shaking and wailing in extreme distress, pleading for help.

Somehow he gets her into the car.  “Have you done something?” he asks, meaning to herself.

“Done something?  Done something?  I’ve been beaten, that’s all.”

Upon arrival at the infirmary, porters help her into a wheelchair.  And for the first time he notices the hideous black bruising to her legs.

“What will people think?” she says.  “I’ve been beaten, that’s all…that’s all…”

***

Many years on, retired now, he is haunted still by the look in her eyes, and her words…those words.  He became a social housing manager and the work he always loved best was helping the homeless, especially victims of domestic violence.

Of course that young man was me.

~~

Copyright © Paul Beech 2015

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4 Comments
  1. Wow Paul. I can understand why that would haunt you forever, now it’s going to haunt me. Did you ever inquire about her later on? I hope so, please let me know if you did.

    Hope all is well with you and yours. I miss our chats :o)…..

    Regards,

    Patricia

    • Hi Pat,

      I waited outside the Examination Room at the Infirmary and was interviewed firstly by a uniformed police officer then by a pair of CID officers. They took charge and I continued home. I still lived with my parents back then, nearly half a century ago.

      The woman, a complete stranger, was in a dreadful state and did not give me her name. At no point was I given her name by anyone. But never have I stopped wondering what became of her… how could I? I’m just thankful that in my long career I was able to help many other women who’d suffered violence as she had.

      I’m fine, now living with Maureen in North Wales, and yesterday (Saturday) had the strange experience of listening to myself reading poetry on the radio for the very first time. Maureen and I, along with other poets, performed at the Wirral Festival of Firsts last month, and those of us in the Chester Poets lounge were recorded by Vintage Radio for their regular Poetry Roundup. Yesterday’s programme was the third featuring readings from the Festival; Maureen was in the first. My reading lasted the full eight minutes allowed, as did most.

      Hope all is well with you Stateside.

      Yours,

      Paul

  2. This has got to be one of the most moving and wonderfully written (and in this case a true story). I am so proud of you Paul.

    from,

    Maureen x

    • Maureen, I’m touched by your comment. That chance encounter opened my eyes to the horror of domestic violence. Later, in social housing, I met many other victims needing help and did my best. Never will I forget those desperate eyes in my headlights…

      Thank you,

      Paul x

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