…AS soon as she stepped into the church, she knew she had made the right decision. Only that today, the organs stood still waiting for someone to play them. She sighed and a tear escaped from the corner of her eye, a weak and helpless tear. Oh, she was tired! Tired of everything, everyone. It felt like she was trapped in a cage that grew smaller and smaller each time she tried to escape, there was a dull ache gnawing at her and her heart heavily sat in her chest.
Priscilla hurriedly wiped her eyes and looked at the direction of the warm voice that pierced through her troubled thoughts. It was the deacon woman again.
She sat beside her, uninvited and looking concerned, it made Priscilla feel irritable that she caught her crying.
“What’s wrong? Each time I see you, you look into the air so deep in your thoughts. You didn’t even hear when I approached you.”
She sat staring at the elderly woman as she spoke, with concern written all over her face. Priscilla could not speak. Even if she wanted to, there was a lump caught in her throat from the sadness.
“Tell me dear, I’m a mother too so I might know what’s on your mind. How do they say it? A problem shared is a problem half solved.”
She remembered the last time someone said that to her. Richard. Tears threatened to fall again which she desperately held back.
“Talk to me dear. I might be able to give you some advice”; the deacon held her hand in a motherly way, the small kind gesture made a tiny pearl of tear fall. It had been so long since someone had been kind to her; it had been so long since her own mother had been kind to her. “Don’t worry everything you say is in confidence.”
She found that she wanted to talk to this woman whose kind gesture had touched her heart. Priscilla smiled a little at her, still a bit unsure of whether to talk or not but she desperately needed advice. She wanted to talk to someone, someone who cared to listen.
“Please my dear”, her eyes were drawn to the wedding band that sat on her left finger “Is it about your marriage?”
She nodded still unable to speak.
“Talk to me dear, don’t be afraid. I won’t judge you or interrupt; I can understand how you feel. I was once in this boat too.”
She looked at the deacon through blurry eyes.
“Yes” she said, “Everyone has a cross or two to bear but I learnt fast that it isn’t what life throws at you that matters but how you react to it. You can choose to make a flower from it or a trap; it depends on your thoughts and actions dear.”
“Priscilla.” she told the woman her name and smiled calmly.
“Priscilla” she replied as though trying not to forget ‘My name is Bridget”
“Do you want us to go to my office?”
“No, I’m fine here. In fact” she sat up “I think I should leave now but thanks.”
A hand held unto hers fast “No dear please let’s talk. I’m sure I can help if you let me”.
Priscilla scoffed replied, frustrated.“No one can help”
“That’s a lie, that’s what the devil told you. There’s always a way to solve every puzzle”
She rolled her eyes at Bridget’s confident statement
“Please stay at least, let me talk to you.”
By some spell, Priscilla found herself sitting again and looking at Bridget, though she was skeptical something made Priscilla wants to stay, interestingly.
“I got married at 19, it was an arranged marriage. Then, a girl did not have a say in what happened to her in my place. I was to sit at home, have children and cook food while my husband went to work. He was a teacher then”, Bridget stared into the distance remembering her youth. “He was also a very hot tempered man; I remember once or twice when he hit me with a stick, I was in the hospital for over a month and I was so scared of going back home because he was the one supporting my family” she sighed distantly and lifted up her skirt a little above her knees. A delicate finger traced a slightly visible scar on her kneecap.
Priscilla gasped in surprise; it was real. The story was real; it removed what was left of the doubts that plagued her mind and for the first time, Priscilla felt pity for another woman, what she must have suffered and with no one to turn to. Bridget laughed when she saw her expression.
“Don’t worry, the story isn’t over yet but then I felt like it was the end of the world for me. My life was over. I wanted to die. In fact I was already a walking corpse: I had no one to turn to and my father was adamant that I remain in a marriage even though my life was being threatened but I’d forever be thankful to my mother. She was the only one not in support of the marriage though she could not speak out to my father because he too was a scary man”
“Your mother was not in support of it?” Priscilla found herself asking absorbed in the story.
Bridget nodded firmly and seeing the expression on her face, she guessed, “I take it your mother is in support?” Bridget asked carefully.
Priscilla nodded unwilling to speak on it further. Thankfully Bridget continued.“When my third child was born after seven years, and as soon as my father’s funeral was over, I decided I couldn’t take the beating anymore, I sent a letter to my mother that I was coming home with my children. To my surprise, she sent a letter back saying I should stay in my husband’s house.”
“Why?” she asked puzzled
“I asked myself that question, I even thought she had betrayed me by giving me up to this cruel man but she told me something written in one of her letters” Mrs Bridget sneezed as she spoke. “What have I done to make the marriage work?” she wiped her hands on her skirt. “The next week, she was in my house with her portmanteau but that didn’t stop my husband from beating me and all she could do was beg.”
“She should have let you go home to her,” Priscilla said in distaste.
“That was what I said too, but she made me realize that until I tried all the options available to me before I would decide what was best. You know what she said the solution was. Love”
Priscilla scoffed “Love?”
“Yes, love. She said it was that simple, she asked if I tried to love him. We fought about it. In fact, I threatened to send her packing if she said only that but she was adamant that if I loved my children I would work on the marriage. I’m not in support of domestic violence but that was her understanding at that time.”
“You could still leave him, that didn’t mean you don’t love your children” Priscilla replied adamantly
“Yes but that is the problem nowadays. In my youth, divorce was not the first option when couples had a fight. Now it’s quicker to suggest divorce than trying, actually trying to fix a marriage” she shook her head sadly “That is the problem I have with this generation.”
Priscilla expelled a breath “There’s no other way out”
“Have you tried everything? Have you tried loving your husband? You would be surprised how far simple acts of kindness can go. It may take a while and I can’t promise love but your husband will grow to notice you, he grew to respect me at least and it kept us for almost 30 years.”
She nodded “He ended up filing a divorce though. I knew I would leave because there were so many things I hadn’t done then and so we had to do it but he still respects me and though I may never decide whether I love my husband or not , I still respect him. ”
Priscilla got up after a minute, somehow Bridget’s words seeped into her mind “How could I learn to love my husband?”
“Just remember that simple acts of kindness go a long way”, she held her hand. “Please feel free to come over and talk to me.”
“I’ll try”, Priscilla’s voice sounded skeptical even in her own ears.
“My office is just above the podium,” Bridget pointed to the window above the organs and she nodded.
“Thank you” she replied. There was a lot to think about, how she could learn to love a husband that did not even want to be loved. As she stepped out of the building, her mind kept circling around these questions.
Even when she stepped into her house, she could not ignore the questions…or the story Deaconess Bridget told her. Her case was more or less like the deaconess’s and yet Priscilla felt like this was the end of the world for her but she was sure she was tired. Even though she had not tried the option that presented itself to her, she knew this was not the best place for her life. If she chose her way, then she would lose everything: her mother, her husband. She was scared to be alone. Afraid she would not make it. What would she lose if she chose this woman’s method? Nothing. The same way she might gain nothing, but if she achieved her mother’s aim she would gain everything and even please her mother.
“What about Richard?” a little voice in Priscilla’s head chided as she climbed on top of her bed: a guilty feeling washed over her. What about him? Her mind was blank; she had no answer to that question though she knew that if she dug deeper, her answer would not be farfetched.
Her eyes were drawn to the place where Tunde occupied in the nights and her heart skipped a beat as she remembered what it felt like to be in his arms, it was so long ago that she had almost forgotten. She made her decision; she knew what she had to do.
Safe Haven Episode 9 continues HERE
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