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Strike!

Quitting is not an Option, Neither Quitting is a Choice

By

A. McNamara


Strike

Copyright2017byA.McNamara

All Rights Reserved

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase additional copy for each recipient. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


Contents


April, 2005- Exeter, Devon, England

June, 2000, Banbury, Oxfordshire

Contemplate

Unexpected Guest

Godmother

July, 2000- To London

July, 2004- Trauma

After the Court Hearing

June 1995, Surrey, England

New Baby Arrival

Too Much to Bear

Confession

1996-Dark Secret Reveal

Can Marriage Be Saved?

Unexpected Pregnancy

Accident on the Night

I Want You to Go

Life Alone

December, 2010- Shocking Call

Searching for Opportunities

2013- Relocation to Devon

Devilish Thought

Dare to be a Writer

Mother And Daughter

Car Camping

Binary Stock Trading

Light at the End of the Tunnel

To the Readers

About the Author-

April 2005- Exeter, Devon, England

A fifth of April 2005- late Tuesday morning- it is a bright, breezy day in Exeter City, West Country.

At the Crown Court main entrance, a grief-stricken woman bursts out the door. She is gasping for air. She is trembling. She is absent-minded. Squeezed face! She groans in silent.

At once, people occupied smoking cigarettes outside the building turn their heads. They look at her, up and down.

Her face turns to the people and looks at them one by one. She dares to make an eye contact with anyone of them, but they all turn their eyes away, ignoring her distressed appearance.

Deep inside, she is desperate to talk to anybody that can give her at least a little comfort, but nobody bats an eye at her anymore. All are minding their own business. She looks away then.

Under a beautiful sky, her eyes wander. She just wants to scream at the top of her voice. She wants her burning pains, sorrows and all ill- feelings inside to go away! All must out! Nah! But she grips them all.

Her feet glued to the ground, eyes shut and listening to the words playing on her mind: Unethical! A scandal! Embarrassing!

Yeah! You are right! You cannot yell here at the very top of your voice. Certainly not! You will draw unwanted attention. They may have thought you are losing your mind and you need medical treatment.

Hey? She knows it well! That is why she holds her feelings tight in the eyes of the people.

The truth is, she feels like a dagger pierces through her heart. It feels as if her body and soul are falling apart.

She holds her tears and forces herself to find a way out, to soothe her feelings, at least a little.

Her chin tilts up to the sky to whisper a prayer to the universe. Eyes open and close begging God a miracle and mercy. “Please God, give me the strength to go on.” Help me please!”

All of a sudden, a thick-bright cumulus cloud comes to her view, but she can no longer see the beauty of it provide.

She catches up another deep-long breath, and it follows a slow motion of eyelashes blink before she looks down to the ground.

There and then, her eyes meet limitless, gleaming streaks of lights reflection on objects and living things. Dazzling! It makes her eyelashes squint but not very long.

An irresistible seduction from a short distance catches her attention. See! Vibrant flowers bloom. They smile, twerk and play under the sun. Look… bountiful bees and butterflies seduce and flirt to each petal. They buzz about and fly about inhale its aroma.

From a short distance, a sight of glittery baby leaves, all in action. Nothing keeps still looking at them.

The beauty of nature beguiles her.

She sighs. Her chest moves up and down.

Nature gives her happy vibes and as if it is telling her, ‘There is a tomorrow for everyone.’ Yes!

But, there is nothing else around that can console this woman to lessen harrowing pains she was feeling inside.

She feels everything is meaningless and ugly!

Numb and unaware, her tears dripping across her face and fall away down to her chest.

She shrugs her shoulders; her fingers comb her medium-length- black hair and hands ironing her printed, colourful dress. Then, a back of her hand wipes away her tears.

This little preening makes her demeanour composed and presentable at the eyes of the people.

“I will get through this! I am a survivor!” says this mother of two in a low throaty tone.

Her name is Megan, in her early forties.

Megan shakes her upper body. Her feet show an aimless walk on the way to her car parked across the road of Exeter Crown Court building.

She stops right at the traffic light finger tapping a stop button. She draws a deep breath again. Resolute! Stood right there waiting for the light to turn green, Megan does not care the dangers from motorists driving past her. Suicidal!

Poor thing, Megan! Her inner seething emotion is about to explode.

In silence, she heaves another long breath, before her hand crawls to her tightening chest, rubbing it.

Unbearable sadness overwhelms her. It is too much to bear.

Megan thought - even if she does run amok in the street of Exeter City, nobody will bloody care about her!

Exeter Crown Court is one of the parts of Megan’s sensational life story, to begin.

A few hours ago, Megan attended a Residence Order filed by her parents-in-law against her.

This Residence order stops Megan from getting her kids back from them before they reach the age of sixteen.

Unbeknownst to Megan, her former parents-in-law had concocted a strategy.

It was a shock for Megan when she received a Residence Order case against her. She does not see it coming at all.

In fact, Megan sends £400 to her former mother-in-law every month, payment for looking after her kids.

In the courtroom scene in one of the pews, her ex-husband and former parents-in-law sat together, whispering to one another. They look like a harmonious family.

It is awful for Megan to see them so happy together. It knocks her self-esteem, as she has not got family support at all.

Alone, sitting in a pew, a few yards away from them, Megan has no one to talk to, except her lawyer, whose only interest is to discuss the case against her. Nothing more. This scenario makes her feel unloved, empty and abandoned.

Megan avoids looking at them; but no matter how hard she tries to dismiss their presence in the courtroom, she cannot help feeling self-pity.

Yeah! Looking back, it comes to light, her former mother-in-law’s intention.

The grandmother of her kids told Megan that she could go back to work, and she is prepared to look after her children.

Megan never thought that her former parents-in-law would drag her to court some day. She trusted them to care for her two young kids.

Megan had no inkling that they are capable of betraying her and twisting words against her.

Grandparents spread the false accusation that Megan had abandoned her kids to them. They told everyone that it was them who did sacrifice to care for their grandchildren.

This gossip is enough to soar Megan’s blood pressure high. And so to make her teeth clench every time Megan recalls this rumour, portraying her as a neglectful mother.

No wonder, Megan cannot stop regretting trusting her former mother-in-law to look after her kids.

Get a grip! Move on!

Hmm… Is it easy to say to someone to move on in life? No!

It is difficult to comprehend how difficult it can be to be alone in a country with no immediate family support: A solo flight like Megan.

After the hearing, Megan’s solicitor disappears, in a hurry to attend another client.

Megan crawls out of the building, feeling a heartbroken woman.

Nobody knew how tired and exhausted Megan was. She left in the early hours in the morning, drove two- hundred and twenty miles distance from London to Exeter Crown Court building in Devon, West Country, England. It is a hell lot of long driving!

Imagine that! Not even she has gotten a chance to get a glimpse of her kids? Tellingly, how terrible it can be for a mother. Then, seeing her former parents-in-law and ex-husband supporting to one another in the courtroom. It is enough to destroy one’s confidence. Isn’t it? Yes!

Megan cannot help but blames herself for trusting her ex-mother-in-law a hundred percent. Megan thought she made a big mistake.

“Why I had no inkling about their intention? Am I stupid?” Megan asks herself.

Megan had no idea that her former parents-in-law want her out of her kids’ life. They are obsessed with their grandchildren.

Back then years ago, Megan was so convinced that her ex-mother-in-law is very kind enough to be willing to care for her kids so she could go back to work.

Megan never doubts about the sincerity of her ex-parents-in-law. So, Megan snaps the offered service from her ex-mother-in-law.

Megan thought it is an opportunity for her to rebuild a broken life after a divorce. She wants to get a decent job, and once her financial situation is secure, she wants to get her children back.

Megan has no intention to leave her kids under the care of their grandparents in Surrey, England for good.

Anyhow, Megan sees them as often as she wants when she is off work. Grandparents’ house in Surrey is twenty miles away from London; it is very convenient to see her kids every week.

Way back in 2003, one afternoon, there is a surprise for Megan. She receives a call from her kids telling her that they were no longer living in Surrey. Grandparents and her kids moved to Devon, West Country.

Their sudden move has left Megan unprepared.

How could Megan see her kids every week? It is impossible for Megan to see them often. Grandparents moved to a place that is two hundred fifty miles away from Megan in London.

Besides, Megan’s working long hours, as well as a long distance away from them it does hinder to see her kids regularly. Megan ends up visiting her kids every two months or more.

This unexpected relocation of her kids and them makes Megan very sad.

Anyhow, Megan thought it would not be too long; she will get her kids back soon.


So here it is, Megan’s wrong decision of leaving her kids under the care of their grandparents, she ends up at Exeter Crown Court to face the law.

Deep down, Megan loses interest to attend a hearing, as it makes her feel so down. It is not a story of life Megan wants to unfold- fighting in the courtroom with her in-laws.

Back to the traffic light-

Lights change to green at the traffic light. Megan bolts across the pedestrian crossing. Relentless sniffling as she reaches her car. Then, her tears flood across her cheeks and pour down to her chest.

Megan cannot stop thinking about her kids. It is hard. Her life revolves around her kids.

Megan howls. Uncontrollable.

Stooping down and hands press against the driver’s window. Megan feels she is weeping forever!

Hurriedly, Megan pulls her car key out from her bag and thrusts it through a keyhole. Then, one hand snaps the door. At once, her bottom slumps on the driver’s seat and arms leaning against the steering wheel. Her eyes glare ahead and thinking about life. Questioning her self, “Why everything goes wrong? And why…why…why…?”

Megan cannot find a right answer.

She is adamant to accept defeat, despite feeling it.

Megan could no longer hear noises from people and vehicles going past her car.

Half an hour later, Megan is still in a trance, until her fingers move turning a car key clockwise. The engine kicks in that make Megan jolts.

For the first time, Megan’s head swivels to the left and the right, checking at both side mirror wings. Then, she tilts her chin up to see her face in the front mirror.

In an instant, sights of her ex-parents-in-laws and her ex-husband appear in the view. They walk up, heading towards Megan’s car. They look as if they are in deep conversation, as they walk side by side, smiling to one another.

Catching their images pricks Megan’s inner flesh. Displeased.

Megan cannot bear seeing them so happy together while she enveloped with grief and emptiness. Megan turns her eyes away from them, but she cannot resist snooping. Her eyes sweep back until their sights fade away.

It seems a little relief for Megan when they are no longer in the scene.

Megan draws a deep breath listening to her breathing, while her eyes wander across the atmosphere.

Straightening up her shoulders, wriggling her bottom for a few minutes, Megan cannot stop contemplating about life.

Then, yesteryears events flash to the present- fresh and so raw.



June 2000, Banbury, Oxfordshire


Saturday afternoon, after lunch, Megan and her kids watch BBC one o’clock news in the living room. All of a sudden, they hear someone knocking on the door. It makes Megan's kids excited.

Grandma arrives to collect her grandchildren for a weekend stay.

“I think it is Grandma!” kids chorus.

Megan’s daughter runs to the stairs down to the door in the ground floor immediately pressing her ears against the wall.

“Who is it?” she says in a high-pitch tone, rolling her eyes.

“Grandma is here!” a soft voice from outside the door.

Megan's daughter looks up to the stairs, shouting, “Mummy! Grandma is here!”

Her little brother jumps. He too dashes to the stairs, yelling, “Grandma is here! Grandma is here!”

“Yes, Grandma is here,” daughter says, turning her head towards her brother. Soon, the two kids start running around with joy.

Megan’s little girl grips a key stuck in the keyhole. First, she struggles turning it clockwise, but after a few attempts, she makes it, and a door opens wide, meeting a big smile from their grandma.

Kids ambush their grandmother with tight cuddles. They squeeze her hands and dragging her inside the flat.

They all stand in the doorway facing at a short staircase going up to the first floor; they look up to Megan who stood on the foot of the stairs in the sitting room.

Megan was looking down at them. Their eyes meet for a few seconds before granny cocks her head to one side.

Granny’s eyes look adoringly at her grandchildren squeezed by her sides and gripping her hands.

“Anyone wants a drink?” says Megan in a low tone, sweeping her eyes down on the ground floor.

Nobody hears Megan. Her two young kids are so noisy, non-stop talking to their grandma. They were engrossed in conversation.

One hour later, Megan’s two young kids, her son, William just turned three and daughter, Charlotte just turned four are helping Megan packing their suitcases that they need for a weekend stay at their grandparents’ house in Surrey.

While they are busy, Grandma walks about around the flat, examining everything.

Grandma looks at Megan kneeling on the floor in the bedroom with her kids around her; all occupied folding clothes they need to bring to their grandparents' house.

Granny creeps behind Megan’s back. Her eyes were running across her former daughter-in-law. Grandma is busy thinking the right words to say to Megan. Granny’s lips open and shut, so it seems she wants to speak to Megan, but unable to do so.

A little while, Megan has noticed a presence of her former mother-in-law in the room.

“Are you okay? Would you like to drink a cup of tea?” says Megan, hands zipping two little suitcases packed with kids’ belongings.

“No, I am fine…but…” says grandmother in a tone of hesitation.

Megan rises from the floor, hands ironing her blouse, while her eyes look straight at her ex-mother-in-law.

“But what…do you mean by that?” says Megan, in a tone of concern.

Granny steps a few inches closer to Megan. Their eyes meet a few seconds.

“Megan, I am happy to look after your kids, and you can go back to work if you like.”

“Can you manage to look after my kids?”

“Of course, yes! They go to school. Do not worry I will be fine looking after them,” says grandmother, eyes twinkling.

“I have to think about it over the weekend.”

Megan turns and bursts out of the room with two suitcases held in her hands. Megan dashes to the ground floor and soon drop two small travel bags by the door.

“Sure. Think about it,” grandmother’s voice explodes.

Since then, Megan is thinking about a possibility of going back to work full-time.

Two- small- loaded suitcases sat at the corner of the wall near the doorway, a yard away from granny’s feet standing between two kids that gripped her hands. All faces turn to Megan; their eyes fixed for a few seconds before grandmother diverts her eyes to the kids.

“Are you ready to go… children?” says grandmother with a little giggle and sparkling eyes.

“Yes, Grandma!” they chorus and glance at their mother.

Megan winks at them with a smile before snatching up two suitcases from the floor.

“Okay, let us go to your granny’s car,” says Megan as she twists the doorknob and pushes the door wall to one side. Megan is letting them out of the flat first.

Grandma tilts her chin down, eyes flashing between her two grandchildren whose hands clutched hers; they all watch Megan dropping suitcases next to their feet outside the flat before she locks the door.

Grandma is beaming, showing a gap between her front upper teeth.

“Are you ready, kiddies?” says Grandma, sweeping her eyes between them.

“Yes!” kids shout with gales of giggles. Their innocent eyes stare at their mother for a few seconds, before diverting their attention back to their granny.

“Alright, everyone is ready,” says Megan, hauling up the two suitcases from the floor before walking ahead of them.

They all follow Megan on the way down to the spiral staircase leaving out the building.

Descending the long staircase, Megan’s daughter starts telling grandma about a safe route to go home and to go out the building.

Charlotte’s innocent eyes twinkle while chatting to her granny.

“We do not take the elevator...Grandma," utters Charlotte, then, she pauses, "It is so dangerous there,” she added before thumping her feet.

Grandma says nothing but just grinning. Little William is too young to bother about the danger in the building; he was merrily humming, rather than minding his older sister talking too much until they all reach their granny’s old, red Volvo car parked at the back of the building.

Residents peer out the doors and windows as they all gather close to granny’s car. They all stood to face at each other for twenty seconds before grandmother turns around and bends to unlock her car.

As soon as the car keyhole clicks, the two kiddies pull the passenger’s door and leap inside.

“Be good to Grandma,” says Megan before pacing to the booth of granny’s car.

“Yes, Mummy,” they shriek putting their seatbelts on.

Seated on and hands rested against the steering wheel, granny cocks her head to the right. Eyes look sideways for a minute. Then, grandma looks at the front mirror to spy Megan locking the booth. Done!

Megan sprints and peers through the passenger’s window. Her kids unbuckle their seatbelts and lean towards their mother.

Kids wave their hands at their mother.

“Remember what Mummy said to you…kids. Be good,” says Megan, reminding her children for the last time before they go.

They both stare at their mother before their mouths open.

“We heard that a million times! You can say something else, Mummy,” they chorus.

Megan’s kids do not want their mother to repeat things. Megan has a habit of saying, ‘Be good,’ to her kids.

They look away from their mother for a few seconds, before returning their eyes to her.

In an instant, granny leaps out.

“I forgot something. I have to cuddle you, Megan,” says granny with a little giggle.

“That is nice,” says Megan, smiling, before stepping closer to the driver’s door.

They hug for a few seconds, and soon the two kids leap out from the car. They embrace their mother again. They have a hugging session for a few minutes.

A little later, granny slips back to the driver’s seat and switches on the engine. Roar!

The two kids leap back inside. Then, they immediately put back their seatbelts on.

“Are you alright there… kiddies?” says granny in a high-pitch tone. The two kids nod their heads.

“I love you, Mummy,” they whisper to their mother.

“I love you loads, both of you.” Then, Megan steps backward and shuts the door.

Granny starts driving her car away, while Megan and her kids are too busy sending loads of flying kisses over the car window.

Shortly, granny’s car disappears.

Megan sighs. She is feeling a relief looking after her kids. At least Megan can chill out with her new friends living nearby. But instead of feeling happy without her kids around, emptiness wraps her heart, until her eyes swell.

Megan holds her tears. She hates whimpering and feeling self- pity.

Standing still, Megan stares at her own shadow. She thinks if it is a good idea to accept an offer from her ex-mother-in-law and so she can go back to work.

Megan is unsure if it is the right thing to do.

Megan had enough staring at her own shadow and had enough thinking about the offer from her ex-mother-in-law. Megan turns her face up. Her eyes dart everywhere.

Megan has noticed the busybody residents have all gone away. For a change, it is a quiet atmosphere. Megan looks down to the ground to see empty bottles, empty cans, used condoms and needles scattered everywhere.

Horrifying!



Contemplate

White towel wrapped around her head and body. Megan dashes out from the shower room. Her wet bare feet tiptoe to the kitchen. Megan is about to make a lemon ginger drink.

Ten minutes later, Megan lifts the cup. It is steaming. She ambles to the window. There, Megan is standing behind the curtain. Nobody can see her looking through the window. She is scrutinizing the people coming into and leaving out the building. It is her way of relaxing while making up a decision.

Right at this moment, Megan is still undecided if granny’s offer is worth a try.

Then, Megan thought, probably, it is best for her kids to live with their grandparents’ house just for a while until she can find a decent job in the City of London. Then, she will find an affordable private property to rent for her and her kids.

Well, this option seems far better than raising her kids in this building with many drug addicts.

However, Megan’s flat from the Council of Banbury is decent, cosy, and comfortable, but the issue is outside her flat.

The building is known for residents’ cocaine users, marijuana users, and other prohibited drugs. It had the worst reputation in the area of Banbury.

So far, this is Megan’s fourth flat, since her marriage broke down.

Megan had already occupied four properties from different Borough Councils in England, and all had various issues. And so, Megan couldn’t expect much. But, at least, Megan and her kids had a place to live.

However, Megan had enough moving around. She feels very unsettle.

Megan does not like instability. But all the things she does not like, Megan is getting them.

The first property Megan had with her kids was one big room in a six-bedroom terraced house in Aldershot, Surrey. Her accommodation is enough to accommodate them and their belongings.

Each room in the terraced house occupied with all sorts of tenants from three refugees in Eastern Europe, an ex-convict single mother with her blonde little girl, and a few weird looking men.

Every so often, a riot happens in the house. The cause of the fight is a jealousy conflict between three- boy refugees. This blonde lady with a blonde daughter is hopping from one bed to another. All three young boys become her lovers.

When this blonde lady had enough with one, she drops the boy like a hot potato and begins an amorous relationship with the next chap until violence explodes between them.

Megan had enough with these crazy residents fighting all the time at night. Also, she could not take a risk living there with her kids.

Megan reports the chaos to the Council. And so, a few months later, the Council relocates Megan to a studio flat with her kids.

Good. The second property is a bit better. Residents are quieter than the last.

After six months, the council moves Megan and her kids to a more spacious property. Megan and her kids got a two -bedroom flat at the back of the first floor of a building, just above the shop in Chobham High Street, Chobham, Surrey. It is Megan's third move.

At first, it looks like an inhabitable property, but the council employee promised that this is a permanent property for Megan, meaning this is her last move. So, Megan is pleased to know this is a permanent accommodation for her and her kids. Megan is so relieved.

It is so tiring for Megan moving from one place to another with two young kids.

Couldn’t imagine how exhausted you are Megan, with your two very young kids in tow?

Megan puts a lot effort to turn this filthy flat into an immaculate, and habitable property. She uses her savings to buy wallpapers and cork tiles for the floor. It takes several weeks doing up the whole flat when Megan’s kids are at the nursery for a few hours.

The outcome, her new flat looks very charming and homely.

It seems there is a bright future for Megan in this flat.

Council employee assured Megan that this is the last move, and it would be her permanent accommodation.

Megan hopes that she and her kids will settle here well.

They celebrated the millennium 2000 in this flat. Shortly,

Megan’s old few clients in Beauty therapy start contacting her for home service treatments. Megan has something to do when her kids are at the Nursery and over the weekend stay with their granny.

To supplement her beauty therapy treatment service, she sells long distance phone cards to friends and residents living in the building.

Desperate to earn a living, every other Saturday at four o’clock in the morning, Megan wraps her two young kids comfy at the backseats. They are off to East London Billingsgate Fish Market. Megan buys boxes of fish to sell to residents in the building and her friends.

Everything seems to be sailing smoothly in Megan’s life and her kids in this flat, but until, six months later, a Council employee calls Megan. It is awful news for her! Council employee is telling Megan that they will move again to another property. Megan is horrified. She could not believe it. She spent her own money making this flat very clean and liveable!

Shame on you! And now, you are telling Megan this is temporary! What happened to that permanent assurance from you?

Even the Council employee is not very honest at all. Megan could not believe this Council employee could have lied to her.

Megan is stunned. Heartbroken. Her lips tremble, and tears build in the corner of her eyes. Megan rants over the phone, telling the Council employee for not being honest with her.

Megan receives another assurance from the Surrey Council employee that she will get a permanent property.

Nonsense! Megan puts the phone down. The Council employee rings back to Megan, but she refuses to entertain calls from them.

Megan is upset. She cannot stop her tears falling. Her tearful appearance catches attention from her kids happily playing in the room. Charlotte grabs her mother’s hand.

“Mummy, who makes you upset? Did Daddy make you upset?” says Charlotte, a trembling voice and tears welling in her eyes.

William appears but very quiet. He crawls and squeezes his body against Megan’s side, staring at his mother’s face.

“No, Charlotte, not your Daddy.”

“Who did then, Mummy?”

“Just silly people.”

Megan avoids crying in front of her kids. She wipes her tears and composes herself. Though deep down, she is tearing apart.

“Why are these terrible things happening to me?” Megan talks to herself. Many questions boiling in her mind that almost all of them she could not figure it out.

“Why…. so many unfavourable things happening to my life,” says Megan, her tears drip across her face.

Frustrations and sadness overwhelm Megan. She loses interest to look at happy photos of people in the magazines, such as `Hello,’ and so on.

Megan could no longer understand why they seem so happy. Why these celebrities, famous, and rich people had almost everything in life? But she was struggling with almost anything! Megan feels this way. It goes on for a while.

A day after this incident with this Surrey Council employee, Megan’s ex-husband turns up at late afternoon to see the kids. Megan was expecting he would collect the kids for a weekend to give her time for herself. He tells Megan that he is unable to look after the kids, as he had the arrangement to meet up his best mate. Oh, this adds up to Megan’s fury. Her ex-husband is not willing to care for their kids over the weekend.

“Right, if you do not want to look after the kids, you are out,” Megan rants. Her voice is full of anger at him. Instead of calming Megan down, he too is in a bad mood.

He snatches Megan’s shoulder, and his other hand grabs the back of Megan’s neck. Then, he pushes Megan’s head down to the sink, where she stood washing the dishes. It lasts a few seconds.

Right after, ex-husband walks out the flat, leaving the kids playing in the living room. Thanks. Charlotte and William did not see how cruel their daddy was.

Megan continues washing the dishes. She cannot stop her tears pouring out, eyes staring out at the field over the window.

At night soaked with dreadful misery, Megan just wants to go away and find a place to be happy and be settled.

Watching her kids asleep, Megan is sighing with relief. She thinks that, that at least her kids are healthy and happy. Then, Megan asks herself, “When will I be happy and find peace and contentment?”

A little while, she gets up and walks to the kitchen to get some drink. At once, her landline telephone starts ringing. Instead of fetching a glass of water, Megan lifts the phone. It is her friend from Banbury, Oxfordshire.

Megan’s friend is inviting her and her kids to come over for a weekend. Talking to her friend, it eases Megan’s worst feeling about life in general. Her friend suggested to Megan to move to Banbury. Convincing Megan that she is willing to accommodate her and her kids while getting a property from the Council.

Yeah. An encouragement from a friend does give Megan a hope to start a new life outside Surrey.

Sipping tea by the window behind the curtain, Megan is still weighing what is best for her kids. All those things that happened in the past urge Megan decide to accept the offered help from her former mother-in-law.

Her ex-parents-in-law had four- bedroom house with huge, lush back garden in the desirable village of Byfleet, Surrey. Megan thought it is the ideal house for her kids to grow up. Lovely neighbourhood and close to all local amenities.

Megan makes her mind up. She picks up her teacup sitting on the windowsill and gulps the last drop.

Darkness is looming.

Megan sprints to the kitchen sink wash the dirty dishes and dry them up. Right after, Megan creeps to the door to double check the lock. Soon, she dashes back upstairs and disappears in the bedroom.

Unexpected Guest

At night, Megan hears the usual cries from a lady next door. Weird, high-pitch tone echoes in the building. Heavy footsteps from the outside corridor that stretched all the way down to the lifts in the building hear every night.

Despite incessant commotions outside her flat, Megan drifts to sleep. Megan is very tired.

At two o’clock in the morning, quietness prevails in the building. It is reassuring all residents were asleep but except broad-chested man. He is naked from waist to the top. He is only wearing jeans. This man comes out from nowhere in the building. He creeps to Megan’s flat, fist banging against the door, many times. His stamping at the door wakes Megan up from sleep.

Just wearing pyjamas, Megan jumps out the bed and runs to the stairs down to the main door.

Megan thinks there could be fire accident in the building and a Good Samaritan at the door is giving her alarm for safety.

But when her feet touch on the floor, right opposite the door linked to an enormous square- glass- window, a big surprise hits Megan. A bulky stranger is peering through a bare double glass-window right in front of her in the kitchen area. He is waving his hands at her. Their eyes fixed a second before his index finger points to the doorknob, gesturing to open it for him.

Horrified! Megan runs back upstairs and grabs a phone to call the police. Megan thought how on earth it’s happening when she is alone.

“Does this stranger watch my movements? And has he got knowledge that I am alone at home?”

Megan’s quivering fingers struggle to dial an emergency number 999, while a stranger continues hammering her door.

Megan is out of breath; her knees tremble; she cannot grip the phone right, almost dropping to the floor, as her whole body was shaking.

After a few rings, the voice of a man echoes over the phone. Frantic, Megan is shouting to the police that there was an uninvited visitor at the door.

“Tell us where you are, and we will be with you soon,” he says.

“Bretch Hill, Estate, Banbury, Flat 7, second floor.”

Chat ends.

Megan drops the phone back to its handset. She walks back and forth across the floor in the sitting room. The door knocking has stopped. But her fright hardly subsides. Disturbed. Scared.

She is peering out the window to check the police in the vicinity. No sign of police in the darkness of the night.

The stillness of trees on the ground and neon lights from a few street lampposts meet her eyes.

Her heart keeps thumping against the wall of her chest.

Ten minutes later, two policemen arrive, knocking on her door.

Instead of running straight to the door as she did earlier, Megan crawls this time. Halfway through stepping down to the stairway, two shadows of men in uniform have appeared on the kitchen floor. It gives Megan a feel of safety.

Still, out of breath, Megan turns the light on and opens the door.

‘Where did you see the man waving?’

‘Right there.’

One policeman is noting Megan’s statement while the other asks some questions.

‘Are you alone?’

‘Yes, I am. My kids were staying with their grandparents this weekend.’

‘Do you have a friend in the area? We can take you there.’

‘Yes, I have. I will take my car, can I?’

‘Yes, you can. We’ll follow you.’

The police officers stood outside the door waiting for Megan to pop out.

Megan collects a few belongings to bring to her friend’s house.

At the door, Policemen sweep their eyes across the corridor.

Exactly five minutes later, Megan appears with her few possessions. She shuts the door behind her, before turning her face to the police, standing a few inches away from her. Their eyes meet for a few seconds.

One officer is gesturing his finger to let Megan go first on the way out of the building.

As they all dash out, their footsteps dominate the serenity of the night.

In a minute, they all feel the earth decorated with used syringes and cigarette butts. A glint of gleaming lights comes from everywhere, streaming across the ground.

Police officers look up the building.

One police officer stood still for a few minutes more, while the other brisk away to the service car, leaving his buddy darting his eyes at the building.

Megan glances once at them before she sprints to her car.

Like the policemen, she too turns her head up to catch the last glimpse of her flat.

In a hurry, Megan slips into the driver’s seat, revs the engine and drives away.

The two police officers follow her until Megan reaches her friend’s house.

As soon as Megan slips inside the door, the police officers fade away in the dark.



Godmother

A clear sky, Sunday morning. Here is Megan creeping back home and feeling jumpy. Megan tries to dismiss fear lingering at the back of her mind. Right, as she enters her flat, Megan leans her back against the door. In a pensive mood, sweeping her eyes from floor to ceiling and down to the staircase.

A little later, Megan climbs up the stairs, eyes polishing at every wall in the flat.

The sunlight from the windows makes Megan’s flat look clinical, white, and bright. Good vibe for Megan, but she fails to feel it.

Megan thought she failed all her plan, a life she wanted to be. Her life is getting difficult. Megan thought all her dreams and wishes are evading her.

It seems fate and destiny are obviously detouring Megan from the worst routes before she reaches her final destination.

What would it be for Megan? Light has not shined yet on her side.

Megan sighs before kneeling on the floor. Her eyes run across storage boxes lined up neatly on the side of the bedroom.

Megan murmurs, “Here we go again, starting from scratch.”

At the bottom of her heart, Megan is tired of moving around places; but what happened last night made her decide to leave and move back to London. A city she had lived before for many years since she came to England from the Far East before she got married and relocated to Surrey to raise a family.

Megan leans to the storage boxes and starts opening all of them. She tips each container over to the floor, and her eyes scan every item. Then, Megan has spotted two used candles among her possessions. She frowns and breathes deeply. Right away, sadness etches in Megan’s face. Seeing these used candles reminds Megan of someone, a godmother of her children in Banbury- a primary teacher at a Catholic School.

Megan picks the two candles up, staring at them, giving a little sniff and kiss. Then she gently drops them to the souvenir box.

And so why do these candles make Megan sad?

When Megan just moved to the area of Banbury, she approached a local Catholic priest to have her kids baptized to Catholicism. Different belief between Megan and her former parents-in-laws delayed her kids to receive baptism to Catholicism. Grandparents and her ex-husband are Jehovah Witness.

Seeing these candles, it brings back the memory of Megan’s kids’ godmother- a Catholic devotee, well known in the area. The local priest recommended this churchgoer to be a godmother of Megan’s kids. Right.

Few days after the baptism, the godmother and the priest came to visit Megan and her kids. But godmother’s behaviour is a surprise. Godmother fails to show interest to know her kids or Megan.

Every time Megan and godmother are about to meet their eyes, godmother diverts her look somewhere else away from Megan.

Megan shrugs it off. “Perhaps, she is just tired,” says Megan to herself.

Looking back at the baptism ceremony, godmother was very accommodating and helpful and friendly. Now, godmother behaves oddly to Megan. How come? And why suddenly this godmother has changed?

Megan still tries to initiate a chat with her, but instead of responding to Megan, godmother says nothing.

The priest is helpful and kind. He tells Megan that if she needs help for her kids, Megan must not hesitate to call their godmother and him too.

While the priest is talking, godmother rolls her eyes. That is all she does best.

Isn’t this godmother so annoying? But godmother is good at scanning her eyes across the room. Godmother hardly smiles.

Since godmother arrived at Megan’s flat, godmother has not said a single word to Megan and her kids. She is a blatantly cold woman!

Then, Megan thought, perhaps, her kids’ godmother was not keen to be a godmother of her kids, but only forced to do so, when the priest asked a favour.

But you know why? Godmother behaves out of order; it is because Megan’s flat is in a very deprived building of Bretch Hill Estate of Banbury, Oxfordshire. It is easy to understand why godmother is aloof to Megan and her kids. Wouldn’t you agree?

If Megan and her kids were living in a desirable area of Banbury, this godmother would have treated Megan differently. Sure!

“That is life,” Megan says to herself.

Meeting this godmother is a mixture of disappointment and a blessing.

Megan believes a true Christian would not behave like that. That is why she requested a priest to find a kind person to stand as a godmother to her kids at the Baptism ceremony.

Even this, Megan got it wrong.

Sorry, Megan! Folks would feel very sorry for you.


July, 2000- To London

Determined to change the path of her destiny for the better, Megan surrenders her flat back to the Oxfordshire council. All her belongings gathered in the middle of the sitting room and ready for collection by Megan’s hired Man Van removal. Megan is bound to embark a new life in London.

It is late Sunday morning; Megan has just arrived at the door. She stayed overnight at her friend's house nearby because Megan could no longer sleep alone in the house since the uninvited stranger turned up at the door in the deep of the night. In haste, Megan pushes a key into the keyhole; it clicks before it opens wide, letting a morning cool breeze enters in every room. Stood at the edge of the door for a few minutes, just poking her head inside.

Her eyes meet a streak of lights, streaming across the floor in the kitchen. There is a feeling of a homecoming. It seems like a welcome energy telling Megan to stay, rather than giving up her home back to the Council.

Megan crawls inside, eyes darting at every nook before taking off her shoes. Her bare feet feel the coldness from the floor, sending her skin hair go wild and making her flesh shiver.

She closes the door, leaning her back against the wall, sighing deeply.

From then on, Megan misses her kids very badly. Megan misses their noise roaring in the room; now the home is so quiet and empty.

‘Megan, you are leaving soon, in just a few hours,’ a whisper from an unknown.

‘Yes!’ Megan answers.

Though Megan has lived in this flat less than a year, she feels an attachment to it. Megan did everything to make it lovely and presentable.

There is energy in the flat encouraging her to stay; however, there is a feeling of emptiness. Megan walks from one room to another to check nothing left behind.

She stood by the bedroom door for a couple of minutes, just feeling the room, while sweeping her eyes from floor to ceiling, and across the floor. Her mind can see the images of her kids sleeping there.

‘Megan, you have a very wild imagination,’ a whisper from the unknown source.

Megan’s eyes well again. She cannot help it. She turns her head away from the bedroom and leaps to the sitting room. Her eyes meet all boxes waiting for collection.

Megan dashes to the kitchen and about to make a mug of tea. She stares for a few seconds. No more kettle, cups, and packet of green tea sitting there. Megan forgets she packed them all away.

Cannot wait to leave, Megan calls her hired Man Van Removal.

“How long it will take you to arrive here? I am waiting.”

“Around half an hour.”

Exact, half an hour later, Man Van Removal arrives at the back of the building.

Like before, residents in the building watch Megan. Their heads poke out the windows, some are at the door, and others hide behind the curtains. Prying.

Megan's rental van's presence outside the building attracts busybody residents in the neighbourhood.

Man Van Removal clears all boxes from the flat. Once again, Megan walks from room to room still feeling the presence of her kids, their laughing, crying and doing naughtiness. When her feet land on the last part of the flat- the kitchen floor by the main door, Megan stops. Memories from yesterday appear in her thoughts- the image of a broad-chested man, smiling at her, hand waving and his index finger pointed to a doorknob to gesture Megan to open a door for him reappears in her mind. It makes her heart races high and banging against the wall of her chest.

“I do not want it to happen again. Horrible,” says Megan.

Her feet move closer to the door and Megan is about to walk out. But she stops. Her upper body turns back. Eyes scan at the staircase, and up to the sitting room upstairs, for the last time.

See! A tiny portion of a bright sky appears from the window. She gazes until a warm breeze envelops her body. Turning her eyes away and look back to the door. Megan stares at the edge of the doorway; it reminds Megan of some broken eggs stained on it.

Kids from the neighbourhood dropped eggs into Megan’s letterbox. It happened many times and could not find the culprits.

"Hmmm," sighs Megan, she jumps out the door and heads to her car.

“It is a new life, a new beginning, a new adventure. Oh, please God, bless me,” says Megan, eyes wander across the sky, begging for a good omen.

As she reaches her car and is about to slip inside, she stops, turning her face towards the Man Van Removal that is only a few yards away from her. Their eyes meet straight away, for a few seconds.

Megan stares at the second floor of the building, eyes fixed at her empty flat. She feels sad… leaving. Tears begin to build up in the corner of her eyes.

Then, for the last time, Megan flashes her eyes across residents, waving their hands. Megan raises her hand and smiles before she climbs into her car.

It follows engines roar at once. Megan pulls a deep breath before driving her car away from the building.

On the way to London, Megan is full of enthusiasm. She believes her struggles are over.

July, 2004- Trauma

Shattered, when Megan received a Residence Order Case against her.

It is not a good year for Megan. A few very traumatic events happen in her life.

One evening, Megan attended a friend’s party in Surrey.

She drives very late night back to London from Surrey.

As soon as her car drives past Kingston Overpass Bridge at midnight, a rock from unknown source smashes against the driver’s passenger side windscreen. It explodes like thunder lightning from the sky leaving no room for Megan to react. Terrified! Shaken!

She just continues to drive until she gets home.

The impact of this accident and the shock she got from her in-laws, Megan suffers depression.

One morning, she is about to go to work. As soon as she is out of the house, Megan can no longer understand why people bother to go to work? Why kids bother to go to school? Megan stares at the kids on the way to school, and the people were rushing around in the street.

She lost a zest for life. Megan just wants to sleep.

Good, Megan realizes that something is not right, why she is feeling lacklustre?

“I am not like this before?”

Megan gets scared.

A lady next door has noticed Megan's changes. Megan gets advice from her friendly neighbour telling Megan to join a gym, do Yoga and meditation.

One of Megan’s friends has noticed Megan that she suffered from depression. Her friend calls Megan quite often to check she if she were okay.

Good thing, Megan manages to shake off depression for a short period.


After the Court Hearing

Burying her head in her hands rested on the steering wheel, immensely exhausted of everything, Megan is on her way back to London.

Mixed sad emotions rip her heart. It seems she cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel after attending Residence Order hearing at the Crown Court.

“How long do I have to suffer?” says Megan, rubbing her nose and catching her breath. “Why did they betray me?”

She cannot understand why her ex-parents-in-law could have done this to her, dragging her to court for the sake of full custody of her kids.

“They are my children!” Megan cries in secret. “Where did I go wrong, my Lord? Have I trusted my ex-parents-in-law too much?”

Megan can no longer pick up her children as she pleases. She finds it difficult to have them even just a week to be with her.

Her former parents- in-laws have so many excuses uttering to Megan that the kids are busy at school. Grandmother is always blaming Megan. Grandmother would say to Megan that she should tell her in advance if she wants to have her kids for a week break.

But when Megan informs her ex-mother-in-law in advance, she would have had another alibi. So, how could Megan get it right? Megan would never win, no matter what she would do. It is always Megan’s fault; that is what her ex-mother-in-law had done to her. “Your fault, Megan!”

Full of regrets, her teardrops flood. “I wish I could turn the clock back. I would not be here, wailing,” says Megan.

‘But you cannot go back, Megan,’ a whisper from an unknown source.

‘You are right. I can’t. What should I do?’

‘Get on with it!’

Since Megan’s kids were living with their grandparents, they have become aloof to her. Their loyalties to their mother had vanished. Their loyalties have shifted to grandma. They are no longer as sweet as before to Megan, especially her daughter, Charlotte. Closeness and strong bond between Megan and kids broke.

So, how could Megan not regret all these unexpected turns of events happening in her life? She feels everyone has let her down and wanted her dead and so they could have all her kids’ attention.

Megan’s overwhelming sadness attracts past events in her life. Old events pour back in her memory; the more Megan succumbs to the pain, the more the yesteryears events come more apparent as if watching a film in front of her.

Shaking her body, Megan twists the car key clockwise, and her right foot kicks accelerator and the engine revs. She pulls out her car and drives away. Tears run across her face.

June 1995, Surrey, England

One late afternoon in the summer, few weeks pregnant, Megan is busy clearing up in the room. Megan’s partner creeps behind her back. Like a speed of the wind, Megan’s partner snaps her hand. He twists her wrist for no apparent reason. Startled. Shocked. Speechless. Megan could not understand why he did it to her. She did nothing wrong.

Half an hour later, her partner wraps around her, kissing her and asking for forgiveness. He swears to God and promises and telling Megan that it will never happen again. Thanks for twisting Megan’s wrist- damage is not critical but left her wrist bruised for weeks.

When Megan asks him why he twisted her hand for no good reason, he says, he hated himself for growing up without his biological father around. Sympathy and compassion engulf Megan. She rewards forgiveness. ‘It is a one-off,’ Megan thought. ‘It would never happen again.’

Megan is three months pregnant. One Saturday morning, in haste, getting ready as she is going to catch a train to London to attend a Beauty Therapy Course class at Steiner Beauty School. Unsuspecting! Megan is grooming at the mirror when a sharp blow from her partner’s palm lands on her left face. Like before, he did it for no apparent reason.

Stunned and upset and unable to speak, Megan’s tears flood down to her white uniform.

Again, he hugs her tightly and showers kisses and pleads it will never happen again. For the second time, Megan rewards forgiveness before she even steps out the house to the train station, feeling a searing pain lingering on her cheek.

There is no going back to a singleton for Megan. She is carrying his child. Somehow, Megan hopes their unborn baby will have a significant impact on her partner.

Sure, things will turn out for the better.

Despite receiving ill treatments from her partner, they get married at a Registrar Office in Surrey.

This marriage has sealed a belief that her new husband is capable of changing. Notably, a new baby on the way is proof that his behaviour will reform.

So far, not all things are bad about Megan’s husband. There are many positive points to him. He is honest, articulate, intelligent, well-educated, charming, and a good cook. A six-foot and four-inch tall, broad-shoulder, and a good-looking bloke, and to add up, he is a soft-spoken and calm chap. Yes, soft-spoken and gentle when his real colour is not out yet. He wore a mask for a while. Well, these qualities mentioned above, especially the gentle thing and soft-spoken thing, had besotted Megan to fall for him when they met at a party in Swiss Cottage pub organized by Megan’s friend. His classic looks and height stood among the guests, and that caught Megan’s attention in the dim-light room.

Eager to know him, Megan never wastes her time. She waves the party organizer to ask this stranger to come to their table-Megan and friends. That is how it started. It is just like a click of a finger. Love comes unexpectedly.

Like Megan, he too is keen to know her. He and Megan fall for each other in a short period.

But, Megan has no inkling that he is going to be her future husband. An abusive one and she will be his future battered wife.

If Megan could have ever read her future, she would run miles away from him.

At first, Megan thought, she had won a lottery. He is an only child, smart, kind, soft-spoken, and calm.

When Megan met his family, they were so lovely.

In one occasion, right in front of Megan, his mother told him, “It is so nice having you, son. I love you so much.” This scene has a big effect to Megan. In her mind, she thought, “I met my prince who will love me and care for me.”

They are a decent family, and if, one day, she would be a part of this family, she would be happy ever after. That is what Megan thought.

A few months later, new boyfriend gives Megan a house key and tells Megan that if she were feeling a bit bored in London, she could come by and stay in his flat at any time, she pleases.

Desperate to settle down and her clock is ticking for motherhood, one day without telling her new boyfriend, Megan drives down to his flat in tow with all her belongings. How naïve, girl? You, Megan! Unwittingly, he is not what she thought, ‘a calm and soft-spoken individual.’

At last, his true colours come up behind closed door since she moved in with him and made her pregnant. He is very unpredictable. One minute he can be so charming and loving, but in the next moment, he can be so wicked and a bully.




New Baby Arrival

In March 1996, Charlotte was born at St. Peter Hospital, Chertsey, Surrey. She was eight kilos and four-ounce weight.

It is the beginning of happy moments and celebration in the family. They are overjoyed.

This newborn, beautiful baby Charlotte makes her husband love Megan more.

The moment he cradles his infant in his arms, he adores her. Megan's husband declares his undying love to them. He is so bewitched holding his baby girl. And so the grandparents, so enthralled, especially the grandmother.

At the very first time, grandmother sets her eyes to her new granddaughter she cannot stop staring at her. She lifts her new granddaughter from her mother’s arms and squeezes this gorgeous baby against her chest.

From then, grandmother cannot stop grinning from ear to ear. She is so proud to have her first grandchild. For now, granny’s attention is only for her new granddaughter. She comes every day to see baby Charlotte at the Maternity ward, and it continues when they go home.

Grandma does not want to miss a thing about her granddaughter. Any time, any day, new granny can turn up, when she feels like it. Anyhow, granny had a spare key to Megan’s flat, and so she can come as she pleases.

A few weeks later, there is an unexpected change in the air in the household. Not a good one but worse. Thanks! Anyhow, Megan had just a little taste of a short-lived great delight. It looks like Megan’s happy days are over again.

The pressure of having a new demanding baby takes a toll further on their crippling relationship.

Baby Charlotte is a very active baby, waking up every two hours, calling for attention. Baby Charlotte’s incessant calls for attention throughout the night drive her father to the edge.


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