In the morning it was clear – leave today or never get out. Court at nine and flight at two. That gave her enough time. Everything packed well in advance and she told no one. Jon must not suspect. Once they got to safety, then she would arrange for their few belongings to be shipped. Today she wore her warm coat over as many other clothes as was possible. That way she could take a few things and save the space in her bag for Jade’s clothes and her Blue Rabbit.
The court called her name; Miranda Preston. Brave New sodding World. What were her parents thinking? She and Jade walked hand in hand. Jade was four, and old enough to realise that if she lived with Daddy he would hurt her, like he hurt Mummy.
‘Bitch! I never hit you. Lying Bitch.’
Miranda gulped for air and walked straight on to her seat. Her solicitor smiled, shuffled his papers and got on with his job. It was over quickly. Never any doubt. She shook his hand and headed for the exit.
At the top of the elevator, Jon was waiting.
‘You are not taking Jade away from me.’ He grinded his back teeth when he got angry.
‘She is my daughter and she stays here.’
Don’t answer – look straight ahead.
‘You listening to me, Bitch?’
Always that word – horrible sound.
Hold tight Jade, don’t let go.
A step down and they were heading for the door.
‘Turn round and face me, you cow. I never hit you, say it.’
His hand was tight on her arm and it hurt. Behind him his mother was wrestling with her wobbling flesh on the moving stairs.
Miranda shrugged off his grip and lifted Jade into her arms. She felt the soft skin of her chubby legs.
‘Jon, you hit me, you hurt us. The judge said I was telling the truth. So, let go of me and let us leave. This is over.’
Miranda’s voice was deliberately loud and clear. Everyone was listening. There were witnesses. Ahead was the door. Once outside they could get into a taxi and be safe.
By this time Jon’s mother had arrived, her red face screwed up with rage. Miranda wondered how she had married into such an angry family.
‘You’re not taking my daughter away. I don’t care what no judge said. She is mine.’
His sense of entitlement made Miranda feel so tired. She looked ahead, gauging the distance between her and the outside. Then tightening her grip on her daughter, she walked steadily to the door. Jon was pushing and shoving at her side. A taxi drew up letting people out. This was it.
She could feel Jon trying to grab Jade from her arms, but then he let go. Inside the taxi, she looked back and saw a smiling security guard holding onto her violent husband. She blessed that man and wished him a long happy life.