Short Story Serial: Leave Means Leave Episode 2

The second part of a Brexit-themed story…

It was the pregnancy that woke her up; for the first time in her life she felt a terror for someone other than herself and a determination to keep the baby safe. So, miscarriage or not (and that was a proper accident, nothing to do with him) the decision was made. She was gone.

And yet she delayed. What if she’d brought about the miscarriage by her own actions? What if it was God’s punishment for deciding to leave? What if there was worse to come? She made up her mind and unmade it a thousand times a day. And then suddenly one summer’s day by some alchemy the decision was made. Only by a small margin but there it was; she was going. Simple as packing a bag, writing a note and walking out the door.

She remembered that note with a stab of guilt; that one tiny, inadequate word, Goodbye. That summed up their whole marriage; she’d never been enough for him, had always fallen short, was always making him angry. Then as she left the house she saw the car again with its message. LEAVE MEANS LEAVE. It was back, in the same place, and that could only mean one thing: it was the universe telling her – don’t go back. Don’t even look back. And this time she took the message to heart.

She had barely mourned for the baby. Before the bleeding there were tiny white blobs on the scan that were the baby’s bones; remembering the fractures in her arms she fiercely promised the baby that no-one would ever harm a single one of those tiny bones. The baby would never be his, ever. No. The no sounded in the bone, hollow and resonant; it was a decision taken at the cellular level. No going back. Leave Means Leave.

In any case, she said to herself as though rationalising the decision – as though bruises and broken bones weren’t reason enough – there was hardly room for her in that place, let alone a baby. His stuff was strewn everywhere and he didn’t like her tidying. Knew where everything was, he said. Got cross if she moved anything. It was his flat after all, he paid the rent, didn’t he? Didn’t he have any rights? And so on. She was sick with the weariness of it.

So with the baby they’d have had to move anyway and he’d have made a huge fuss about it. Would he even have been glad? Probably, yes, because it would have been another tie, keeping them together, stopping her from running off. He was always ranting about her running off, wouldn’t even have let her go to work if they hadn’t needed the money. When the bleeding came she didn’t even go to the doctor, just mopped it up and carried on. Force of habit. The the next day she packed a bag, put on her coat and instead of going to work went to the police station. Leave Means Leave.

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