Leave Means Leave Episode 9

I put two episodes up today by mistake so you’ll need to read the previous one first.

At dinner Phyl seemed to sense things were not well. But she was sensitive enough not to ask and in any case they were joined by two others from the course.

‘Wow,’ said Anna, ‘we seem to be all women.’

‘It’s an access course,’ said Trudi, one of the newcomers. She had a slight accent – American? Canadian? ‘So there’s definitely gonna be more women.’

Phyl sensitively looked down at her phone. Anna nodded; of course, she should have thought of that. To cover her embarrassment – though it was hardly anything to be embarrassed about – she looked at her phone too and saw another text, one she couldn’t help reading.

YOU GOT LUCKY. BUT YOU WON’T MAKE IT ANY FURTHER.

She put the phone away quickly. Phyl caught her eye. ‘Everything OK?’

She gave a brief smile, caught a glimpse of fellow-feeling from grey eyes. ‘Fine.’

After dinner Trudi suggested the pub. Anna was about to cry off when she thought, why not? She’d be safer there than alone in her room; whoever he’d got sending messages, they wouldn’t try anything in the middle of a bar. They were walking across the courtyard when Phyl caught her arm.

‘Look, tell me to bugger off if I’m out of order, but – well, I recognise the symptoms. You’ve just got out of an abusive relationship – am I right?’

Anna nodded.

‘You don’t mind me asking?’

Truth be told, it was a relief; she shook her head.

‘How long has it been?’

She had to think; time seemed to have entered another dimension. What date was it when she’d left? ‘It was after Brexit, I know that,’ she said.

Phyl laughed. ‘So, some time in the last two years then?’

‘Has it been two years?’

Phyl nodded.

‘I think I must have been in a sort of dream.’

‘Yep, been there.’

They were at the pub now. Suddenly Anna felt an urge to confide in her; she steered Phyl to a corner and they sat down at a table.

‘Can I show you something?’

‘Sure.’

‘He’s been sending me texts – at least, it’s not him cos my liaison officer said he’s in custody, but someone is, and I think he’s telling them what to do.’

‘Can I see?’

Anna opened the folder; Phyl scrolled through and whistled. ‘This is strong stuff. Have you shown the police?’

‘I’ve shown them everything. But there’s no evidence it’s him – there were no forensics on the letters either.’

‘There were letters?’

Anna explained. ‘Blimey girl, you’ve really been through it,’ said Phyl.

Anna looked up from her phone. ‘And you?’

Phyl looked up. ‘Tell you another time.’ Trudi was bearing down on their table with a tray of drinks. ‘Thought we’d have a bit of bubbly to celebrate,’ she said. ‘I hope that’s OK?’

Drinks to celebrate. Anna had drunk to forget, to console herself, to numb the pain but never to celebrate. She smiled. ‘Brilliant,’ she said – and Phyl gave her a wide, encouraging smile.

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