Kate Sanders has suffered many years of physical and mental abuse at the hands of her abusive husband Alan, and convinces herself that she is only holding the family together for the sake of her eight-year-old daughter. If it wasn’t for her best friend Jill Reynolds, she would have taken the suicide option a long time ago.
As she desperately seeks a way to escape, she is contacted by a solicitor. Kate’s old aunt has died and she has been left a small fortune.
For the first time, she sees the light at the end of the tunnel. She dreams of a fresh start, a new home, a new life. What Kate doesn’t know is that Jill and Alan have their own secrets, and are both desperate to get their hands on her money.
Kate soon finds herself falling for the charms of Jonathon Jacobs in what she believes to be fate finally intervening and offering her a second chance, unaware that each move he makes has been directed, orchestrated and well-rehearsed as he begs her to leave her husband Alan.
A blonde head bounced on the floor in time to the yelling. Rays of the early morning sun caught her golden hair, and motes of dust hung in the air. Sophie Saunders was eight years old. Kneeling down on the floor, she played with her dolls, drumming Ken and Barbie against the carpet, her body bent forward, almost as if she were praying in her immaculately clean and pressed school uniform. But today her school uniform was the last thing on her mind. She bashed the dolls’ heads off the pink floor in unison.
‘Ring-a-Ring-a-Rosie,’ she sang aloud to herself as she tried to drown out the voices that rose up through the floorboards.
The noises from downstairs were a regular occurrence, and fast becoming the norm. Sophie felt her dad’s anger, ever-present in his voice as it vibrated through her bedroom, positioned over the kitchen. Scared, she dropped her dolls, raising her arms and clasping her small hands over her ears. Sophie closed her eyes. Blinded, she felt for Barbie and Ken and gripped the toys by the legs. With one in each hand, she remained still for a moment, and as the voices intensified beneath her, she sensed them possessing the dolls.
‘You’re an old bag. I hate you!’ Sophie’s voice was deep and rough, as she rammed Ken’s head into Barbie’s chest.
‘Why are you always so nasty to me?’ She raised the pitch of her voice as she shook the dolls hard.
‘Because you make me want to vomit when I look at your fat ugly face,’ she growled.
‘Please stop being so cruel to me,’ she enunciated.
‘Who do you think you are? Don’t you dare tell me what to do, bitch!’
With each word, she struck Ken against Barbie, again and again, until finally Barbie’s head popped off and rolled across the carpet.
That hadn’t been her intention. She didn’t mean to decapitate the poor doll. Shocked, she stood up as she searched for the missing head. She found it under the bedside cabinet at the back, by the wall. She crouched down, stretched out her arm and grabbed it. Sophie sat up on her knees, struggling to reattach the plastic head to its body.
‘Bloody shit! Why won’t it go on?’ The racket from below grew ever louder. ‘Bloody shit.’ Frustrated, she gave up, and flung the dolls across the room.
Downstairs, her father, Alan, almost lost his head. He shouted louder as his wife, Kate, persisted as the peacemaker.
‘As useless as a one-legged woman in an arse- kicking contest.’
His voice echoed around the large stark white room, drowning out the soothing music from the old radio sitting on the window ledge.
‘You’re one useless bastard!’ The barrage of abuse had just hit average level.
‘Fucking useless.’ The kitchen had seen better days, as had their marriage, but Kate worked hard to keep both spotless and functional.
‘Can you hear me?’ She strived hard at everything, as she had for a lifetime.
‘Hello? Is there anyone home?’ However, her efforts now went unnoticed or drew heavy criticism for no reason.
‘I’m fucking talking to you, whore.’ She knew only too well what was about to come her way, as she moved the blonde strand of hair out of her blue eyes and concentrated. She placed the boiled egg safely into its cup.
‘Where’s this fucking breakfast, for fuck’s sake?’
She reached out her arm, picked up the knife and, clenching it tight in her hand, she decapitated the top of the egg.
‘I can hear you, Alan.’ The toast was the light side of brown, just as he liked it, but who knew these days? ‘There’s no point keeping on at me, shouting. I can’t go any faster.’
She set the breakfast plate before Alan. His face was dark and menacing—the antithesis of the light sense of fun that had been knocked out of her.
‘About fucking time. Talk about slow. You’re like a human fucking sloth.’
After ten years together, she found it more of a challenge to stay positive. Alan had turned negativity into a vocation.
‘What the flying fuck is this?’ She stared at the top of his head, bristling with the military-style haircut he’d had since he was a child, raised by an army commander who gave no quarter.
‘Do you seriously expect me to eat this fucking lot of shite?’ Alan had adopted the same rank in the family, but hadn’t served a moment in the services. ‘All these years, and you still can’t boil a fucking egg? I mean, it’s not fucking rocket science.’ She watched him as he snarled at her. ‘You’ve got to be having some sort of a laugh.’
He pushed the plate away with such force, it shot forward and hit the condiment pots. Kate flinched as the sharp noise pierced her ears. ‘Why, what’s wrong with it now?’ She clenched her fists as her body shook. Her nerves were all on the surface, as he mocked her and revelled in her fear.
‘What’s bloody wrong with it? It’s the wrong colour, undercooked and looks like my fucking snot. You really are a fucking retard!’
She watched as his sneer took what used to be a pleasantly rugged face – a lifetime ago – and warped it monstrously.
‘Well, I can do another for you, if you like. It won’t take me a minute!’
She tried her hardest to stay calm, fearful of what might come next.
‘That’s how long I think you boiled that one for, a fucking minute, so what’s the bloody point? You’ll only mess it up again, you thick tart.’ Kate, petrified, noticed the pure evil as it manifested once again across his face.
‘You’re miles away these days. Maybe you should go see a doctor and get some happy pills from him. For fuck’s sake, you can’t even time an egg.’ Once again defeated, she bit her lip and her voice broke.
‘Well, I did boil it for three minutes.’ She watched his face as it reddened. She knew the inevitable was about to happen, and wished it over and done with.
‘Yeah, yeah. Let’s face it, darling, you’re no good at cooking, no good in bed—in fact, you’re no good at fucking anything really. I bloody dread mealtimes in this house.’
The victorious grin that had taken residence across his smug face frightened her.
‘I try my best, Alan, I really do.’ Kate’s voice sounded weak. Alan fed off her vulnerability as he chipped away at her. He cranked up the volume another notch.
‘You really are a fucking retard. You’re trying to poison me with salmonella.’ Alan stretched out his arm, picking up the boiled egg. Terrified, she eyed him as he gripped it tightly in his hand. ‘Trying to do me in with food poisoning, are you?’
Kate jerked as he lobbed the egg towards her, raising her arm, shielding it from her face as it side-swiped her head. She tried to pick fragments of sticky shell out of her hair.
‘That’s what I think about your boiled eggs. Now go and fucking clean it up!’
She decided the best defence was to stay silent. Terrified, she turned her back on him, and tried to disappear into the background.
‘Don’t turn your back on me, I’m fucking talking to you! You’re one ignorant bitch. Don’t you dare fucking ignore me!’
She closed her eyes tight and gritted her teeth, trying hard to remain calm.
‘I’m not ignoring you. I’m trying to get Sophie’s breakfast ready or she’ll be late for school.’
Her smooth tone stoked his fury more. ‘I don’t even know why I fucking married you. I could’ve done so much better. My parents were right on the money when they said I married down. An army bigwig and a doctor they were, and what are you? A washed-up failed actress, a shit teacher, and a poor excuse for a fucking wife.’
She ignored him as the vile comments became more and more aggressive.
‘I mean, have you taken a fucking good look at yourself lately?’
He rotated his chair towards her. She watched him in terror as he looked her up and down like he’d just stepped in a massive turd.
‘Please don’t, Alan. Please don’t start again today.’
She arranged the plate of food as fast as she could. Jumpy and exasperated, she picked up the tea towel from the draining board and wiped the edges clean, as he continued to mock her.
‘“Please don’t, Alan – please don’t, Alan.” Can you hear yourself, Kate?’
The onslaught continued towards danger point.
‘You’ve really let yourself go over the years. You need to get yourself to the fucking gym and start exercising. I married a woman, not a lard arse. Just look at you!’
She was tall and well-proportioned. If Alan wanted an anorexic model, he was living in cloud cuckoo land – and the wrong neighbourhood.
‘Oh, for crying out loud, Alan.’ Her adrenalin kicked in, and she snapped out of her former resignation. She threw down the tea towel on the worktop. ‘I do exercise, Alan, when I have the time!’
‘Ha! Are you having a fucking bubble? You keep telling yourself that. You’re a silly stupid fat tart. You should take a leaf out of your friend Jill’s book. Now she looks great. Perfect little figure, and a great pair of tits!’
He did nothing to hide the wicked grin that was plastered across his face, or his semi- erection. Watching him, repulsed, she tried logic. ‘Well, Jill hasn’t got any children to worry about, or a husband for that matter, so she has more time on her hands than I bloody well do.’
She continued to busy herself, reaching into the cupboard next to her and removing a plate.
‘Excuses, Kate, always bloody excuses with you! Don’t you know the truth always comes out? Mind you, you wouldn’t know the truth if it jumped up and took a bite-sized chunk out of your big fat fucking arse, you thick bitch.’
Her stomach churned. She didn’t want another fight. Against her better judgement, she apologised. ‘I’m sorry about the egg, Alan, I really am, but do you have to do this now? Sophie will be down for her breakfast any minute.’
She showed him Sophie’s plate. Desperate, she reminded him of their daughter’s existence. Kate was taken aback as she heard the almighty roar that bellowed out of his mouth.
‘Who the fuck do you think you are? You think you can tell me what I can and cannot do in my own house!’
The house belonged to both of them, a wedding gift from his parents, but she wasn’t about to argue the toss about that now.
‘Please, Alan, Sophie will hear you. It’s not fair she has to listen to this day in, day out. Do you not think about what this is doing to her? She’s your daughter, for heaven’s sake.’
She hated the sound of her weak voice. ‘Well, that’s fucking debatable.’ Sickened, Kate watched him as he swayed in his chair like a hypnotised cobra. A dreary Coldplay song rang out on the radio.
‘I don’t give a toss about you or your fucking daughter.’
The saliva flew in all directions across the kitchen, as he continued to spit more venom in her direction.
‘It’s my fucking house, my rules. Anyway, look at you. And what’s that on your face? Is that make-up and lipstick you’re wearing? Where do you think you’re going today with all that crap on your face? You look like a washed- up old whore!’
She was frozen to the spot, and the colour drained fast from her face.
‘It’s just pink lip gloss, for goodness sake. What the hell’s wrong with you?’
His eyes bulged from their sockets like a bullfrog’s, his tongue sharp like a flickering whip, as he leapt from his chair and grabbed her firmly by the hair. ‘Lip gloss, my arse.’ She fought hard to hold on to Sophie’s plate as he ground his thumb into her mouth and smeared the tacky pink gloss across her cheek.
‘Ha! That’s more like it! As if lipstick or lip gloss is going to help you.’
She felt the sting as the palm of his hand connected hard against her cheek. He picked up the dirty tea towel.
‘Please, Alan, stop this.’ He rubbed it hard across her flushed skin. Kate, struggling to breathe, heard the crash as the plate fell to the floor.
‘Look at the tea towel, cunt. It’s fucking make-up. Stop fucking lying to me!’
She could smell the remnants of the stale booze on his breath, which made her heave. ‘I’m not lying.’ She struggled hard to pull away from him, her eyes drawn towards the doorway. She noticed Sophie standing there, her perfect angelic face pale and in shock.
‘Go away!’ Kate mouthed to her terrified daughter.
‘What was that, bitch? Are you talking back to me again?’
She felt the sharp pain hit, as he punched her hard in the stomach. As Kate fell to her knees, she heard Sophie’s voice.
‘Leave my mummy alone!’ Kate looked up at him, and at the same time his expressive dark eyes narrowed. Alan turned around and faced his daughter.
‘Oh, it’s you! Have you seen your mother? Doesn’t she look like a cheap whore? This is what you’ll look like one day if you let yourself turn into a sack of shit like her!’
He hoisted Kate up from the floor by her hair, on to her feet, and slapped her viciously again across her cheek.
She screamed. ‘Get out, Sophie! Get out!’ Kate watched Sophie as she turned around and raced from the kitchen in floods of tears. She pleaded with him:
‘Alan, please stop this! Please!’ She stumbled as he pushed her hard into the side of the Formica worktop. Unsteady on her feet, she reached out with both hands and gripped on to it.
‘You’re lucky I’ve got things to do today and that I don’t have to spend another minute looking at your gormless fucking mug!’
She watched as he grabbed his jacket off the back of the kitchen chair and threw it across his right shoulder.
‘What have I told you about lying, Kate?’ She saw the triumphant expression on his face as he left the kitchen and whistled down the hallway. Kate listened out as he opened the front door, and jumped as she heard his voice again.
‘Make sure you clean up all the mess and scrape all that raw egg off those bloody tiles.’
She closed her eyes for a split second and there came another almighty loud bang as the front door slammed shut behind him. Kate’s whole body trembled with this aftershock.
‘God help me,’ she said to herself. She crawled across the kitchen floor, picked up the newspaper off the chair and gathered the food and shards of broken plate onto it as she chanted to herself.
Growing up, Suzanne witnessed mental and physical abuse within her own family which strongly influenced her when she wrote her first play, A Fool’s Circle, when she attended the famous Anna Scher Theatre. Suzanne, however, was not content to leave it there and decided to go ahead and transform her play into a novel.
Not one to shy away from exciting challenges, she also wrote, acted, directed, cast and produced a trailer for the book around her hometown in Islington with the support of local businesses, who recognised the drive and importance of Suzanne and her work.
Suzanne is a passionate writer and she is determined to be heard so that the issue of domestic abuse is raised amongst the public’s consciousness, empowering others to speak out. She wants those who suffer at the hands of another to have their voices heard, loud and clear.