Today’s story Diana is also translated into Spanish and is included in the anthology ¡Que entre la luz! in aid of victims of domestic violence. Olga Nunez Miret translated the story and is a member of Ediciones Proust who published the anthology.
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Diana- Full of Grace
Diana Grace was an only child of two older parents who had been delightfully surprised when they discovered that after fifteen years of marriage; a baby was on the way. Her father was a professor of music and her mother a psychiatrist and Diana had grown up in a household filled with love and laughter.
Not wanting their daughter to be the stereotypical only child, her parents had made sure that she understood that achievements and money only came through hard work. Diana had started with a paper round and moved on to work in the local bakery as a counter assistant through school and then university. Despite her parents being well off, they insisted that she contribute a part of her weekly take home pay towards her upkeep and it was with great pride that she handed over those few pounds per week.
Being a bright and outgoing child opened doors for Diana and after completing her degree in English Literature; she was offered the job as assistant manager of a large bookshop in Oxford. This meant a move away from her parents into a shared house with three other young women all beginning their careers away from home.
The next two years passed quickly with Diana enjoying her job and also a hectic social life with the group of close friends that grew around her. She managed to get home to see her parents at least one weekend a month, and they watched as she blossomed into a vibrant and beautiful young woman.
One day Diana looked up from the counter, where she was checking in a batch of new books, to find herself staring up into the face of a very good-looking man. Tall with dark hair that fell naturally across a broad forehead, down to full and smiling lips, to a dimple and a very masculine chin.
She realised that she had been staring and gathered herself quickly.
‘Good morning, how may I help you?’ Diana placed her hands on the counter in front of her in what she hoped was a professional manner.
‘Hi, I’m looking for a copy of Great Expectations for my nephew’s birthday; do you have a recent edition in stock?’ As if aware of her discomfort the man tilted his head to one side and looked her directly in the eye.
There followed a romance that would be termed whirlwind, with Diana swept along in the passion and certainty that she had only read about in books. Within six weeks she had taken him home to meet her parents and three months later they were married in the church a short walk from her parents’ house. She became Mrs. Simon Forester and she repeated her new name several times a day in an effort to remind herself of her good fortune.
Simon was a merchant banker and worked in London. He already had a flat in the Docklands and after the wedding Diana moved in with her many boxes of books, music and the wedding gifts. Ecstatically happy, despite leaving her close friends behind, she went job hunting and found a book shop in Holborn who was in need of a manager.
The whirlwind did not stop as the social life that Simon’s work provided was fast and addictive. She adored her handsome husband and secretly enjoyed the looks that other women would cast in their direction when they walked into a room. The only slight niggle that Diana had, was that her parents never seemed to warm to Simon. When they visited for a weekend or special occasion there was a tension that worried her.
It was just after their third anniversary that a crack appeared in their marriage. Diana had thought that their celebration dinner was the most appropriate time to tell Simon that they were having a baby and that she was two months pregnant.
He had placed his glass of red wine down on the white tablecloth very carefully and turned his cold gaze towards her excited and radiant face.
‘How did you let that happen?’ he spat at her as she sat open-mouthed at his reaction.
Flinging his napkin down on the table he called the waiter over and demanded the bill. Taking her arm far too firmly in his clenched hand, he virtually frog marched Diana from the restaurant and out to their parked car.
A frosty silence descended on their marriage with Simon working long hours and declining to discuss the baby in any form. Eventually in desperation Diana cornered him after he had returned in the early hours of the morning, clearly drunk, and asked him what he wanted her to do.
After a moment’s silence he turned to her and for a moment she saw a flash of a smile but not one of charm.
Diana lay in the bed and the pain radiated up from her leg through her body to join with the pounding headache. She could hear sobbing and her hand lying limply by her side was being gripped tightly. As her eyelids fluttered open she felt warm breath travel up her arm across her neck and then close to her ear.
‘If you say one word, I will make sure that I finish the job next time,’ she shuddered with the menace dripping from his voice.
‘You became dizzy and fell down the stairwell outside the flat, do you understand me you stupid piece of garbage.’
Terrified Diana tried to pull her arm out of his grip and then heard another voice from the end of the bed.
‘Time to let your wife rest Mr. Forester, and you look as though you need to head off and get some sleep yourself.’ The brisk tones of the nurse indicated that this was not a request and Simon stood up and patted Diana’s arm.
‘Alright darling, I’ll see you in the morning,’ he turned to the nurse and flashed his most charming of smiles. ‘Look after them for me please sister; they mean the world to me.’ With that he brushed past the nurse and left the ward.
Despite the pain, Diana’s first thought was for her baby and weakly she reached out to the nurse. ‘Please is my baby okay, I have to know, is it safe.’
The nurse moved down the bed and laid a gentle hand on Diana’s shoulder.
‘You have a lot of bruises and a concussion but luckily you fell onto your side. Your stomach is bruised, but the baby is fine and strong, so try not to worry.’ As she continued to carry out various checks, the nurse looked down at Diana’s bruised face.
‘You know that if you need help in any way that there are people who we can call,’ she paused. ‘That was a very nasty fall that you had and it would not be good for you or the baby if that happened again.’
She placed the lead with the call button into Diana’s hand, and satisfied that she had done all she could for the time being, she walked down the ward to talk to the doctor.
The pain medication was beginning to take effect and although drowsy, Diana knew that this was a time for clear thought and action. It was not just herself that needed protection, but her unborn child. She had never experienced true anger before in her life but she now realised that this pressure in her chest and her head was not just a result of Simon pushing her down the steps outside their flat.
It was a deep seated and instinctive need to protect the life of her unborn child.
The next morning, having been called in the night by the ward sister, Diana’s parents sat by her bedside holding her hands and talking quietly to each other. The door at the end of the ward was flung open and Simon strode down the marble floor bearing a bunch of red roses and smiling at the nurses in passing. He looked ahead and saw Diana’s father and mother and the smile froze in place.
As he came closer, he noticed another man slightly hidden by the curtains who walked to the end of Diana’s bed. Simon glanced at his wife as she lay propped up against her pillow and was met with a coldness and determination he had never seen before in his previously compliant wife.
He heard footsteps approaching firmly from behind him and the roses fell to the floor as his arms were wrenched behind his back.
Struggling against his captors he turned to face the stern-faced man in front of him.
‘Simon Forester, I am arresting you…………
© Sally Cronin
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