ambulance, competing with the high-pitched wail of the siren. He
didn’t answer. His fingers rested on Amy’s wrist, then moved to feel for the pulse in her neck. And all the while the child’s face grew whiter and whiter, until Rachel began to
feel that she would disappear in front of her eyes.
So cold too sitting in the waiting room after they had taken Amy away, and every time the swing doors opened a blast of chilled air enveloped her and inched open the other doors, the ones that
led into the emergency cubicles where she knew Amy was lying. And every time the doors creaked open she thought that someone was coming out to tell her Amy was all right, Amy was fine. It was
nothing serious. But if that was so she would have been there, at her bedside, holding her hand, instead of waiting here in the cold. And then a young doctor was standing in front of her. There was
blood on his green scrubs and dark circles under his eyes. She felt his hand on her shoulder as he told her that Amy’s spleen had been ruptured. She was bleeding internally. They were going
to have to operate. She’d already lost a lot of blood. Would she sign the consent form? He handed her a piece of paper and a pen. Her hand shook as she wrote, and looking down she saw that
she had used her maiden name, Jennings, she had called herself Rachel Jennings. She crossed it out quickly, put Beckett. How stupid of me, how silly, she said as she handed it back to him.
But already the young doctor had left, gone back through the heavy swing doors, the draught blowing just for a moment as Rachel tried to think. Where was Martin and how could she tell him?
And still so cold four days later, huddling in the garage, waiting for Martin to fall asleep, for the alcohol in his bloodstream to travel to his brain. Listening to the sound of his voice,
shouting at her, screaming abuse. Waiting until there was silence, when she would know that he had lain down, his eyelids drooping, his body relaxing, that he had finally drifted off, so she could
come back into the house and phone for help. But she couldn’t be sure what he was doing in there. Every time she was just about to unlock the door that led into the kitchen she would hear a
sound, a noise that might be him. She couldn’t chance it. He had already hurt her. Punched her in the stomach, then kicked her as she lay on the ground, so that when she breathed in and out
she felt as if one of her ribs was piercing her lungs. And as she had begun to crawl away he had tried to stamp on her ankle, but the sudden movement had upset his balance and he too had fallen.
And as he lay on the ground, bellowing with anger, she had staggered to her feet and hurried into the kitchen, unlocking the connecting door into the garage, then hurriedly turning the key in the
lock so when he followed behind her and hammered and banged the door would not budge.
She sat on the cement floor, huddled shivering against the lawnmower in the corner. Her feet were bare, her nightie pulled tightly around her knees. She had been in bed when he arrived home,
trying to catch up on some of the sleep she had missed during those three days and nights when Amy had lain in intensive care, surrounded by tubes and wires and machines and blood had dripped from
the bag on the stand into her arm. Rachel had been with her when she opened her eyes for the first time, asked for water, smiled, then slept again. And she had at last allowed herself to listen to
the urgings of the nurses, to go home. She had crawled into bed and closed her eyes. And when she had opened them again Martin was standing beside her. She reached out her hand to him. But he
stepped back and she saw the look on his face. The expression that she knew so well. That transformed him. Turned his face dark, pinched his lips, made the bright blue of his eyes a murky grey.
Balled his hands into fists as he said, ‘Blood? Whose blood? Not mine. It couldn’t be mine.’
As he told her,