This won the Write Invite live Flash Fiction Competition on the 16th June 2012
I never quite realized just how much stress I had been under. I just sort of got on with it. I didn't kick up a fuss, wail out my woes, paint out my pain on the washing line. I didn't let my troubles go viral - for what would have been the point. It was my fault anyway I'd decided, and with that thought I had kept my head lowered when I collected the morning paper and gave Toby a discreet show and tell when I left him at the school gates.
The skies were eternally black, and Ted's reign in my life was for life. I poofed the cushions on his throne, polished the jewels on his crown and I knelt by his knee wearing his authority on me like a heavy robe. He was my master and I wasn't to forget it.
But in secret corridors I dreamed. I dreamed of strolling on the shore, tiptoeing through the froth on the sand. I dreamed of another's touch. An altogether gentler touch, one that was welcomed and longed for, and one that left no purple bruises and bloody lips. One that whispered out love on my skin and warmed the stone that had replaced my heart.
In the secret corridors the clouds rolled away, blue replaced black, joy replaced fear and someone else replaced Ted. In the secret corridors all was fresh, like cotton sheets on the washing line, all was peaceful like sitting in the church and praying - in the secret corridors I didn't need someone to rescue me.
But that was all they had been - corridors - a place to escape to. And was it worth it, for when I emerged with hope burning in my little stone heart the clouds had rolled back again, the cotton sheets were soaked with tears and all I was left with was prayer.