She makes her way across the moor. It’s cold, probably around freezing she guesses, as the dead bracken crackles beneath her boots. She pulls up the hood of her parka and thrusts her hands deeper into the lined pockets.
Making this trip wasn’t something she had wanted to do. Nothing could appeal less to her. But she had told herself that she had to; if she ever wanted to move on from her past, she knew that she had to. She’d told herself this so many times before, had sat with her finger poised above the booking confirmation. It would be such a simple act to move her finger a few millimetres firmly down and make the commitment. But her demons had won time and again and she had never made the trip. So, she carries the burden every day; it never becomes lighter.
And then she receives the invitation to speak at the Women in Leadership Conference. She is thrilled at the recognition and starts to make arrangements. But slowly it dawns on her where exactly she will be going. She will be making the trip she has avoided for so long; there will be no peace for her unless she sees the whole thing through and challenges her demons.
She pushes all thoughts from her mind other than the conference and books the train. She works on her presentation, she knows it’s strong – it tells her story. Well, the story that she wishes to present, the story of her inspiration, her dedication, her years of hard work, her products, her teambuilding, all leading to her success. She knows it omits the beginning, her breakdowns, her failed relationships, her recurrent demons. But it’s the story they know, the one they will all wish to hear. So, she concentrates on her presentation and her business, pushing all other thoughts from her mind.
As the conference draws near, her demons return and she is falling apart; there is no escape. She changes her plans and leaves a day early. It’s late afternoon when she checks into the hotel. She quickly changes into her outdoor gear and jumps into one of the waiting taxis.
A short time later she is standing on the edge of the moor. The nearby town and demand of her daily life seem a million miles away. She doesn’t look back but takes the old footpath that leads up between the rocks. The light is fading fast. She doesn’t worry, she knows these moors. The ground is hard and she makes good progress with the full moon now shining like a beacon to guide her.
Cresting a small rise, she sees the old house and stops. It sits in a small hollow by the stream that glistens in the moonlight. It’s large and isolated and even seems somehow apart from the nearby farm buildings. She can see that disrepair is everywhere.
She is shaking. It isn’t the cold, she knows her gear will protect her in far worse conditions. But she knows what she faces is far harsher than anything the weather can bring, even on these high moors. With the realisation sinking in, the tears stream down her face and the sobs wrack her body. Taking deep breaths, she fights her demons once more, pulls herself together and walks nearer to the house.
As she approaches, a light comes on in an upstairs room and she pauses behind some large shrubs at the edge of what used to be a lawn. The rest of the house is in darkness but she sees a small, newish car parked in the drive. Perhaps the house has been sold. She doesn’t have a plan except to be here, to face the childhood memories she has fought so hard to forget.
Then, a single, overhead light is switched on in the largest downstairs room. She moves closer and is transfixed by what she sees. A large matronly woman in a uniform is striding towards a bed that is surrounded by medical paraphernalia. There is a shrunken shell of a man lying captive in the bed. The woman ministers to him in a brusque, almost mechanistic manner. She appears devoid of compassion or humanity.
She sees the man who was her father, her betrayer, the destroyer of her childhood, the creator of her demons. He is utterly helpless and alone.
As she stares at the scene, she realises that she had had a plan (of sorts) in the back of her mind. The ‘me too.’ movement and the plight of others had affected her more deeply than she had realised. Lurking in the back of her mind had been dark thoughts… of the police, confrontation, punishment. But that matters no longer.
‘Karma!” she thinks, “I am free.”
She turns and walks away. Even if it takes her all night, she knows she can, she must, she will rewrite her presentation to tell her true story, the whole story. Others must know. Her suffering must not be in vain.