Lyn and Dave.
**Trigger warning: Domestic violence **
Lyn had been married to Charles for going on thirty years. Thirty miserable years filled with heartache and abuse. The only thing that made all those lonely years bearable were their two wonderful children. Lyn had focused all her love and attention on them but time moved on.
Now they were grown and had moved out of the family home, so she had little to distract her from her terrible marriage to a man who enjoyed hitting her and humiliating her any chance he got.
She should have gotten out years ago, but things were different back then. Her parents had been fiercely religious and her entire life she’d been taught that marriage was for life, no matter what.
Lyn remembered when she was newly married and Charles had hit her for the first time. It had come as such a shock. With her adrenalin racing and her jaw burning, she wasted no time packing a small case and running all the way back to her parents.
When the door to her parent’s house swung open she flung herself, weeping, into her mother’s arms and clung to her. Once she’d told her story over a hot cup of tea and freshly baked banana bread, her parents shocked her. They told her that she’d made her bed and now she needed to lie in it. They spun her right around and sent her back to him. She sat on the curb just down from her house and cried. The desperate pull to turn and run away was strong. She would have done practically anything to avoid walking back through that front door to the monster waiting for her.
But she had nowhere to go, no money, no support network. Everything she owned was inside that house, with the exception of the nightgown and single change of clothes she carried in her tiny case. So as the sun went down and the chill in the air picked up, she wrapped her jacket tighter around herself, lifted her chin, and returned to him.
And so, life went on. Dark days filled with misery and fear, with no way out. One day seemed to blend in with the next one week to another. The only bright spot, besides her children, was the once a month visits from Dave and his wife Sue. Dave was Charles’ best friend. The four of them would share a lovely dinner, followed by a game of cards, a few drinks and a chinwag.
The social interaction kept her sane, even if secretly she didn’t particularly like Sue. Sue was the female version of Charles. She openly berated Dave during dinner, putting him down, and nicknaming him Idiot. But in Lyn’s eyes it couldn’t be further from the truth.
Dave was the loveliest person she’d ever met and gave her faith in the male population. She focused her attention on him and his adventures, living vicariously through him. Because although he had a miserable home life, he had an exciting job in advertising.
When he would talk about an upcoming campaign, Lyn would be glued to the radio in the following weeks, waiting to hear the finished product. It was like sharing a tiny piece of Dave’s life, away from Charles and Sue. She would learn all of his advertising jingles off by heart and would hum along to them, like some would their favourite love songs. Because if she was completely honest with herself she knew she’d fallen in love with Dave. She tried to deny it, and then to fight it. But while she scrubbed the floors and did the housework, thoughts of what her life might have been like if she married Dave filled her mind and warmed her heart.
She would never act on it. She was an honourable woman. And besides, she doubted a man as handsome and sweet as Dave would be interested in her. Not that Dave’s opinion would even matter. She was stuck in a loveless marriage and years ago became resigned to the fact she would live out her bleak life by Charles side.
Until the summer barbeque of course. That’s when everything began. When her life began at the ripe age of 50.
To Be Continued…
Lyn and Dave
**Trigger warning: Domestic violence **
Lyn and Charles had invited Dave and Sue over for an informal barbeque dinner. Lyn stood at their outdoor dining suite which she’d decorated to an inch of its life. There were bright yellow napkins wrapped around the cutlery, matching the yellow gerberas in a vase at the centre of the table. Small tea light candles scattered across the tabletop gave the outdoor space a lovely ambience. Lyn was proud of how lovely it looked.
The wonder of the outdoor space didn’t last long. Charles came storming into the garden, letting the screen door bang behind him. He stopped and glared down at the table before his eyebrows dropped into a frown.
“What’s all this then?” he snapped, turning to face Lyn.
“Oh it was nothing. I just thought I might spruce up the old table a touch,” she managed to stutter out. The shift in Charles’ mood had the hair on her arms standing on end. She knew this look and tensed her shoulders, waiting expectantly for the swing of his hand.
“How much of my hard-earned money did you waste on this crap then?” He stepped closer to her, towering above her 5-foot frame.
She dared not move a muscle and continued to stare at the spot on the ground where there was a small chip in the cement.
“Nothing love. It was all just things we had laying around. I thought it might be nice to –“
“Why are you trying to get fancy all of a sudden? Is the Queen coming?”
She didn’t answer so he continued, his voice rising more with each new accusation. “Well? You think you’re too good for us now do you?”
He lifted his hand in the air and Lyn squeezed her eyes shut tight. Here we go. God please give me the strength to endure what is about to come.
“G’day everyone. We rang the doorbell but no one answered. We assumed you must have been out the back.” It was Dave’s voice. Lyn peaked out through one eye and saw Charles had now turned away from her. She let out her breath. Although she was under no pretence that she had avoided the beating, merely delayed it until later, she was thankful all the same.
“Dave! How are you old mate?” Charles greeted them. “And Sue, looking gorgeous as ever.”
Lyn fought not to roll her eyes. Such a schmoozer.
Dave glanced past Charles and met Lyn’s eyes. “Evening Lyn. What a lovely dress and oh my, that table.” He turned back to Charles. “You have a talented wife there Charles.”
Charles grumbled an inaudible reply before offering their guests a seat. Lyn popped into the kitchen to grab the salads while the meat sizzled on the barbeque. Dave looked gorgeous in his summer trousers and pastel shirt. Heat singed at the tips of her ears but she couldn’t help smiling at her own silliness. Acting like a teenager at the mere sight of Dave. It was ridiculous. She was ridiculous.
The night went well at first and the conversation flowed. Charles and Sue got through at least one bottle of wine between them, and Dave and Lyn shared the pitcher of juice. Sue was being her usual vicious self, yelling at Dave throughout the night. Lyn’s heart hurt, manifesting in real physical pain. Poor Dave. He deserved better. He deserved the world. But like her, he believed in the sanctity of marriage and was in for life.
Charles was busy bragging to Sue about his latest promotion as Sue batted her fake lashes and oo’d and ahh’d in all the right places. Dave winked at Lyn across the table and rolled his eyes, jokingly indicating Charles. She threw him a tiny grin and reached for the pitcher of cranberry juice, but Dave reached at the same time and they managed to tip it over, spilling the contents all over the table and each other.
Charles jumped up from the table, rage consuming him. He automatically backhanded Lyn across the cheek in one foul swoop. He’d acted on impulse and seemed to realise suddenly what he’d done in front of his friends. He glanced from Sue to Dave and back again before his glare finally fell on Lyn who had been knocked to the ground. No one said a word and the air prickled in shock.
To Be Continued…
Lyn and Dave.
**Trigger warning: Domestic violence **
Lyn, momentarily stunned, didn’t get up right away and the scene in front of her spun. In the entire 30 years she’d spent with Charles, he’d never hit her in front of anyone, certainly not in front of his best friends. He had an image he liked to uphold and wife beater didn’t really coincide with that.
Dave was at her side in an instant, helping her to her feet. His skin was cool against her own as he linked his arms through hers and pulled her up to face him. She risked a look up at him and saw a barrage of emotions flick across his face, one after another. Panic, shock, concern, confusion, and finally… pity.
Charles yanked Dave’s arm from hers. “Leave her alone. She needs to learn a lesson. Who does she think she is? The clumsy git, spilling juice over our guests like a damn child.”
Finally, Lyn found her voice. “I’m… I’m sorry,” she managed to stutter out. “I’ll go and get some cloths to clean this up.” She grabbed the saturated linen placemats. “I’ll put these straight in the wash.” She took off towards the laundry room to the sound of Charles’s mocking laugh.
“She’s so clumsy. Sorry Dave. Go and tell her to get you some of my pants so you can get cleaned up.”
Lyn let the door shut behind her and shoved the placemats into the machine before sliding down onto the floor and crying. It never got easier. Only harder. The more of her life she wasted and the worse the beatings got, the more she started to hope that he’d just kill her so she could finally escape him.
The back door squeaked and Lyn flew to her feet. It would be worse for her if Charles saw her crying. She wiped her tears on the back of her hand and waited for the laundry room door to open.
When it did, she let out a breath of relief. It was Dave. He rushed to her and pulled her into a hug. Seeming to melt into him, she felt safe and secure for the first time in thirty years and she never wanted it to end.
“Are you alright?” he whispered.
She nodded. Not trusting her voice.
“You can’t stay here.”
She shrugged and shook her head. What option did she have after all?
He pulled her back from him, leaned around the door and glanced through the window to where Charles and Sue were laughing and drinking like nothing had happened.
“How long has this been going on?” His voice wavered.
“Forever,” she managed.
“Oh Lyn. Sweetheart” was all he could say before wrapping her up in his arms again. They stood like that for what seemed to be an age. All the hurt she’d experienced over the years got pushed down. For now she wanted to enjoy a rare moment of kindness that was, for once, directed at her.
Finally, he pulled back. “You know, I can’t stand by and watch this happen to you.”
“You can’t?” She stared up at him, her eyes filling with yet more tears.
“No,” he whispered as he wiped a tear from her cheek. Their gaze met and she couldn’t look away. To stare at this face forever was surely too large of a wish to make.
He stooped and placed a gentle kiss on her cheek. She turned her face so his lips met hers and at that moment, battered and bruised in the laundry room, surrounded by dirty towels, her heart sang.
It was the most intense and passionate kiss she’d ever had. With it, came the realisation that Charles had never loved her. Not even at the very beginning. He had never kissed her with such tenderness. Why had she wasted her life on him?
Everything around her dropped away, including the fear of getting caught. The man she loved so deeply and desperately was kissing her. In case this would be the only true moment of pure happiness she ever experienced, she wanted to enjoy it and consequences be damned.
Their kiss seemed to last for hours but was still not enough. When they finally broke apart Dave shrugged. “Well I guess I’m not as good at hiding my feelings for you as I thought.”
Lyn’s head spun. What did he just say? His feelings? He had feelings for her?
They managed to get cleaned up in between stolen kisses and Dave made an icepack for Lyn’s swollen cheek. Charles and Sue hadn’t even noticed how long they were gone; they were so wrapped up in their conversation.
Lyn squared her shoulders as though preparing for battle and stood in the doorway mentally preparing herself. Dave stood right by her side. She turned to him.
“You know this can never happen again? We’re both married and I never thought I would be this type of person.”
Dave’s shoulders dropped and Lyn’s heart lurched in the knowledge she’d hurt him. “What type of person do you mean? The type that finally sticks up for themselves and reclaims their lives? Lyn, we’re 50 years old. I’ve been in love with you for the best part of 30 years but my blind loyalty and society’s convictions have kept me from really living. From going after what I really want.”
She gulped back the lump in her throat and shook her head. “Dave. I’m sorry. I just can’t. I’m not that sort. This is my life.”
“It doesn’t have to be,” his voice pleaded.
With tears in her eyes, she shook her head and strode down the path, back to the table, and back to Charles.
To be continued…
Lyn and Dave.
**Trigger warning: Domestic violence **
A few days later, Charles, surprised Lyn by calling her from his office in the city. He never called her. He said it was bad enough putting up with her at home, without talking to her at work as well. He’d even forbid her from calling him at work or dropping in. Lyn suspected it was so he could carry on having affairs with his secretaries without the fear of them finding out about his wife. Lyn didn’t care. She hoped he fell madly in love and left her. Then she’d be free. But sadly, that had never happened.
“Lyn, it’s Charles. Make sure you go to the grocery store and buy a leg of lamb. Dave and Sue are coming for dinner tonight. I want it to be special.”
Lyn’s heart flipped at the mention of Dave’s name, and Charles hung up without saying goodbye.
As excited as Lyn was at the prospect of seeing Dave again, there was a little bubble of worry which had wedged itself inside of her and was impossible to ignore. Dave and Sue visited once a month like clockwork. Never in 30 years had they only had three days in between visits. And why did Charles want it to be special? He never wanted any fuss over
anything. Airs and graces annoyed him, he always said.
She glanced at her watch and realised, if she was going to slow roast this meat she’d need to get to the store quick smart.
When Charles arrived home that night he had Dave and Sue with him. They came in and enjoyed a nice meal. The meat was cooked to perfection, practically falling off the bone when Lyn attempted to take it out of the baking dish.
Lyn stood up to clear the dishes, but Charles nodded, indicating for her to sit back down. The bubble was back. Something wasn’t right. She risked a glance at Dave, hoping for some reassurance, but he looked as confused as she was. She stood frozen with the plates still in her hand.
“Sue and I have something to tell you,” Charles began and glanced at Sue who nodded her approval. “There is no easy way to say this, but Sue and I… well… we’re in love and we want to be together.”
The top dish slipped from the pile in Lyn’s hands and crashed to the floor, shattering into tiny pieces. Charles’s eyes turned on Lyn and darkened. “Oh for God’s sake woman, sit down.”
She placed the rest of the dishes back on the table and slid into her seat. “Now, I’m sorry to do this to you old chap, it’s nothing personal,” Charles said and glanced at Dave before guiltily turning away.
Dave said nothing. Lyn wondered if he’d gone into shock and longed to reach out and touch his arm.
“Lyn, you’re going to have to move out,” Sue blurted out. “Charles and I have chosen to live here together so Dave can keep his house. We felt it was the least we could do in the circumstances.”
“That’s right,” added Charles. “I’m hoping it won’t affect our friendship.”
Dave shook his head in disbelief. “You affected our friendship the minute I found out how you treat Lyn. The only reason I still talk to you is so I can make sure she’s okay.”
“And what about me?” Lyn found her voice, and attached to it was every bit of hurt, anger and injustice she’d suffered throughout her marriage. “You’re just going to kick me out onto the street?”
Charles at least had the good grace to look ashamed. “I’m sure one of the kids will take you in,” he mumbled.
“How long has this been going on?” Lyn needed to know. She’d sacrificed her own happiness for years, and for what?
“Not that long,” Charles mumbled.
“Only about 15 years,” Sue added.
“Fifteen years?” Lyn screamed and Charles flew to his feet, his hand raised in the air. Lyn closed her eyes and waited. She heard a thud but felt nothing. When she opened her eyes, Charles was flat on his back and Dave towered over him.
“You will never touch her again, you hear me?” Dave’s voice shook.
“Oh for God’s sake idiot, look what you’ve done,” Sue screeched.
Then something magical happened. Amongst the chaos, the screaming, and the fighting, Lyn and Dave turned to each other and smiled. Then the smile turned into a laugh. Dave walked over without saying a word, took Lyn’s hand and led her out of the house and got into the car. They turned the music up and sang along to the radio as they drove away to start their
new life together. There was never any regret or sadness about what had just ended, because what was beginning was much more special.
**Charlie and Sue lasted about 18 months. He hit her, she hit him back and then left him for one of his colleagues.
**Dave and Lyn have now been married for nearly twenty years. They laugh together and still kiss each other as passionately as they did that first day in the laundry room. Lyn can’t stress enough that anyone living in a domestic abuse situation should do whatever they can to get out. Tell someone, ask for help, leave. If she had of known how wonderful life could be she would have made a very different decision while she sat on that curb on the very first day.
White Ribbon is a domestic violence primary prevention campaign – specifically,
we work to change the attitudes and behaviours that lead to violence against women.
If you or someone you know is experiencing violence and need help or support,
please contact one of the support hotline numbers in the link below.
To find local services near you and programs, please visit our Support Services page.
Call 000 for Police and Ambulance help if you are immediate danger. (From the White Ribbon Australia Website)