A Woman Scorned
What drove me to it? A combination of things, really. Anger.
Humiliation. The depth of Charles's deceit and his lack of commitment to our
marriage. There's only so much you can take and after twenty years I'd reached
I was of sound mind when I carried
out the assault. I wasn't drunk or stoned or acting in self-defence. I knew
what I was doing and was prepared to take full responsibility for my actions.
Unlike some in this place. Prisons are full of innocent people claiming to be
victims of a miscarriage of justice and they use visiting time to air their
Take the girl at the next table.
Stitched up by the police, apparently. She was clutching a child's painting and
sobbing uncontrollably, begging a bloke with tattoos and piercings to get her
out of this shit hole.
I was waiting for Jessica to arrive,
wondering whether she'd decided I wasn't worth the effort. I had attacked her
lover, after all. The fact that he was also my husband was neither here nor
Charles was a successful financier in
the City. Charismatic and sexily arrogant, he was also a serial adulterer. Very
discreet, I grant you, but a womaniser all the same. His affairs were usually
short-lived. He was attracted to women who weren't interested in him. He
relished the challenge, the thrill of the chase. Once he had them hooked, he
I always knew. The good humour, the
spring in his step, the lavish gifts he rewarded me with for turning a blind
eye. I never felt threatened, though. These women meant nothing. They were just
conquests, passing fancies. I was his wife; the one he came home to, the one he
cared about the most.
Until he met Jessica.
I was with him when his restless gaze
fell upon her at a prestigious charity do. She looked to be in her
mid-twenties, with a brush-stroke figure, honeyed skin and seductively messy
hair - casual chic rather than vampish glamour. She also possessed the liquid
movement and easy elegance of a racehorse.
Charles was captivated. Struck by a
thunderbolt right there in front of me. I felt powerless. They exchanged no
more than a dozen words but it was enough. Her smoky, sensuous eyes said it
all. Come and get me...
Deep down, I knew then that I'd lost
him. Jessica was different. She intrigued and excited him. He pursued her for
weeks while I clung pathetically to the hope that the affair would run its
course, that he would come to his senses and life would settle back into its
My nerves were in shreds. The same
thought hurtled repetitively round my mind like a bluebottle trapped in ajar.
What would I do if he left me? In spite of it all, we were a team. A
partnership. I worshipped Charles and did everything for him. He was the focus
of my existence, especially after being told we would never have children.
He became very distant, shutting
himself away in the study whenever he was at home. I had no idea what his
intentions were. The uncertainty drove me crazy until eventually I was forced
to confront him.
'Do you love her?' My throat felt so
tight I could hardly speak.
'Yes.' Charles looked at me with
contempt. 'Far more than I could ever love you.'
He left three days later with barely
a backward glance. I couldn't take it in. It was unreal, like watching a video.
For a while I couldn't function, even at the most basic level.
The blinkers came off when the estate
agent arrived to value the house, the gloves when Charles petitioned for
divorce citing irreconcilable differences. I was livid. There was no mention of
adultery. He ended all contact and we communicated through our solicitors. I'd
been deleted from his life.
I looked at the clock. Twenty minutes
left and still no sign of Jessica. The girl at the next table made a sudden
grab for her bloke and wailed, 'My baby! I want my baby!' The screws were on
her in a flash and dragged her away, screaming.
I caught his eye and smiled
'She misses the kid,' he said with a
Children. That's what finally pushed
me over the edge. I was clearing the shelves in Charles's study when a folded
sheet of paper fell out of an old textbook. It was a letter from a private
clinic, confirming that his vasectomy had been successful. The date swam before
my eyes. March 1985. Six months before we were married.
I shook violently. Then I went numb.
I'd suffered for years believing I couldn't give Charles the family he said he
wanted. At times the guilt had been overwhelming. I'd tried so hard to make it
up to him. No wonder he'd insisted on me seeing a particular doctor. Charles
had probably bribed him to say I was infertile.
I couldn't let it lie. I needed to
have it out with him but was refused entry to his office building. My phone
calls and emails were blocked. His solicitor flatly refused to tell me where he
was living, so I resorted to a bit of detective work.
I felt sure he was shacked up with
Jessica. She was a model and had her own website, which gave details of the
agency through which she could be contacted. It also listed the photographers
she'd worked with. I pretended to be one, phoned the agency and in less than a
minute had elicited Jessica's home address from some dopey receptionist.
It was a town house on the outskirts
of the city. I parked within sight of it one evening and waited. Jessica
arrived home first. She appeared to have forgotten her keys and reached behind
a security light for a spare set. Charles rolled up ten minutes later.
I marched over and hammered on the
door. Jessica was about to discover what a heartless bastard he was. Charles
answered it, a butcher's apron slung round his waist.
I barged past him into the hall and
through to the kitchen. A stir-fry was sizzling in a wok.
'Very cosy,' I said. 'You're quite
the little chef. Where is she? She needs to hear what I've got to say.'
Charles laughed harshly. 'I doubt it.
You're of no interest to anyone, so get out.'
I waved the letter from the clinic in
front of him. 'How could you be so cruel? Letting me think I couldn't have
Unmoved, he threatened to call the
police and have me escorted off the premises. I told him to go ahead. It would
be a couple of hours at least before they responded, if they turned up at all.
I went to find Jessica. She was upstairs having a bath with the radio going
He threw me out before I could get to
her, warning me that if I called again, he'd get the courts to issue a
restraining order. I sat in the car for a while, too shaken up to drive.
Charles had shown no remorse at all. Not a flicker. What had the last twenty
years been about? Had he just been making do until the right woman came along?
Any love I had left for him died
there and then.
The attack wasn't planned. It just
happened. It was early afternoon and I thought the town house was empty when I
let myself in with the hidden set of keys. I'd become obsessed with Jessica and
wanted to know everything about her. What did Charles see in her? What set her
apart from all the others?
The spare bedroom was lined with
mirrors and full of clothes and accessories, as you would expect from a model.
There were more than sixty pairs of shoes and several wigs. I put one on, a
strawberry blonde number that reached below my shoulders.
I'd lost so much weight since Charles
had left that I discovered I could squeeze into some of Jessica's outfits.
There was a striking red dress with a slit up the side that looked rather good
with the wig. I posed and pouted in front of the mirror. My God, I thought. I
could almost be her...
A noise from the next room disturbed
me. I grabbed a pair of dressmaker's scissors from the window sill, tiptoed
onto the landing and slowly pushed open the bedroom door.
Charles was in bed with some woman.
It wasn't Jessica. They were both asleep – Charles on his back, the woman on
her side facing him with an arm flung possessively across his body. I wanted to
laugh. The dirty dog was still up to his old tricks. I wondered if Jessica
Without a thought for the
consequences, I took the scissors in both hands and stabbed him twice in the
chest. Then I stabbed the woman. He died instantly but she survived and
testified in court. The guilty verdict was unanimous.
There was a huge fuss in the papers.
The tabloids ran the story for days and even managed to unearth a picture of
Jessica wearing the red dress.
I destroyed the frock straight away.
And the wig. The scissors are lying on a river bed somewhere. The police
treated me with kindness and courtesy throughout and I was only too pleased to
assist with their investigation.
A bell rang, making me jump. Visiting
time was over. Jessica had obviously changed her mind about seeing me. Pity.
I'd been looking forward to our meeting. I stood up and pushed my chair beneath
the table. Maybe next time...
I don't regret what I did or have
sleepless nights. Jessica can protest all she likes about mistaken identity. It
cuts no ice with me. She took my husband. That's theft in my book and thieves
should be punished. Jessica had it coming and deserves to be where she is.
©2009 Hilary Middleton
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