Sitting Ben down, at his mothers, she had given us space, to tell him. He sat staring at me; I held his hands in my mine. I felt him tremble. I took a long deep breath, and just said it. I knew he understood what I was saying. As that was the same night that Richard raped me. I could not get that out of my head. I already loved this innocent life inside me. I had to believe that the baby was Ben’s. I could not allow myself to even think it wasn’t.
My first scan was coming up and I was nervous, but Ben had said he would come with me, and be there for me, he told me, he would take care of us, no matter what. I knew he was scared that this baby was not his. He had hugged me, and told me, he would love this baby no matter what.
The closeness of him felt good, but I did not want him to hold me close. Just the touch of his skin on mine, made my body react as if he had been the one to attack me. I did not mean to, I did not want to, but I could not help it. He had said we could take it slowly. I thanked him for that.
My case was due to come to court, and I had not heard whether Amy would come forward and admit he had done the same to her. I was unable to sleep, but then I got the news that she did that she actually did it, it was no longer one against just his side of events. Even though people at work still believed him, and we were lying, but as time went on, and I could not hide my pregnancy, they believed I was lying. Keeping his baby, but the truth was, I had no idea if this baby was Richards or Ben’s. I should not have to think about it, it should have been simple. Fall in love with the most wonderful man, settle down, and then maybe get married, but at least move in together, and then think about babies.
Instead, things were messed up. I was now five months pregnant, and living with Ben, but it was far from a happy experience. We bickered, that was my fault. I could not let him touch me; we may as well have been just friends, as after time he left me alone. We hardly spoke, and he was distant, again that was my fault.
My case against Richard was over, and even though she came forward, the case was dismissed. He won; I was devastated, unable to understand how he could get away with it. I had become good friends with Amy. She was there for me, she understood how I felt, how I could not cope with the news that he was back at work.
I arrived at the ward three days later, after he won and another lady approached me. She was young, pretty and pulled me to one side. She was scared, she was new, but even though Richard had not raped her, he had made inappropriate comments. She had heard about my case, and stayed clear, but it seemed he was determined to bed her. He followed her, she said, and she had seen him outside her house. She had called the police, she wanted my help. I wanted to send him down, he was a monster.
“If he did this to me, and Amy, and now you, do you think there are more out there?”
She nodded; I could see how scared she was. I felt her pain and hugged her tight, told her we would meet up with Amy, now there were three of us.
We would stand strong, united.
I arrived home, Ben was not there, and the place was quiet. I called out to Jessie, she tottered through and rubbed her head against my feet. I then heard it, loud banging on the door.
I placed my hand on the door, ready to open it, but then it occurred to me, who was it at the door. I had already half opened the door, when it was pushed open, and I was thrown to the floor, he was there, stood staring down at me. He was leering, angry. His face close to mine, his hands around my neck.
“This is all you fault,” he said, squeezing tighter.
What was he talking about, I wanted to ask, but no words escaped from my lips, this was it, my life was about to end, as my life was drained from my body. He was pushing harder, and I could not move, my baby was all I could think about, as the world turned black.
I had not expected to wake up, at least not in this world. I feared that I was dead. I could live my life in this new world me and my baby, but when I looked down, once I opened my eyes and saw that my bump was gone. Had I dreamt the whole thing, was I even pregnant.
“She’s awake,” I heard a voice I knew well, it was Natalie. She took my hand, and then I saw they were all there. All my friends, and Amy too, and Ben. He was crying.
“What happened?” I asked, fearing the worst, the words were hard to say, my throat was sore, my mouth dry. I then recalled the attack. “where is my baby?”
“I’m sorry,” Ben said, sitting beside me, taking my hand.
“No, you’re lying.”
“I’m so sorry, Julie, but she didn’t make it.”
“I want to see her. I want to hold her.”
“We can do that, when you are ready.”
Ready, when I was ready, I was meant to be a mother to a baby girl, no matter who had fathered her. But instead I was about to see her, my daughter.
They brought her through wrapped in a pink blanket. The midwife, my friend Kerry, she had tears in her eyes. She laid her in my arms, and told me she was so sorry.
She was perfect, tiny, but perfect, a mop of brown hair, she had all ten fingers and ten toes. I removed her from the blanket, and laid on her bare skin. I knew it was not possible to bring her back, but I wanted to hold her, to feel her close to me. I knew what had happened, I knew it in my heart. Richard, he had killed her, starving her tiny little body of oxygen.
They had left me alone, but I asked Ben to stay, to sit with us. I wanted to know, whose she was, who was her father?
“I know this is hard to hear, and I should have asked first, but I had a DNA test done on her. I need to know if she was mine. Or his.”
I nodded, understanding, I wanted to know the truth too. I took his hand in mine, and said I was so sorry for the way I had been, but I was scared, scared of being touched.
“I know, but we can make it, I love you, Julie. From the moment we met, I knew you were the one. I want to support you, be there for you, one day marry you. I will wait for you to be ready. I will be love you for the rest of our lives. I know that this is not something you want to hear either, but we can have more children in the future. She will never be forgotten, she will always be our first daughter, no matter who her biological father is. I love her as much as I love you.”
I swallowed, and realised he was hurting as much as I was. The scar of the c-section would heal in time, but the pain seeing my baby dead in my arms would take the longest time to heal. I wanted to hold her longer, never let her go, but I had to let her go. Let her rest in peace.
So much more needed to be organised. A funeral, such a tiny box, for a tiny body. I did not want to do it, Ben said he would organise it all, his parents wanted to help. His mother had been there for us too, she was an amazing lady and I loved her like a mother, she had held me tight and told me all would be okay. It may not feel like the right thing now, but if that baby had been Richards, it was for the best. She told me to think of it like that, don’t think it was Ben’s, because that would break her heart, as it would mine.