Martha closed her journal. She gently placed her shiny silver pen neatly on the centre of its textured black cover. A deep sigh reflected the relief she felt and she knew she had made the right decision.
It was almost finished. She, Martha Rose Herrington, would make a full and complete confession before she died. It was, after all, as much her story as anyone’s. Well, most of it was.
Her sister, Daisy, had carried those awful secrets to the grave with her but she, Martha, could not do that. Her moral conscience would not let her. Those terrible sins had tormented Martha for years. She felt that her immortal soul would never know peace if she did not unburden herself.
‘Let sleeping dogs lie,’ Daisy would say. ‘What’s done is done, Martha, and I don’t intend to spend my remaining years in disgrace from society.’
‘Don’t you think we’re already in disgrace, in God’s eyes, Daisy?’
There had been no reasoning with Daisy on the matter. She had always been stubborn. Mother used to say she was ‘pig-headed and selfish to the core.’
Martha braced one feeble hand on the corner of the writing desk for support. She pushed her frail, thin body upward, to an upright position, thankful that she still had good posture. Her aching joints foretold of wet weather in the days ahead. She needed no forecaster to tell her that.
With slow, careful steps she crossed the room to the window. Pushing aside the heavy curtains, she gazed longingly out across the sea. Not a breath of wind stirred the smooth surface today. It looked like a sheet of blue glass, just as it had when she arrived in this country 73 years ago.
If only she could go back in time, back to Scotland, back to a time before all the secrets and lies had taken over their lives. At least before the worst of it had happened. If only she had been strong enough to tell the truth and stand her ground. But mild-mannered little Martha Rose always did what others wanted her to do. She was meek, obliging, and honest as the day is long – except when she was sworn to secrecy. She could be counted on to keep secrets and, consequently, her young ears had been subjected to many shocking secrets and horrific confessions.
The sea stretched lazily towards the horizon until it blended with the sky. After a few minutes, Martha turned away from the window. She was tired and needed to rest a while before continuing her revelations.
Lying on her bed, she pulled up the worn patchwork quilt she had brought from Scotland with her. It was worked on both sides in neat little diamonds and had been painstakingly stitched for her wedding night. If only her short-lived marriage to Hedley had lasted longer, her life would have been so different. But she was a bride and a widow at the tender age of 17.