She sat, in her empty house, only the dog for company.
Alone, completely and utterly alone.
And where was he?
In another country, hundreds of miles away.
What was he doing? Working?
He told her he would be here, but at the last minute, work had interrupted his plans.
‘Too much to do’.
He hadn’t seen her in months, hadn’t returned her calls, despite his promises.
She knew now.
He was gone.
His words meant nothing.
She knew that now.
For the very first time, she saw her own destiny.
She’d fallen in love with a man who was devoid, empty, and hollow.
How could he do this do me?
He left me, alone and destitute.
Alone in this country.
Nobody to help.
She paced around the house.
Isolated, alone, desperate.
There it was, in the garage.
The wind was blowing, it was dark, and it was cold.
She found the answer, and she knew this was the only way.
A new century, a new millennium,
Out with the old……….
The only way to show him, maybe make him understand what he had done.
This would show him.
I’ll bleed to death
Long and slow.
No more than I deserve.
A way out, but not just any way out.
This is a statement.
A spectacular way out.
She picked up the bottle
The dog, as always, at her side.
She walked back into the house.
This is it.
Now or never.
‘I’ll show you.
She swallows……and swallows…and swallows…..
She fights the gagging sensation.
She holds the pillows, she realises her own despair.
Oh dear Jesus, how this hurts……
The pain, the blood
The intense, and all consuming PAIN………..
‘My family, my brother, my mother,……
What am I doing?’
She fights, she tries to resist
But it’s too late……
She loses the fight, the life ebbs away, slowly but surely.
Her last thought:
‘I hope you know what you did to me’
‘Oh why, dear Lord, why did you do this to me?’……………
Chapter one - Swept off my feet
Extract from my journal: Feb 10th 2002.
‘Well, eighteen months later and boy did things happen in my life!
I’m getting married in three months, and the future is looking bright for us! I’ve met the most wonderful man on the planet and he wants me to be his wife! I can’t believe it, really I can’t! How things can turn around so quickly! I’m so happy and full of hope! This is the turning point for me. I love him so much and I’m so lucky to have him!’
I am Sarah, and I was 29 years old when I made the decision to leave my hectic life in Berlin for a gentler way of life in Switzerland. It was a big decision to make, and certainly one that would turn my life both upside down and inside out.
I’d always had this idea I’d end up with an older man. I don’t know why or where it came from. I’d had plenty of failed relationships with men around my own age, so I guess I just decided I needed somebody older and wiser.
My life before had been hectic, fast, and even heinous. I’d spent my twenties living the party life. Work hard and party harder, that was my ethos. It had been great, but it had come at a price. By the time I hit twenty-nine I knew it was time for a big change. I needed to slow down. Perhaps this was where the idea of the older man was born in my psyche. Born from the knowledge that things must change: born from a desire to live a ‘normal’ and ‘stable’ life.
It had all happened so quickly I barely had time to register it. From making the decision to leave my current job and the big city behind, to finding myself on a plane to a new country and a new life, it seemed barely a heartbeat had passed.
Yet there I was, suddenly in a new land, full of new people and new promise. The contrast could not have been greater. I moved from a life in the big smoke, to life in the countryside. From all weekend ‘benders’, to farming landscapes and peaceful church chimes. How happy I was with my decision!
And then, before my suitcase was even unpacked (my furniture was still in transit!), there he was.
We met in our place of work. I was the latest addition to the Procurement team; he was the manager of a small department over in Marketing.
From the moment he walked through the door of his office (he was late that day, and I was already there, talking to a colleague) his attention focused solely on me. He immediately engaged me in conversation, completely ignoring the gentleman I was actually there to see. We spent about thirty minutes talking about me, when I’d arrived, how I was finding the new job etc. His attention was so fixed on me I remember feeling slightly awkward. Who was this stranger who had interrupted my meeting? And what did he want from me?
Physically, Bill made no impact on me whatsoever. He was short, overweight and balding. Worst of all, from my point of view, he was smoking a cigarette. At that point he had (so he told me) a twenty a day habit, yet from that day onwards, I never saw him smoke another cigarette.
In an effort to shift both his attention and the focus of the conversation away from myself, I asked him about his job, his department, and what his role in the company was. He seized on this opportunity to immediately arrange a ‘meeting’ with him the next morning so that we could discuss this in ‘more detail’. I agreed. I wasn’t busy at that time and I welcomed the opportunity, on a professional level, to be introduced to his department.
The next day, I duly attended the ‘meeting’, only to find it was just between Bill and myself. Instead of outlining his department’s function, he sat me down at his PC and called up a map of the local area. He then proceeded to explain in great detail where all the best restaurants and shops were located. He talked about his social life; which customers he regularly entertained; where he entertained them; and which wine is served in which restaurant. By the time he had finished his dialogue, it was conveniently lunch-time, so he suggested we go to the local Italian, where he’d treat me to pizza. As it was Friday, and my new boss was abroad on business, I gladly accepted. I felt comfortable with Bill as he was so very attentive. I was at ease, but nothing more. At that point he was still just a friendly manager who was happy to show the new girl on the block the way around.
By the end of lunch though, something had changed. I don’t know if it was the red wine he insisted I drink, or the never-ending rhetoric and humour. He had me laughing and chatting, and, most of all relaxing. By the time he dropped me back off at my office, we had arranged to meet that evening in a local hotel for drinks. I had a strange tingling feeling in my stomach. I felt somehow elated. I smiled for the rest of the afternoon.
What followed was a weekend that would change my life forever.
As I got ready that evening there was no thought in my mind that this would be a romantic liaison. I did not fancy Bill one bit. I was, however, extremely happy to be meeting him for this date, because he made me feel so comfortable. I thought he would be a great friend to have, somebody who was the life and soul, loved by all. I was flattered by the attention he’d shown me, yet I naively believed he was simply a nice man who wanted to do me a favour. He wouldn’t want anything romantic from me anyway. I was seventeen years younger than him, and already it was clear to me that he was intellectually out of my league. He was obviously a man of means, and highly intelligent. I was impressed by his command of the language, his knowledge of politics and the arts (all things which were alien to me, as I’d spent the last ten years sitting in night clubs talking nonsense to nobodies!). I was fascinated by his tales, and couldn’t wait to spend more time with him.
We met at a lake front five star hotel. He was there before me, and had already ‘taken the liberty’ of ordering our wine.
During the course of that first evening he bought two bottles of one of the most expensive wines on the menu. For a girl who was used to sipping Becks beer from the bottle, this was really quite something.
From the hotel bar we moved to a small nightclub in the basement, where the drinks continued to flow.
We exchanged tales of our respective pasts, and he told me that he’d been married, twice. His first marriage had taken place when he was very young and naïve, his second marriage was one of business convenience. It was a mutual agreement between himself and a friend (who happened to also be his accountant).
He told me he had three adult children by his first wife: no offspring from the second marriage.
I was fascinated, spellbound. This man had led a full and colourful life. He was well travelled, well versed, and so very experienced. Not only that, but he was clearly a successful businessman, who had ‘retired’ to his position in the company where we worked, in order to ‘kick back and enjoy life’ a little more.
I wondered what on earth it was that Bill could possible find interesting about little me. Here I was, just twenty-nine, and with no significant story to tell. Yet he seemed in awe of me. The perfect gentlemen, he appeared genuinely interested in everything I had to say. He paid me compliments, held open doors, and treated me with kindness and respect.
As the evening wore on I was becoming more and more drunk, and I was having an absolutely fantastic time.
It seemed Bill was too, because when it came time to leave the club, it was clear that neither of us wanted to leave the other’s company just yet.
‘Why don’t we go back to mine?’ He suggested.
‘I don’t know about you, but I’m starving, and I think we both need some food to help mop up all this wine!’
I had to agree, once out in the fresh air I was staggering somewhat. Not really a good look when you’re on a first date with somebody, but I felt so completely comfortable in his company by now, it really didn’t seem to matter. I gladly accepted his invitation; comfortable that he really was a perfect gentleman, and that we were going to become the best of friends.
That was the start of the weekend that would change the course of my entire life.
I woke up in the morning with my head spinning. At first I didn’t even know where I was. I looked around the room. I was in Bill’s bedroom, lying in bed fully clothed. I remembered him leading me here a few hours earlier. For a split second I felt panic, did I……?
Then I heard him moving around in the kitchen, and I realised he had let me use his bed, and had slept on the sofa.
‘Good morning Sarah! You look like you need a coffee!’
‘Morning Bill…..ouch….yes, coffee would be nice please’.
He was bright and breezy, and incredibly funny. I felt once again at ease, if a little perplexed and extremely hung over.
‘So, what shall we do today? How about I take you out and show you some of the sights? What would you like to do, name anything, we’ll do whatever you want’.
I couldn’t really think straight. I hadn’t planned on spending today with him as well, but when I thought about it, what else did I have to do? My furniture had still not arrived, so I was literally camping in my new flat. A day of sight seeing with Bill sounded like fun.
‘Actually Bill, I fancy getting some exercise to blow the cobwebs away a bit’
‘Perfect! Great idea! Do you swim? I know a lovely hotel with a spa, how about that for blowing cobwebs away?’
‘That sounds like a fantastic idea Bill’ I smiled. This was going to be a great weekend.
As he was handing me a coffee, my mobile phone rang. It was my mum. He indicated to me that he was going to take a shower. I took the call, and moved out to the balcony so I could speak to her. I didn’t want her knowing I’d just spend the night with a man (albeit not ‘with’ him), and I couldn’t face having to explain it. I’d only arrived in my new town a week or so ago, and I thought she’d probably start worrying if she knew I’d already started to get close to a man.
Whilst I was on the balcony, Bill suddenly put his head around the door; he was naked except for a towel. He proceeded to speak to me despite, knowing I was talking to my mother.
I shot him a nervous look, which made him stop talking and make one of those ‘oops’ faces.
She heard his voice, and immediately asked me who it was.
‘Oh, it’s a friend from work who has offered to take me into town today, he’s just arrived to pick me up’ I lied.
We went to a beautiful spa hotel on the banks of the lake. There was a small swimming pool and a Jacuzzi area. We leapt in the Jacuzzi and laughed with excitement. I was having an absolute ball.
Bill ordered drinks from the bar. Bloody Marys. I’d never had a Bloody Mary in my life. More alcohol!
At this stage we had the pool area completely to ourselves. It was a cold October Saturday morning after all, not many people were about. As the drinks were delivered Bill was just getting out of the pool. I walked over to the sun lounger area and lay down on one, a warm, fuzzy, and very contented feeling in my stomach. Once the waiter had gone, Bill was standing at the foot of my sun lounger. Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, he took down his swimming trunks.
He was standing right in front of me, full frontal. I didn’t know where to look! We were in a public place after all, and he must surely have known it was completely inappropriate to simply disrobe like he did.
‘What are you doing?’ I exclaimed.
‘What’s wrong? He innocently asked, standing there confidently.
‘In my family we always walked naked in front of each other, there’s nothing wrong with it!’
‘We’re not family, and we’re not in a family home!’ I was mortified by now, but I brushed it aside, and as he replaced his swimmers and handed me my drink, I laughed it off.
Looking back now I can see clearly that this incident, on my very first date with him, along with the phone incident earlier in the day, were classic signs of Bill asserting his ‘power’. This is classic narcissist behaviour. Put your stamp on something that is yours. This was something which was to happen many more times over the coming months and years.