A Shameful Consequence - By Carol Marinelli


‘TONIGHT they have their own rooms,’ Alexandros said. ‘Separate rooms.’

‘What harm …?’ Roula started and then stopped—she had learnt not to question Alexandros’s decisions, but on this one she had to stand up to him. It would be cruel to separate the babies, so she tried another route. ‘They will wake you with their tears.’

‘Let them cry—that is the way they will learn that at night you are with me.’ He ran a hand between her thighs, told her that tonight there would be no excuses, not that he listened when she made them.

Her only relief was the slam of the door when he left to spend the day sitting outside the taverna, playing cards and drinking, but Roula’s relief lasted just a moment before the countdown started—dreading his return.

Seventeen and the mother of twins, they were her only shining light. More beautiful than any other babies, she could watch them sleep for hours, the little snubs of their noses, pushed up by their fingers as they sucked on their thumbs, eyelashes so long that they met the curve of their cheeks. Sometimes one would open his eyes to look at the other. Huge black eyes would gaze at his brother, soothed by what he saw, and then close again.

Mirror image twins, the midwife had told Roula when she’d delivered them. Identical, but opposite, one right handed the other left, their soft baby hair swirled to the right on Nico, to the left on little Alexandros.

At almost a year, still they shared a cot, screaming if she tried to separate them. Even if their cribs were pushed together, their protests would not abate. Now tonight he would force them into separate rooms.

And she would hear their screams all night as her husband used her body—and Roula could not take it any more.

Would not.

Her father would surely help if he knew. Alexandros did not like her to go out, so she had seen her father only a couple of times since her marriage—he had wanted her to marry, the little money he got for his paintings could not support them both. He had been a little eccentric since her mother’s death; he preferred to be alone, but he would surely not want this life for his daughter and grandsons.

‘Now,’ she told herself, ‘You must do it now.’ She had maybe five or six hours before Alexandros would return. She ran down the hallway, pulled out a case and filled it with the few clothes she had for her babies, and then she ran into the kitchen to a jar she had hidden, filled with money she had been secretly hoarding for months now.

‘This is how you repay me?’ Roula froze when she heard his voice and then simply detached as he beat her, as he told her she was a thief to take from the man who put a roof over her head. ‘You want to leave, then get out!’ How her heart soared for a brief moment, but then Alexandros dealt his most brutal blow. ‘You get half …’ He hauled her to the bedroom where her babies lay screaming, woken by the terrible sounds. ‘Which one is the firstborn?’ He did not recognise his own sons. ‘Which one is Alexandros?’

And when she answered he picked up the other babe and thrust Nico at her.

‘Take him, and get out.’

She ran to her father’s, clutching Nico. Terrified for Alexandros left alone with him, sure that her father would help her sort it out. Along the streets she ran, till finally home was in view, except it was boarded up. Her father was now dead, the disgusted neighbours told her, for she had neglected him in his final days and had not bothered to attend his funeral. The worst was finding out that her husband had been informed, had known, and not thought to tell her.

‘We will get your brother back,’ she said to a screaming Nico. The local policeman drank regularly with Alexandros so he would be no help, but she would go to the main town of Xanos, which was on the north of the island, to the lawyer that was there.

She took a ride on a truck and had to pay the driver in the vilest of ways, but she did it for her son. She did it many times again when she found that the rich young lawyer wanted money upfront before helping her.

A little cheap ouzo from the lid meant Nico slept at night and she could earn

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