I had been married to Voldemort (I hope JK Rowling doesn’t mind me using that name, although I have found that a surprising number of women have at least one Voldemort in their pasts) for fifteen years and almost exactly nine months when I found his secret.
He was away at one of his many ‘Gentlemen Only’ dinners. This one was, I think, in Shrewsbury. He belonged to several societies and was well-known in our small town. We were due to be having a dinner party, the following day. I had been shopping for all the necessary ingredients – which weren’t that many, since the meal was based around the life of William McGonagall, http://www.mcgonagall-online.org.uk/ whose only real claim to fame was his appalling poetry. The most famous of his poems describes the collapse of the Tay Bridge http://www.mcgonagall-online.org.uk/gems/the-tay-bridge-disaster and one of my great, great uncles had been fireman on the last train to get across the bridge safely. McGonagall evenings are held back to front, with dessert first, rather like a higgledy-piggledy version of a Burns Night Supper. The food is simple, bad poems are recited and dried peas are thrown at the reciter if the recitation is not ‘dramatic’ enough in its presentation.
Before beginning the preparations, ironing the tablecloth and napkins – I wanted to check and print out the menu and order of events. This file had been saved on Voldemort’s computer which was permanently linked to his printer. Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to remember the exact title, so I decided to look in the files themselves, but something wasn’t right. I’m not a computer expert and, to this day, I’m pretty sure that I pressed a wrong button, somewhere, but suddenly, in front of me were a load of nameless, green shield-shaped things with a list of numbers beside them. I’d never seen anything like this, before, but I assumed that Voldemort had been tinkering around and that these were now what all the files looked like.
I clicked on the first one. What appeared on the screen in front of me was not, exactly, a menu. There were nine, small squares, three by three, each containing pictures of small boys, all naked, all scared, some with the fixed facial expression that we had been taught to recognise during teacher-training as one of the first signs of abuse. In almost all of them, a man, or part of a man, with no obvious distinguishing features, was present.
At that moment, time stopped. The room around me disappeared. There were only those children and me and the unseen presence of my husband. Then, suddenly, everything that I had known, everything that I was, rushed away from me leaving me alone, a tiny pinprick of self in a sea of black. My ears sang, (Top B flat if you want to know) my heart thumped with the strength and heaviness of a hundred kettledrums (I went to music college, when I was younger – hence the musical allusions) in the silence and then, with an extraordinary violence, my present situation exploded back into my consciousness. I closed the file and clicked on the next icon. This time, at first, I couldn’t understand what I was seeing. It was only when a young face, partially obscured by blonde hair, came into view that I realised what was on the screen.
I was shaking so much I could hardly control my arms, let alone my hands. I switched the monitor off and then, covering my mouth (I couldn’t be sick on the new carpet of Voldemort’s study – how foolish we can be at times, in retrospect I should have vomited all over it!) I stood up. At least, I thought that I was going to stand up. My legs were having none of it. So, mouth firmly closed, swallowing bile, I crawled to the stairs that would take me from the top floor of the house down to the next, where the nearest loo was located. I bumped down the stairs, like a small toddler, feet then bottom, feet then bottom, until I reached the safety of the floor and scrabbled through to the toilet.
I was sick. Not a lot, but enough to have made the journey downstairs worthwhile. Then, curled up on the floor, by the sink, I tried to think.
Lovely ladies, I realise that this has been a bit difficult and I’ve left out a certain amount of what I saw, there’s no need for too much detail. I hope that it hasn’t been too upsetting. Take care.
Yours, The Tea Drinker. x