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Authors: Alice Lawrence,Megan Lloyd Davies

Daddy's Prisoner

BOOK: Daddy's Prisoner
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Daddy’s Prisoner
 

 

First published in Great Britain by Simon & Schuster UK Ltd, 2009
A CBS COMPANY

Copyright © 2009 by Alice Lawrence and Megan Lloyd Davies

This book is copyright under the Berne convention.
No reproduction without permission.
All rights reserved.

The right of Alice Lawrence and Megan Lloyd Davies to be identified as the authors of this work has been asserted by them in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

Simon & Schuster UK Ltd
1st Floor
222 Gray’s Inn Road
London WC1X 8HB

www.simonandschuster.co.uk

Simon & Schuster Australia
Sydney

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

ISBN: 9781847398079

eBook ISBN: 9781849830553

Typeset by M Rules
Printed by CPI Cox & Wyman, Reading, Berkshire RG1 8EX

 

To my mum, my children and my big brother

 
CONTENTS
 

PROLOGUE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINETEEN

CHAPTER TWENTY

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

CHAPTER THIRTY

 
PROLOGUE
 

I turn on the grill before bending to open the fridge door. Tea is going to be late tonight because we’ve been in the park for too long. I know I should be getting the children into bed because school starts early tomorrow but it was such fun watching them play – Emma and Lily laughing as Tom chased his ball. I didn’t have the heart to force them all back indoors when I knew they were enjoying the fresh air. Now at last we’re back home and the girls have had some yoghurt to keep them going until their food is ready. Tom, though, doesn’t want to wait and wraps his arms around my legs as I pull the sausages out of the fridge and put them on a baking tray.

‘Hungry, Mummy,’ he says as I slide the food under the grill.

‘Oh, baby boy,’ I murmur. ‘It won’t be long now.’

Bending down, I kiss Tom on the top of his hair – so soft, it smells almost sweet – before picking him up and carrying him into the lounge. The girls are playing and the TV is blaring in the corner as I walk towards it. The news is on but even so I know there’ll be trouble when I turn the volume down. I smile to myself as I bend down. Why are kids so addicted to TV these days?

A face appears on the screen as a voice starts speaking: ‘An Austrian man has admitted imprisoning his daughter in a secret dungeon for twenty-four years.’

My hand freezes in space.

‘Josef Fritzl has told police he fathered all seven of his daughter Elisabeth’s children.’

I can’t breathe. My head rushes.

‘Police have confirmed that Miss Fritzl became pregnant six times during her imprisonment. One baby died soon after she gave birth to twins, three children were brought up by her parents after her father claimed she had abandoned them and three remained with her in the dungeon underneath an anonymous suburban home in the Austrian town of Amstetten.’

My legs tremble as I step backwards. My body feels heavy. Tom’s arms are around me but I can’t turn my head to look at him. I want to. But I can’t.

I see a photo of a man on the screen. Grey hair and moustache. Unshaven. Blue eyes. Dead eyes. Just like the ones which kept me prisoner for so long.

Pictures flash into my head. The key turning in the front door. Windows nailed shut. Knives and guns gleaming in his cabinet.

I try to breathe.

Elisabeth. Her father. Six pregnancies. Just like me. Six children who survived. Not like me. My heart turns as I think of Jonathan and Caitlin.

Elisabeth was in a dungeon? At least I felt fresh air on my face sometimes, even if he was watching me every minute. I had glimpses of life, even if I couldn’t live it before being locked back up again.

‘Mummy?’

I look up. Lily is standing before me.

‘Are you okay, Mummy? You look funny?’

‘I’m fine, darling,’ I whisper as I pull her to me. ‘I just need a cuddle.’

Emma runs over and I wrap my arms around my children, trying to forget the pictures crowding into my head as I feel their warmth against me.

‘He’s gone now,’ I whisper to myself over and over again. ‘You made sure he left.’

But my body won’t listen. My breath is ragged, my heart thudding as I hold on to the girls and their brother.

I wasn’t the only one.

There was another man like my father.

Another daughter like me.

Elisabeth.

 
CHAPTER ONE
 

Much of my past has been locked away so deep inside that I am scared of setting it free; so many memories packed tight into the tiniest, darkest corners that I am afraid to let go. It feels as if I’m standing on the edge of the sea with the tips of the water curling over my toes, all the time knowing a wave could crash over me at any minute if I remember too much. When you’ve seen hell, you learn ways of forgetting so that you can quickly escape when you’re taken back there in your dreams.

But I can’t keep the past locked up for ever and, by telling my story, I hope to show that monsters don’t always live in fairytales and things which happen in news pages aren’t always a world away – they can be just around the corner. I spent years locked in flats and houses on streets which looked just like any other. Sometimes I was even allowed out into the real world but iron bars are not the only kind of prison. I wasn’t hidden in a tower dreaming of a prince to rescue me but an ordinary someone who would reach out to help a person I’d been taught to believe was worse than worthless. A nobody, a shadow, a freak.

Much of what I can remember from when I was a child is broken into pieces and it’s hard to put a date and time on it. But I can remember pointers – whether my younger brothers and sisters were babies or toddlers, for instance – which help order my memories. The earliest one I have is of a Christmas when my younger sister Laura was about one. That means I must have been around six, my older brother Michael was eight and little Simon was five.

It had taken a while to get used to having a sister because my brothers and I had been on our own together so long. Before Laura arrived with us, we’d been told once before that we were going to have a brother or sister and had got excited as we tried to choose a name. All us kids were named after someone special like relatives or the musicians and actors that Mum loved.

But after we’d thought up names for the new baby and watched Mum’s tummy grow bigger, she disappeared one day and came home empty-handed. She didn’t look like Mum any more and her face was white as a ghost’s as she told us the baby was being looked after by the doctors. All I could do was silently wonder what had happened because no one mentioned our brother or sister any more. When I was older, Mum told me she’d had a boy who was stillborn and it was her fault because she’d been stupid and moved furniture. But she didn’t look me in the eye when she told me and by then I knew enough not to be sure I could believe her.

So I didn’t know what to think when Mum told us once again that she was having a baby. Would she really bring a brother or sister home this time? She did – a baby girl called Laura – and, after two brothers, I loved having her to play with. Even though I was little, I liked helping Mum out with the baby and as Christmas approached the year after she was born, I got excited thinking about Santa Claus.

We didn’t have many toys and most of what we did have were things for the boys like plastic soldiers and cars. However, a few weeks before Christmas I’d seen an advert for a doll’s house with pink walls, flowered curtains and furniture in every room. My heart was set. The year before I had been given a Barbie doll which hadn’t come in a shiny box like the ones I’d seen in shops. But I loved her anyway and if she had a beautiful house to live in then Laura and I could play with it.

‘I must be a good girl,’ I told myself night after night. ‘Because then maybe I’ll be given the doll’s house.’

When I told Mum what I wanted, she said I should write a letter to Santa Claus.

Maybe I can make Daddy smile and laugh, I thought to myself as I wrote. Then Santa Claus will know I’ve been good.

Of course, even then I knew our Christmases were not like other people’s because I’d heard girls at school talking about trees and turkeys, which we didn’t have. But even so I hoped for the doll’s house and waited patiently for weeks, dreaming of it every night. When the day finally came, Michael and Simon opened their presents to find they’d each been given a cap gun, sheriff ’s star and hat. We all knew Dad liked such things because he had a shield with real knives sticking out of it hanging on the wall and that meant the boys had to like those things too. But as my brothers looked at their presents, they started squabbling over one of the guns and suddenly I heard a crack. My stomach swooped.

‘You’ve broken it, you little bastard,’ Dad shouted as he lunged at Michael.

My brother flew off his feet as my father’s hand smashed into him and I lifted up baby Laura to run behind the sofa, which was where we hid when Daddy got angry. Crouching down, I could hear Michael starting to cry. We just had to be quiet and then we would not get into any more trouble. Hearing another crack, I held on to Laura as Dad snapped the damaged gun clean in two and threw the bits across the room.

‘Do you like it now, eh?’ Dad yelled at Michael. ‘No fucking gun any more for you, is there? Your brother can have what’s left.’

I waited until the room was finally quiet again before crawling out from behind the sofa. Dad was watching the TV. The argument was over. My brothers and I looked at each other. Now maybe I could have my present and my heart beat hard as Mum put a small package into my hand.

BOOK: Daddy's Prisoner
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