Wednesday, August 7, 2013. Anna is at a meeting for new mothers at her local Starbucks when one of the women in the meet-up group enters holding a newspaper bearing the headline “WAS MEGAN A CHILD KILLER?” Anna stares at the headline for a moment before bursting into tears. Evie immediately starts crying too. After freshening up in the bathroom, Anna takes Evie and hurries home, afraid the other mothers will judge her for having hired a potential “child killer” as a nanny. Anna tries to call Tom as she hurries home, but his phone goes straight to voicemail.
For Anna—a woman whose life revolves entirely around her identity as a mother—having her former nanny exposed as a potential “child killer” isn’t just frightening—it’s shameful and embarrassing, a marker of her insufficiency as a mother. Not only is Anna dealing with the tragedy of Megan’s disappearance, but now she must also confront her own lapses in judgment—and how they reflect upon her.
At home, Anna cannot resist the temptation to read the story in full online. She is relieved to find that it is sensationalistic and highly vague, though it does suggest that Megan may have killed her own child 10 years ago—and that this murder could be a motive for someone killing her in return. Tom calls Anna back and urges her not to believe what she reads in the papers. Anna wants to believe Tom is right, yet she cannot help but feel that she always knew something was “off” about Megan.
This passage demonstrates that Anna and Tom are not necessarily a united front. Despite their idyllic-seeming life, Anna is unable to make Tom see the validity of her fears: first about Rachel, and now about Megan.
That evening, when Tom gets home, Anna confronts him angrily about needing to leave Blenheim Road. Between the passing trains, Rachel snooping around, and Megan’s disappearance, Anna has had enough. She gives Tom an ultimatum: she needs to leave. Tom insists that they won’t be able to afford to live anywhere else. Anna suggests Tom ask his parents for help, but Tom says that he’s not speaking to them because of how they treated him when he left Rachel for Anna. Anna feels guilty for starting a fight with Tom—but she cannot erase her desperation to get away from Witney.
Anna wants to get out of Witney, but she and Tom are definitely not on the same page about leaving. Though Anna is being perfectly reasonable given what’s happened, she somehow still ends up feeling badly about raising the concerns she has. This illustrates how profoundly women are conditioned to consider everyone else’s needs before their own and to squash their intuition at every turn.