Kate had never imagined there would be a time when she wouldn’t have Peter in her life, and she knew that she was also in some ways clinging on to that familiarity. She’d never been very good with introspect, but she also knew Tilly was rarely wrong.

                “What should I do?”

 Tilly sighed, “Look what happens with Mason is just that what happens with Mason. This is about you moving away from Peter, stopping the guilt, the obligation, and realising that you deserve your own life. I know it’ll be hard. But you are not responsible for him.  

That completely floored Kate, but as she thought about the words her friend had spoken she realised that this WAS about her. If she wanted more from her life then it was her decision to make, and shouldn’t rest on whether or not she had a relationship with Mason. What happened with him, as Tilly said, was a separate issue. She just had to decide whether she could fight her own demons.

This was the first time she’d looked at herself at her life and she could feel the tears start to well. As they rolled down her cheeks she turned to Tilly, “it’s my fault he’s injured. It was all my fault.”

Tilly had heard this protest so many times, “he was driving Kate, he hit the ditch, not you.”

Kate shook her head, “I shouldn’t have let him leave, he was angry, upset, he’d been drinking...”

                “All his fault love, not yours!” She reiterated.

Kate shook her head again, “I was leaving him Tilly, I told him I didn’t love him anymore, that I wanted to move out of our flat...he wouldn’t listen, wouldn’t take no for an answer, so in the end I told him I’d met someone else, that I loved another man. I didn’t...I just couldn’t put up with him anymore, he’d become so controlling, he was getting his father’s arrogance and I’d had enough. When he stormed out of our home and got into the car I was relieved, I thought it would’ve been harder to get through to him. Then within half an hour the police were at the door...”

Tilly was in shock, mouth open, and it was moments before she could speak again, “why have you never told me that? I can’t believe you’ve carried that all these years.” Tilly was on her feet and pulled Kate up in to a bear hug. “And it is still not your fault you stupid girl! He made those decisions; he chose to do what he did. That was not your fault!”

Tilly’s anger was making it hard for her to formulate her words, “if he wasn’t in the state he was I’d be going straight to see Peter Wightman and giving him a piece of my mind.” Seeing that her friend was devastated, completely emotionally wrecked, she took her hands, “I can’t believe you haven’t told me this before. I’m amazed and really sad too, that you’ve carried it alone for so long...”

Tilly led her friend into the lounge and settled her on the sofa and poured her a large glass of brandy.

As the afternoon became evening, the two friends talked and talked. They’d always been close, but suddenly they were closer than ever. By the time Ashton appeared to drive Kate home, she’d agreed with Tilly’s suggestion that she see a counsellor. She’d also agreed that over the next few weeks she would start to separate from Peter.  She’d have to explain to his mother, and knew that it would implicate on her, but she had to finally start standing up for herself. Now as she brushed her teeth in the bathroom mirror, Kate was dreading the day ahead. Her ‘to do’ list was humongous, and firstly she had return to work after her few days sick the previous week. As she sat on the tube crossing the City, she couldn’t quite believe how much had happened since the day she left the building to find Mason outside.

Mason. She’d thought about him so much over the last twenty four hours, wondering where he was, if he’d dealt with the problems in the business, whether he was back in Dubai, or still in the city.  She’d been tempted to call him, just to hear his voice. But she hadn’t, she had to do this first. And as she finally strode out into the December sun, Kate smiled. This seemed to be a turning point in her life.

After a busy day playing catch up, Kate had her usual trip across town to visit Peter. He was in a particularly angry almost petulant mood, and the staff were more than grateful to see her. Taking his hand, she led him to one of the activity rooms and sat him down. After reading a few books, a couple of games of Cluedo – a difficult game for just two to play but Peter’s favourite, he settled in his room for the evening.

There was the same similar sense of relief as she made for the late night bus back to her home. It was as she was sat there, waiting for the vehicle to pull off that her phone rang. She saw Peter’s mother’s number pop up on her display and groaned, she wasn’t ready for this.

                “Clarissa? How are you? How’s your cousin? Is she better?”

The responding voice was upbeat, “I’m at the hospital now, she’s improving. Hopefully she’ll be home soon.” She could tell by Clarissa’s voice that there was a reason why she had called, and Kate felt apprehensive.

                “I was only hoping that as my cousin is coming home, and she lives alone...well I was hoping that I could maybe not do a few visits. I don’t know how else we can all manage.”

Kate sighed and blinked away the tears of desperation that welled in her eyes, “don’t you worry about a thing. I’ll be fine. And so will Peter. I’ll do your visits; it’s so much easier when one of us goes than if we don’t!”

Clarissa sighed, “We’ve spoilt him Kate, he expects too much...” There was a wistful sound to her voice and it almost broke Kate. She knew the older woman was feeling fragile, mortal almost, and worried incessantly about what would happen to Peter when she passed. That had been why they’d moved him to the Residential place he was in now. It was very expensive and a long way from his family home, but they had the best record of long term integration into society, the psychologists still held out hope that he’d manage to function on a fairly independent level as a fully functioning member of society. One day.

Clarissa loved the new home, had fallen in love with it instantly, but the family were almost bankrupt, an irony that Kate acknowledged but couldn’t find humour in. When Peter’s father died Clarissa envisaged financial comfort, after all they were an almost titled family. Unfortunately weeks prior to his death, he’d invested heavily in some form of scam deal. He’d lost everything bar the basic pensions that paid out a small amount on his death. So far Clarissa had managed to stay in the failing family home, but this lack of funds, the debt she’d been left with all meant that she couldn’t afford the new home for Peter in its entirety, so Kate paid half. That was the main reason that a successful adverting executive still lived in a rundown shared rental house. And the only thing she still hadn’t told her friend.

                “No Clarissa, I’ll manage Peter this week. But we really need to talk about things. Long term, you know?” So much for her new found resolution. She didn’t need counselling, she needed assertiveness training.  

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