Part Sixteen

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                “Won’t you come for actual Christmas Day Katie? We haven’t seen you since the wedding and that was almost two months ago.” Kate sighed at the desperation in her mother’s voice and gripped the phone tighter.

                “I know Mum, and I promise that after Christmas it’ll be better. I’m coming Christmas Eve morning; I’ll be there all day.  But I have to go to Peter’s.”

Her mother sighed, “I have to be grateful for the scraps you throw my way.”

Kate’s heart sank, her mother sounded more defeated than she’d ever known, and it was all her fault. But if this meeting with Clarissa that evening went to plan, she’d use Christmas to start the ball rolling, distancing herself emotionally from Peter. She’d still help out, visit, hell she’d still pay for his care, but she couldn’t give up her life for him not anymore. It made sense to her, but she had no idea how Clarissa would take the news.

Clarissa Wightman was a very glamorous woman, no doubt in the past she’d been a beautiful woman, but the pressures of an over demanding husband, and a similarly spoilt son, had taken its toll. The last six years with Peter being as he was had further aged the woman. When Kate entered the small cafe near the Residential home she immediately spotted the older woman sat primly at a window table perusing the menu with a head titled to allow her to read through her bifocals.

The smile when she saw Kate was warm and genuine, jumping to her feet in an elegant fashion; she hugged Kate giving her a friendly kiss on the cheek.

                “You’re looking well Kate! How are things?”

Kate shucked off her coat then lowered herself into the seat opposite Clarissa, “I’m good, tired, but that’s the build up to Christmas.”

                “You are still coming? Aren’t you?” the sudden surge of desperation in the other woman’s voice caused the hair on Kate’s neck to rise, there was that guilt filled suck into the family that she’d been unable to resist over the years.

                “I am coming,” she offered gently. “But to be honest with you Clarissa, I really need to discuss things with you.”

A waitress appeared and the two of them ordered coffee, when they were alone again the older woman turned to Kate, “what do you mean?”

                “Well...” It was so bloody hard to find the words. “I’ve spent the last six Christmas days with you all, my mother’s not getting any younger, I missed my father’s last Christmas, and I may well have a niece or nephew by this time next year.”

                “So you want to spend next Christmas with your family? I don’t know how Peter will cope with that change...and to be apart from him...” She looked sad, and suddenly Kate’s worst fears were realised, Clarissa thought she wanted Peter to go with her, she couldn’t envisage Kate not being there for Peter.

                “Well he can still come to you, at the end of the day Clarissa; I do need a little bit more space. I work hard and spend most of my spare time babysitting Peter.” She said the hard words gently. “I thought by now there’d be some come back from him, that he’d improve. It’s hard getting no support and no care back from him.”

Clarissa looked genuinely stunned, “I had no idea.”

Kate sighed, “As a parent you’re used to unrequited, unconditional love, and the fact that he needs you so much is something you’ve always had. But to be honest with you, it’s not the role of a partner. I’m lonely, the only role I have with Peter is that of a carer. And that is hard for me.”

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