Ariadne had been feeling as though she was becoming a crutch for Patrick, he needed some time alone, sure he was going out for walks and such, but she was always in the house when he returned. He was getting used to her being there all the time, she was happy to support him and do everything she could that would help, but she was worried that he would become too reliant on her and she on him. Though she started off trying to help Patrick, she had begun to feel comfortable in the house, she didn’t want to go back to her own place, she had gotten used to people and the thought of staying alone started to unnerve her. She didn’t have a chance to get over the fears, she had gone from being attacked to living with Patrick. If she didn’t try to change the situation soon it would just get harder for both of them. She decided she’d go back to her own place for a few hours, he’d be able to look after himself for dinner. Even if was just a few hours it would be good to get used to being alone again, in her own place, not in Patricks. The locks had been changed, as had the alarm code, though she still didn’t know how Joe had managed to break in. She didn’t want to go back, not really, but she knew she had to. She hadn’t been back since the attack, her parents had stopped in to collect some clothes for her and had dropped them off. She needed to go back, even if it was only for a short while. She expected that she’d end up moving to a different place soon anyway and she wanted to confront her fears before that happened.
Patrick was in the nursery, what was the nursery, when she told him she was leaving, he nodded, “ok, see you later.” She left the room and wondered if it was a good idea to leave him alone, after all, it was a big step for him, one that would be emotionally tolling. She paused at the door for a few minutes, Then realised she was just making excuses. If she didn’t go now she might never go. She couldn’t spend the rest of her life waiting to be attacked, looking over her shoulder all the time.
The drive was longer than it should have been, she drove under the speed limit, it still seemed strange to drive, to have the freedom. She was a nervous driver, but slowly her confidence was growing. When she pulled up outside the house things looked normal, there were no broken windows, no alarms, but there was nothing like that the first time either. She had been assured the house was safe now that the locks had changed, apparently they were the best locks that she could get. She didn’t particularly believe this though, as far as she was concerned, a lock was a lock and putting too much faith in them could be dangerous. She thought that no matter where she went, she would never trust locks again. She got out of the car and went up to the door, trying to appear confident. At the door she stopped and put the key into the lock, forcing her hands to steady, it took her a few tries to insert it. Finally the key clicked in and she she turned it, it was stiff, heavy. It clunked a few times, then she pushed the door open. She stepped inside and closed it gently. She had a brief moment of panic, of questioning, should she leave the door open? What if someone came in behind her, she should close it, but what if they were already in the house? She tried to slow her breathing, hoping it would calm her. She quickly went through the house, scanning each room for intruders. Once the entire house was clear, she relaxed. It appeared safe, though she regretted coming alone. She went and checked the fridge first, hoping it had been emptied, but it hadn’t. The food inside was starting to mold and there was a dank, heavy odour spreading through the kitchen. She found the black bags and quickly emptied it. Once the food was in the bag she knotted it and placed it by the door, hoping she’d remember to put it outside. If she forgot the place would smell atrocious. She cleaned up a bit, her parents had cleaned a little, but not much. She tidied the place up, trying to stay as long as possible, the longer she spent here alone the better. As she worked she had the radio on low, so she could hear someone come in. The noise helped distract her as she worked.
Finally she had to face the bedroom, the room where he had first confronted her. She had only looked inside briefly to make sure it was safe, since then she had avoided it. She stepped inside, the room looked clean. She was about to leave when she saw an envelope sitting on her pillow, she didn’t remember it being there before. She approached it warily, as though expecting a trap. She opened the letter and pulled out the piece of paper, scanning over it. As she did she started to shake. She looked around, making sure she was still alone, her breathing quickened, she couldn’t do this. She just couldn’t. She left the house, the radio still played softly, the bag of rubbish still sat by the door. She got into the car and put the key in the ignition, before she turned it she spun around, convinced someone was waiting in the back seat. It was empty. She locked the car doors and started the engine, reversing from the driveway and speeding away as fast as she dared.
She drove aimlessly, she felt safe in the car, a moving barrier. She couldn’t be caught if she was moving. That was what she should do, just drop everything and go. She couldn’t leave Patrick though, or her parents. Not now, not after all this time.
She realised it had gotten dark only when another car flashed its lights at her. She turned her own on, then tried to figure out where she was, it was late, much later than she had thought, Patrick was probably worrying about her. She had been so wrapped up in her thoughts she had almost forgotten about the letter.
When she arrived back at the house, she read through it again, doing so slowly, as she reached the end, she started to cry. She couldn’t stop. After a few minutes she was able to bring herself back under control, it wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t. They wouldn’t destroy what she was trying to create, she’d make a life for herself, away from them, on her own, she’d be free of them. If not now, then soon. They wouldn’t keep her prisoner, she wouldn’t allow fear to immobilise her, if she did, what was the point of escaping? She might as well just be back there again. She wiped her eyes and tried to make herself look normal.
Patrick immediately knew that she had been upset and she showed him the letter, she couldn’t hide it from him. He made her sit as he made tea, then together they prepared dinner. It was nice, normalising. When they had done she felt better, her life would improve, there was no doubt. As they were finishing up, Ariadne bumped into Patrick, they apologised but lingered. Before Ariadne had a chance to register what was happening, they were kissing. Fast and primal, they ran their hands over each other’s bodies and began to move towards the stairs, still kissing.
They were in Ariadne’s room, lying side by side, Patrick looked at the ceiling, Ariadne was on her side, staring at the wall. Neither could sleep, both consumed by guilt. Patrick didn’t know how he could have betrayed Diane like that, she was barely in the ground before he was off sleeping with someone else. Ariadne tried to calm herself, what would this mean for her? For Patrick? She couldn’t stay here any longer, could she? She didn’t want a relationship, she was too damaged for one. They shouldn’t have allowed themselves to get into that position, they were supposed to be adults, responsible.
At some point they both drifted off to sleep, when Ariadne woke the next morning, she was alone in bed, she could smell coffee and food. She fretted for a few moments, then got up and showered. She dressed quickly and went downstairs, her cheeks burning. She didn’t want to have this discussion, one that was so necessary. Patrick was sitting at the table, reading a paper, beside him sat a coffee cup and an empty plate. “I made some food for you, it’s in the grill.” She took out her plate and sat down with it, “thank you.” Patrick didn’t reply. He seemed engrossed in his paper. She ate in silence, feeling awkward the entire time. When she finished, Patrick folded the paper and placed it gently down beside him. “I wanted to let you eat in peace.” “Ok.” “Look, what happened last night, I don’t think we should do it again.” Ariadne nodded, relieved. “I agree. I think we were both just emotional.” “Exactly.” “I don’t expect, nor want it to happen again. I think we should just remain friends, but if you want me to move out I-” “No, that won’t be necessary, I mean, we’re adults, we can put this behind us. We’re both reasonable people.” “Right.” Patrick picked up his coffee mug, “So…are we ok?” “Yeah, we are.” He smiled, “good. I’m going to go out for a bit soon” She nodded. They needed some time apart.
After he had left, she felt herself relax properly. They had made a mistake, they were emotional, that was all, hell, she wasn’t even attracted to him and she doubted he was attracted to her, he never gave any indication of it. It wouldn’t happen again, it would just be one of those things. They’d get past it. Despite her reassuring herself, she still felt nervous and when Patrick came home, the entire house had been cleaned. He had taken the time to go for a drive and clear his head, he didn’t know what came over them, but he knew it couldn’t happen again. It wouldn’t be right.