She had found equilibrium.

She was living in a modest studio flat on Warwick Street. One small bedsitting room, together with a separate kitchen and bathroom. Enough space for herself and her dog. (A brief spell working at a Dog Rescue Centre had led to the inevitable acquisition of an Alsatian dog called Ike).

The other tenants of the property were agreeable, which was a blessing.

She owned a car, an Austin Mini Metro, and was thus able to drive herself to and from her place of work.

She had recently escaped an abusive relationship. An abusive marriage.

But now she was free. For the first time in years, her life was in order.

She had a place to live. She had friends. She had independence.

It wasn’t a luxurious existence by any means, but it was equilibrium. It was stability.

It was what she wanted.

One day, in the summer of 1990, dad was obliged to take his car for a service at a garage near Warwick Street. It was convenient for him to stop by at Marianne’s while waiting for the work to be completed. She supplied him with a cup of coffee, some conversation, and he was on his way.

Later, there was a phone call from mum.

‘Now listen!’ said mum. ‘Your father is very concerned about you. We can’t have you staying in that sort of place! Come home and live with us for a while, and we’ll help you buy a house of your own.’

She couldn’t really decline an offer like that, could she?

No! Don’t do it Marianne! They’re playing their usual game of power and control. They’ll dangle this carrot for the sadistic pleasure of withdrawing it. You’re fine where you are, and don’t let them persuade you otherwise. Don’t let them demoralise you. They’ll draw you in and spit you out. Mum’s lying!

She informed the landlord of her intention to vacate the accommodation. A week’s notice.

No! Don’t do it! Once they have you back at New College, and under their control, they’ll change their minds. They’ll break their word and condemn you for presuming upon them.

She told the other tenants that she was leaving, and moving back with her parents for a while.

No! You’re making a mistake! You’d realise if you thought about it! What’s going to happen the next time dad’s in a Mood? He’ll want someone to blame. He’ll want someone to punish. That person will be YOU, Marianne. He’ll take it out on YOU. That’s what he does. Always! He’ll relish the opportunity to crush you by going back on his word.

She packed her belongings and loaded up the Mini Metro. She drove herself & Ike down Dale Street, crossed the roundabout onto Northumberland Road, and headed towards New College School.

No! Think about it! Cast your mind back a few years. Remember that time when you were living in London and had a nervous breakdown? You were a day-patient at the local hospital for six months. The psychiatrists wanted to find out about your background, so invited our parents to visit the hospital. Remember how mum and dad said…
“Why SHOULD we!”
“It’s NOTHING to do with us”.
“We don’t have TIME to go running around after you.”.
“We’ve got a BUSINESS to run.”
They don’t care, Marianne. They .. DO … NOT … CARE.

She drove her car the length of Northumberland Road – one of those wide tree-lined avenues at which Leamington Spa excels. Finally, just before it meets the Kenilworth Road, she turned left onto the gravelled driveway of New College.

Oh dear!

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