After the ambulance had left I had a few moments to think. It hit me. I loved him. After all these years I realised for the first time that I loved him.
I loved her too. I thought that I had the choice. No, not any more. I must look after him. I threw her out of my life. I'm sorry, Offie. I never told you that I was married to The Boss.
He recovered slowly, I took him to our seaside home, we had good times, we returned to the Big City for Xmas and he collapsed. I knew that if I called emergency the paramedics would take him to hospital. He wanted to stay with me, I wanted him to stay with me, I called Offie.
She came immediately. She had been a trained nurse. She and I helped him. She on one side and me on the other, day and night. It wasn't an unhappy time, it was quiet, there were plenty of good moments. He died in June.
“Well Offie, we're alone now, just you and me. Of course I feel guilty, you know being with you, but I had done my best for him, year after year.”
“He had many affairs, he was that sort of man, you know that. I helped him with his women, I chose most of them and threw some out sometimes. I threw you out too. I'm a terrible woman...”
Offie grabbed me in the gentlest possible way and closed my mouth. She held me, she did not hug me, she did not kiss me, she held me for a very long time.
It took time, it took me a long time, she said she would never forgive me for what I had done because I needed no forgiveness, I needed something else. She gives and she keeps giving.
We were driving back to the Big City on the Great South Road after a week staying with Offie's mother in the countryside.
It's always good to get Offie away from the office, the four of us – Offie's sister was with us – walking over the fields and through the woods, eating and drinking well and talking our heads off.
Anyways, I was driving, I was feeling good, I wanted a drink, I saw a sign for the canal basin. I thought interesting, I've read about this in a Sunday newspaper. I parked in a side street and the three of us walked to the canal basin.
Yes, it was picturesque, yes, it had character, yes, it had pubs. We went into the Winding Hole, I think that Offie and Sue knew the pub already.
A young man came to greet us. “Hello Claire! Hello Sue!”
Sue ran at him and wrapped herself around him.
“Hello Fluffy Tail!”