Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (35) Love Thy Neighbour (Part 04)
When John Whitaker offered to help a complete stranger to conquer her agoraphobia, it seemed to him at the time to be the most natural thing in the world to do.
The look of sheer relief on her face when he offered to help convinced him that it was absolutely the right thing for him to do.
The problem was that he had absolutely no idea how to achieve it.
When he returned to his flat he spent the rest of the day surfing the net, reading up on the subject and he read other people’s personal accounts of how they beat agoraphobia and finished his research at 2am, but at the end of it he had a plan.
So starting the next day, and continuing over the following months, he set about helping Faye to leave her flat.
It wasn’t easy by any means although it could have been if he’d taken a short cut and just given her Rohypnol and carried her outside and waited for her to come around on the beach.
But he decided that if he did that without her consent it would have been counterproductive so he decided they had to do it the hard way.
However the truth was he had no idea where to begin to help her, how to take the first step so to speak.
“So tell me how it started?” he asked her on the first morning
“What?” she said
“How did the agoraphobia start?” he replied and she totally broke down in tears.
“I’m so sorry” he said as he comforted her “I didn’t mean to upset you”
When the sobs had finally subsided and she’d dried her eyes she said in a faltering voice
“It wasn’t just one thing”
“Really?” he pressed her, sensing that she had lied.
There was a long silence as she processed his question.
“That’s not actually true” she confessed “I lost my parents when I was in my third year at University, which ultimately cost me my degree”
John didn’t respond to her confession, but instead he let her take her time to continue when she was ready.
“I stayed in my room at University for three months”
“But you came out” John said
“That was Owen” Faye said
“Owen?” he asked
“Owen Blake” she replied “my fiancé”
“Well he wasn’t my fiancé at the time, he was just my boyfriend”
“But he got you out?”
“Yes, Owen told me that he loved me and that he couldn’t live without me and then he proposed to me” she said flatly “and so I left the room with him”
“But?” John responded and Faye looked at him and tears welled up in her eyes again but she swallowed hard and said
“But, four years later, a month before our wedding, when he was on the stag weekend, he phoned me from Amsterdam and said the wedding was off, because he didn’t love me”
“Nice” he said
“No it was worse than that, because he went on to say he’d never loved me”
“God” John said
“So if there was a single thing, then that was it” she said and the tears came again.