“What?” she shouted. She was in absolute shock. She couldn’t believe what she’d just heard. She looked at her mother, face ashen and mouth aghast.

“He’s black.” Ann replied with a deadpan expression before continuing to say “I didn’t want it to come to this but you keep pushing it. You don’t need to be with his sort. You’re better than that Lou. You may not see it now, but in years to come you will”.

“I can’t believe what I’m hearing” Lou said. “My own mother. Granddad didn’t fight in the war for you to come out with things like this.”

“Don’t you dare tell me about what my Dad fought in the war for” Ann snapped.

“He fought against racism and fascism and he was happy for me. He said that I had found a good one” Lou replied.

“Granddad doesn’t see what I see” Ann said. She took a deep breath and continued, “you don’t see what I see. I look after kids for a living and I see how they treat their women and children and I want better for you”.

Lou’s eyes reddened before she whispered “If only your eyes saw souls instead of bodies, surely then…” she stopped. “He is better for me. He’s the best I’ve ever had. He’s given me everything I’ve ever dreamed of. Why isn’t that enough?” Lou asked.

Ann looked at her, eyebrows knitted and said “Before him things were fine. You didn’t question anything I said. You appreciated everything I’d done for you. It’s only when you was speaking to him that you wanted to come off of the medication I had you on”.

Lou closed her eyes and a tear rolled from the corner of her eye as she said “He never made me want to come off the medication. I wanted to do that by myself. He just helped to give me the strength and courage to do it”.

“You don’t need that kind of strength and courage” Ann snapped.

Lou snapped back “you’ve had me on antidepressants and sedatives for years. I just want to be able to live. It’s draining. It’s killing me”.

Ann who had been standing with her arms folded dropped her forehead to her palm. “Oh so I’m killing you. Why are you so ungrateful? You promised that you’d never leave me that you’d show gratitude for all I gave up to raise you and your brother and now you’re going back on that. I told you that if you leave me, I’d kill myself”.

Lou still crying replied “I didn’t ask to be born and I’m not being ungrateful, but I’ve given you 37 years? I need to experience things on my own. Being born isn’t something anyone is supposed to pay for”.

Ann clenched her fist before her mouth and with teeth gritted said “but it’s not on your own. It’s for him. You wanna leave me for him”.

Pleadingly Lou said “I just want to live. I just want to be free”.

Ann took a deep breath and said “you think you’ll be free with him? You’re nothing to him. You’re nothing to anyone. You’re worthless. You should be grateful that I’m willing to put up with you”.

Tears still streaming from Lou’s eyes she said “he loves me. He taught me to love me and you destroyed that. You manipulated us to argue and then you ripped him away from me”.

Ann snorted “Loves you? How could he love you when he was sleeping with you when you was in pain. How could he love you when you two used to argue? Using marketing talk for relationships talking about storming. It was destined to fail”.

“I didn’t mention it. How was I supposed to mention that I was sore because you bruised me in an attempt to stop him from sleeping with me. A mother sexually abusing her daughter to prevent her making love to her boyfriend isn’t normal” Lou screamed.

“Don’t raise your voice at me and don’t you dare talk to me about normal” Ann retorted.

Lou sniffled as she tried to stem her tears and said “do you think it’s normal that you medicate me against the advice of my therapist and occupational health advisor? Do you think it’s normal that you force pills down me?”

Ann rubbed her head and put her hair behind her ear then said “see, something else that you didn’t question before he came along. You know it’s for the best, it keeps you healthy. Can you not see that?”

Lou answered “it doesn’t keep me healthy. I’m in pain constantly. Just let me go. Let me live my life. Aren’t mothers supposed to want the best for their children?”

To which Ann replied “I let you do it your way once and look at the pain it caused you when your fiancée died. You don’t need anyone else to cause you pain.”

Urgently Lou replied “he makes me feel validated…”

But before she could finish her sentence Ann interjected with “Aren’t you validated by making sure that I’m not lonely?”

There was a pause as Ann looked at Lou and Lou with her eyes closed released yet another tear “I want to be…”

Ann stopped her. “You keep saying you want to be free, but I’ve given you freedom. You get to go to work, you get to see that therapist and you get to come home and make sure that I’m not on my own”.

Through her sobbing Lou said “you won’t even let me reply to him. You’ve messaged him pretending to be me and told him not to contact me. And you read all the messages that he sends me”.

“And look at him. He’s still sending you messages, it just shows the type of man that he is, you’re not safe with him. You’re only safe with me!” Ann replied.

Lou opened her eyes, looked at Ann and said “Mum I want to leave. He said I can live with him”.

Ann ran both her palms down her face and exhaled before saying “and it’s because he put those types of ideas in your head that we’re in this situation. We’re going to…” she stopped and then she sighed and then she walked over to the bed knelt down and said “we’re going to keep you here until you start to think right. You’re never going to leave me. I’m going to make sure of that. I’m going to make sure you remember your loyalties”. Ann tightened the straps that held Lou to the bed and then removed a needle from her pocket before plunging it into Lou’s neck just before saying “if you leave you’ll ruin everyone’s life. You know I need you, I need your help to overcome my anxiety problems and you know that Granddad is ill. No one would be able to take it. You have a responsibility to stay here and help the family”.