Kitty is very open about her emotions.
“-Patrick Swayze is my favourite, apart from Hugh Grant and Colin Firth of course, and I really, really liked Ghost, it was just so lovely. Well, apart from the - you know, the train part, that was a bit scary, but the rest was so romantic… how he loved her even when he was dead. A bit like you and Thomas! Except the lady liked Patrick Swayze back, so maybe not like that at all. It made me a bit sad, too. She couldn’t see him! Ah, imagine if you couldn’t see us, Alison, that’d be horrid… I’d cry forever and ever, but I won’t have to, because you can!-”
Kitty flapped her hands in the air, grinning and gushing, and Alison felt honestly a little relieved. Kitty was just so joyful and kind it was particularly hard to get sad around her. She was like a human disco ball in a world where discos were actually a good thing.
Sure, Kitty cried, but Kitty cried in the approachable way. The way where you can just (figuratively) wrap your arms around her and tell her it’ll be alright and she’ll believe you. It’s all just temporary. You don’t have to keep dealing with mess , and baggage , and trauma , you can just buy the DVD, or a new poster, or hold a sleepover. She’s got this down pat. Down super pat. Pat all the way to the ground. She’s losing hold of her metaphor.
Not that there was anything wrong in being open about your emotions. That was what this therapy was for , anyways. Helping out the ghosts. Listening to their grievances. Airing out laundry (respectfully). It was just - well, everything wasn’t going as planned. There was nothing resolved. There were no loose ends satisfyingly tied up. Fanny and the Captain were still repressed and Thomas was still lost and Pat was still mourning and Robin was still - well, Robin, inscrutable. She technically hadn’t helped anyone at all. All she was asking for was something a little easy , just a short win she could snatch up before any more bullshit.
“Oh, gosh, I wish my sister were here to see all of this. When I was alive, we mostly just entertained each other - our Governess was a bit boring, and we took lessons together, so we’d make all kinds of funny faces across the classroom! She never got in trouble for it, but I got caught plenty of times. Even when I wasn’t doing them!” Kitty laughed, a little more loudly than usual, before sobering, a thoughtful expression creeping its way onto her face. “You know, I don’t know if she ever came back as a ghost. She moved away before then. Maybe she did! Oh, how wonderful would it be if we knew where she was? Then you could go there and we could send messages to each other, like a game.”
“Yes.” Alison said, carefully. “Yes, that would be nice.”
“Perhaps you could find her!” Kitty led on, beaming. “Like - like on that programme, the one Thomas hates. Who do you think you are , that’s it!”
“There are bound to be marriage records - it was a while ago now but she definitely did marry - and I know the name! And then you can research her, find out where she died, and visit to see if she stayed on. Oh, but what if she did! It would be a lovely surprise, wouldn’t it, Alison?”
“Err.” Alison stalled. “Sure, yeah.”
“ Wonderful! I’m so glad you’re doing this. I’m so glad! Then we can all be sisters. Three sisters! If Papa could see us…”
Her stupid fucking internal monologue had jinxed it! God. This was gonna be worse than when Alison thought Kitty could take Marley and Me.
Kitty was just standing up to leave, and Alison tamped down the back of her mind that was already celebrating over an easy win , knowing what she had to do. Knowing that this conversation would completely fuck up the house dynamic even more, something Alison was increasingly finding herself more and more capable of.
Kitty turned around, the feather in her hair perkier than usual. “Yes, Alison?”
“I don’t think I can do that.”
It drooped. Kitty’s smile dropped. Her eyes immediately grew wider, as if anticipating floods of tears. “Why?”
“Because - because I don’t think it would be good.” Alison winced pre-emptively. “For you.”
Kitty’s voice took on something she hadn’t quite heard before. It was new. It was odd. It was something she couldn’t really recognise on Kitty. “But I’m asking, Alison.”
“Right.” Alison fiddled with her pen. “It’s just that, well, I don’t really know how to put this, but…” She took a deep breath. Really deep. “Maybeyoursisterwasn’tverynicetoyou?”
“It’s true. From what I’ve heard, I don’t really think she was good to you at all. I think she hurt you, and convinced you that it was okay. And I just don’t want her to be able to hurt you again.”
Kitty took a long pause, pursed her lips together, screwed her eyes shut, and shook her head several times, as if to shake away emotion. “I don’t - I don’t know what you’re saying, Alison. In fact this whole thing is confusing me. You’re confusing me. It’s nasty, and I think you should come talk to me when you’re ready to not be nasty.” She shook her head, once more. “Yes, that’s right.”
She walked off, quite stiffly, silent against the creaking floorboards. Alison had never quite gotten used to the lack of sound that followed ghosts, the complete vacuum in which they existed.
Her emotional honesty hung in the air, took up the whole room. She had tried. Kitty didn’t want to listen. And everything about it was so awful because she had handled it right , and yet it wasn’t Kitty’s fault either, because Alison would have reacted the same way. It was all just awful, everything. And it was another tally to Bad Therapy Session, compared to the big fat zero of Good Therapy Session. She wasn’t sure why being good at this, or hell, even continuing with this, was so important to her, but it was. She needed to. It was necessary, somehow. She needed to get something right.
“Next!” She yelled.
The door slowly creaked open. Julian let out a loud huff. “I’ve been at that for ten minutes, you know.” He complained, jerking his thumb back to the door. “Completely ruined my entrance.”
“I think we both know this isn’t going to be anything.” Alison said.
“That’s what I said to my receptionist, and look what happened.” Julian replied, easily, before clapping once. “Zing!”
“You can’t just say
to yourself, that’s not how it works.”
“Just did it. And it was funny, so it’s fine. Anyways, I’m glad you know the exact nature of our relationship, Alison - very helpful to be on the same page.” He uncrossed and crossed his legs. “I just came in to give you a bit of a reprieve, Als.”
“Don’t call me Als.” Alison panned, notebook discarded to the floor.
“Noted! Ally it is then.”
“You’re so boring.” Julian said, easily. “How’s everything going? Any crying?”
“Did you not listen when I explicitly said I wouldn’t tell anyone about anything? That it was a rule?”
“Well, yes, but I assumed that just didn’t apply to me.” Julian’s expression turned genuinely quizzical. “It really did?”
“Yes! How many times!”
“But I’m not like them , am I? I’m not a bloody wack job. We’re normals. I mean, you’re a little bit doolally, but you’re as normal as I can get in this house. We’re equals. Practically. Sixty forty.”
Alison blinked, slowly. “Do you ever just stop yourself before you say something? Consider that maybe, just maybe, whatever you’re about to say the world could probably do without?”
“I’ve never been one for proofreading.” He winked at her, as if they were sharing a private joke. “Come on,
. It’s not like you’re under oath. Scout’s Honour, I won’t tell.”
Alison pretended to consider it. “No.”
Julian sighed, loudly again, and slapped his hands against his knees, getting up and letting out an old man groan as a side effect of that. “Well, I tried. I owe Mary a tenner - though I think I found a loophole...” He groaned again, loudly, for an uncomfortably prolonged period of time, and tapped her on the shoulder. “Good luck.”
“Thank you. I know you’re being insincere.”
“Aah, you know me too well!” He pointed a finger at her like they were friends, before backing out of the room. She had an interaction with him like this at least once a day. He kept referring to a “rapport” they had. It was more horrifying than wrong, really.