It was an act of kindness really.
The postmortem showed that the extent of his liver damage would have given Ralph a year at most, and I've read that alcoholic cirrhosis isn't a pleasant death.
I didn't plan it. It was just that he was perfectly positioned, swaying slightly, and grinning, on the top step, and pure chance that I was on my way to the loo as he was on his way up to bed.
I could almost swear it wasn't me who gave him that shove on his chest, and I was as surprised as he was - judging by the look on his face - as he fell backwards.
He had no expression at all by the the time he reached the bottom - looked almost peaceful. It reminded me of how he looked when we first met. Benign, kindly. When he began to stir I had to force the image back into my head, of his contorted, ugly features when he was laying into me with his fists after a night in The Crown with his mates.
The coroner also concluded that the amount of alcohol in his bloodstream was consistent with a loss of balance and co-ordination, leading to a fall down a flight of stairs, and that it was an unfortunate accident. Death by misadventure, they ruled.
It's been nice since then. I can lie in bed and know that he won't be throwing the door open and kicking me awake. I've had more sleep in the past two weeks than I have in fifteen years. The kids are happier too. Fiona, in particular. She's lost that haunted look, and the dark shadows under her eyes have almost gone. The night it happened was the night after I caught him closing her door, his face flushed and his eyes bright. I went back to bed, and then lay awake, wondering how to handle it.
I have no regrets - apart from not realising sooner. I have no reason to apologise - except to my firstborn. But I know she knows. The bronze statue disappeared that night, before the police arrived The one of the lion, that Auntie June brought us back from Spain two years ago, which stood on the hall table. I didn't move it, but, thinking about it, I suppose they might have been able to find traces of his blood in those tiny crevices in its mane. I almost asked Fiona and James the other day if either of them knew where it had gone. But I never liked the thing anyway. And Auntie June, being his aunt, won't have much need to visit now. So, no harm done.