Community Spirit – Episode 16

“HOW come you move around so much?” Tasha asked Cally as they headed towards the village shop.

“My dad sorts out pubs in trouble for the brewery,” Cally explained. “At least he has since my mum left.”

“Where were you before?”

“In a pub twenty miles away. I grew up there. Mum and Dad managed it for fifteen years, but after Mum ran off with Terry, Dad couldn’t bear to stay.”

“Who’s Terry?”

“My mum’s boyfriend. He used to drink in the pub. They got too friendly and off she went.”

“Didn’t your dad see it coming?” Tasha asked as they passed the row of thatched cottages.

“Not a clue, and neither did I, but I was only thirteen at the time. He doesn’t talk about it, but sometimes he says they’d got too comfy in the same place for so long. Since then we’ve moved around. It’s like he’s trying to prove he’s not dull.”

“Do you mind?”

“Not really. It’s been fun,” Cally replied. “This is only the second time I’ve had to change schools, but it’s GCSE year and I want to do well. Dad made sure the exam board and syllabus in the new school were the same for most of my subjects, but I’d like to see out this year in one place.”

By now they’d wandered round the top of the green. They sat on the shady steps of the community centre and stuck their bare legs out into the sun.

“So,” Cally began, “what about your parents?”

Tasha scraped up tiny pieces of gravel and threw them at a bigger stone just past her feet.

“Dad had an affair with a woman at work and left to be with her. We had to move to a smaller house and now Dad lives five miles away in Brenfield. He married Rebecca three days after the divorce came through and they had Ava a year ago. I’m supposed to see him every weekend, but half the time he cancels saying he has to work.”

“That’s tough,” Cally sympathised.

“I wish my dad would do something just for me, because he wanted to spend time with me,” Tasha went on.

“I think,” Cally said, standing, “that as long as you have someone who loves you unconditionally, that’s enough. I have my dad and you have your mum.”

“Isn’t it better to have both?” Tasha pointed out.

“Of course,” Cally replied, “but it’s also better to eat five portions of fruit and veg a day and I get along just fine without that.”

Cally put her hands on her hips as Tasha laughed. Cally pulled her up.

“That’s a good way of looking at it,” Tasha said, following Cally to the pub.

Alison Cook