Community Spirit – Episode 20

NATE stood and stretched his arms over his head until they touched the ceiling in the bar of the Mucklebury Arms. He’d been hunched over his laptop for an hour, working out the costs for a party request he’d received from Liv, one of the WI women.

The influx of clubs and meetings had lifted his sales and a week after his first order, he had rung through to the brewery to request more stock.

At the end of his second week, Nate had a plan. The efforts of the locals were solid, but Nate knew from previous experience there was a lot more he could do.

It was Sunday and the Evensong crowd had taken to coming in after the service to hold a summit on how the last week had gone and to rally their spirits for the coming week. Tonight, Nate intended to take them through his proposals.

He looked out to the green. It was early and the village had yet to wake up. The Goose and Gander was quiet, but later there would be standing room only in the beer garden at the front, especially if the day was as sunny as they were predicting on the radio.

Nate wondered whether Jeannie was awake yet. She lived in the close behind the village shop but a line of trees blocked any view of the modern houses from the residents of the traditional houses on the green.

Nate brewed himself a coffee using the machine the brewery had sent, savouring the smell that wafted through the bar.

As he drank, he read over his proposal for the party, but his mind wandered back to Jeannie. Over the past week, he’d seen her when the WI held their meeting in the pub after the closure of the community centre, and a few times around the village.

Each time he’d wanted to say something to her, ask her over for a drink, but each time they had been interrupted – the first time by Meredith Jarvis, the vicar’s wife, who’d caught them both by the postbox, then Arthur Regis, who found them standing outside the village shop shyly smiling at each other.

Arthur had held a long discourse on his team’s recent match, by which time Jeannie had to go to start her shift at the Goose. And the time Nate had summoned the courage to knock on her front door, he had been surprised by his own daughter.

“Dad, what are you doing here?” Cally had asked, Tasha appearing from the kitchen behind her carrying a bowl of popcorn.

“Oh, I was – hello, Tasha,” he said, shuffling from foot to foot.

“Were you looking for my mum?” Tasha asked.

Nate nodded, blushing.

“She’s at the Goose. Should be back soon if you’d like to wait?”

Nate had fled, so hadn’t had the chance to chat to Jeannie properly since the night they’d shared a kiss in the pub.

Alison Cook