Community Spirit – Episode 24

JEANNIE sat on the grass, too agitated to read her book, gradually calming down enough to look around the green.

She noticed the Mucklebury Arms had its front door open, and a few members of the bowls team were standing around after practice.

Jeannie wondered if Nate would treat the people he worked with as poorly as Debbie and Fergus, before realising she would get the chance to find out on Friday. Pamela had asked her to cater for what had become a curry and quiz night.

Jeannie smiled at the thought of her and Nate working together, before noticing the time on the church clock.

Jeannie returned to finish her shift in the dining-room, which was busier than before. Debbie and Fergus were behind the bar and Jeannie did her best to ignore them.

She couldn’t help worrying about her future at the Goose if she didn’t give them what they wanted. Then where would she and Tasha be? But how could she betray a friend, even if the friendship was new?

She returned home, exhausted, to find Tasha still up. She was in her bedroom, clothes hanging from the wardrobe and the door, and yet more piled on the bed and floor.

“What’s going on?” Jeannie asked, kissing Tasha on the head as she sat on the floor sorting through a pile of T-shirts. “Having a clear-out?”

“Getting ready for my holiday,” Tasha explained, clearly excited about going to Spain with her father, his wife and their baby. “Two weeks is fourteen outfits, but is that fourteen for day and another fourteen for night? What about shoes?”

“Tasha, darling,” Jeannie replied, “you’re not going for another two weeks.”

“I know, but I want to make sure I have everything I need. Some of these clothes are too small and I don’t want to look like an idiot.”

Jeannie felt in her pocket for the envelope she’d just been given by Fergus. She pulled out twenty pounds and gave it to Tasha.

“You’ll need to buy sun-cream and other bits. I’m sorry it can’t be more.”

Tasha stood and hugged her mum.

“Thanks,” she said. “I know things are tough right now, and I know I was a pain about the school trip. I’m sorry, I’ll try to be less . . . well, like a teenager.”

Jeannie smiled at her daughter and hugged her.

“It’s OK,” she said. “I understand. Things will get better, I promise.”

Alison Cook