Community Spirit – Episode 28

“COME on, we’re going for a walk.”

Jeannie stood over Tasha, who was sitting on the sofa staring blankly at the floor. After Tasha had cried herself out last night, Jeannie had put her to bed.

This morning, when she didn’t appear for breakfast, Jeannie had gone into Tasha’s room and persuaded her to come downstairs. Tasha had been sitting on the sofa ever since.

“I don’t want to,” Tasha said.

Jeannie knelt in front of her.

“I know you don’t, but I really think it will make you feel better.”

Tasha shrugged.

“I want you to,” Jeannie went on. “Now, come on. Go and get dressed.”

Tasha seemed to think about arguing some more, but gave in and stood up instead, shuffling slowly towards the stairs.

Jeannie sat on the sofa in her place and leaned her head against the back. She thought about what she’d said to Nate before about how she’d expected things to be looking up by now when, in fact, they seemed to be getting worse.

She’d always thought of her ex, Mark, as a good father. Maybe he still was – he was just being a good father to someone else.

Jeannie dug beneath her as there was something hard under her leg. She pulled out Tasha’s phone, which came to life at the contact. Jeannie knew she shouldn’t, but she swiped at the screen and brought up the text that had caused all the angst.

As she read, she could feel her blood boil in her veins. It was even worse than she’d thought – not only had he cancelled the holiday, but he was taking his new family on a break to the New Forest when they would have been in Spain.

Jeannie thrust the phone back on to the sofa at the sound of footsteps on the stairs. Tasha appeared in a dress and sandals and waited by the front door.

It was another warm day with puffs of cloud passing in front of the sun, taking the worst of the heat away.

Jeannie and Tasha left the close through an alley leading to a footpath which passed the back of the cottages on the green, before heading uphill through the farmer’s fields.

As they went Jeannie talked about Tasha’s dad and how much he loved her and how he was distracted by the baby and his job worries and she shouldn’t take it personally. I deserve a medal for this, she thought,

fuming that she was having to defend the indefensible.

Tasha’s replies were monosyllabic. Jeannie tried talking more generally about men, about life’s disappointments, that it wasn’t what happened but how you dealt with it that mattered, all the time feeling she wasn’t making the slightest difference to the rejection her beautiful daughter was feeling.


Alison Cook