Community Spirit – Episode 41

“TASHA, please don’t leave like this!”

Not since the breakdown of her marriage had Jeannie lived in such a volatile and emotional environment.

The sight of her daughter disappearing down the path, whilst shouting to Jeannie at the door, “I can’t believe you said that, Mum,” saddened her greatly.

And, like the breakdown of her marriage, the root cause of the trouble was the same – Mark, her ex.

Having cancelled yet another arrangement with Tasha, Mark carried on with his life unknowingly whilst Jeannie was left to deal with the fallout.

All she’d said was maybe she and Tasha could have a picnic on the green instead if the weather held.

Jeannie grabbed her bag and shut the door behind her as it was time for her shift at the Goose. As she went round the back of the pub to the staff entrance she found Fergus painting an over-sized stand for the fête in the colours of the Goose and Gander.

He had his back to her and she rushed by, still not keen on drawing too much attention to herself in front of him or Debbie.

Unluckily, Debbie was in the storeroom just inside and appeared as soon as Jeannie hung up her bag.

“What’s being planned by the Mucklebury Arms for the fête?”

As grateful as she was still to have a job, Jeannie was getting a little tired of the questions from Debbie.

“How would I know?” she answered, more testily than perhaps she should.

“Because I’ve made it part of your job to know.” Debbie scowled.

“Well, I don’t. I haven’t seen Nate for a week, much less spoken with him about his plans for the fête.”

“You haven’t? Why not? What happened to the big romance?”

A wave of loneliness washed over Jeannie. She knew she had cooled things with Nate for the right reason, but trying to spend time with an unwilling daughter meant Jeannie had ended up on her own even more.

“There is no big romance. There never was.”

Jeannie pushed past Debbie, praying that she wouldn’t be pursued. She wasn’t, and Debbie went back to whatever it was she spent hours doing in the storeroom at the back of the pub.

Jeannie was on her knees in the lounge turning out the drawers underneath the TV cabinet when Tasha came home with Cally that afternoon. She was working a split shift and had a few hours before she had to be back for the evening.

“Hi, Mrs Dunn,” Cally said as Tasha went upstairs without looking at Jeannie.

“Hi, Cally,” Jeannie replied. “How are things?”

“Good, thanks. You?”

“Oh, you know, mustn’t grumble,” Jeannie said, before hearing how miserable that sounded.

“Dad says hi,” Cally said.

“Does he?” Jeannie smiled.

Cally looked guilty.

“Actually, he didn’t, because he didn’t know I was coming here.”

Alison Cook