Community Spirit – Episode 59

BY early afternoon the pub was quiet again. Nate had half an hour before the calligraphy class were due in and, leaving Steph in charge behind the bar, he wandered in the direction of the Goose and Jeannie’s house to see if he could find her.

Cally and Tasha were on the green enjoying their last few days before school started.

Nate was happy Cally had found a friend so soon after coming to the village and hoped it would be a big help when she started at the school.

“Hi, Dad,” Cally called as Nate crossed nearby. “You OK?”

“Yes, fine,” Nate lied. “Why’d you ask?”

“Just . . . you know,” Cally replied.

“I was going to see if I could find your mum, Tasha. Do you know where she is?”

“She went into the shop. She was buying last-minute bits for tonight and said she’d buy us an ice-cream,” Tasha informed him.

“I hope she’s not gone to much trouble,” Nate said. “Anyway, I’ll be off. I need to talk to her.”

In the corner shop Nate found Jeannie by the baked goods. Mrs Cooper was busy with a couple at the counter and another lady was looking at the magazines.

“Hi.” Jeannie smiled, pleased to see him.

She reached up to give him a peck on the cheek but, nervous about what to say to her, Nate turned and she ended up kissing his ear.

“Hello,” Nate replied awkwardly.

Jeannie stood back and looked at him.

“Are you OK?” she asked.

“Fine, thanks, it’s just . . .”

“Excuse me. Could I get to the sliced brown?” It was the lady with the magazines.

She squeezed between them, a weekly magazine in her basket, and reached for a loaf on the top shelf.

Nate and Jeannie stood silently until she’d moved away.

“Where was I?” Nate thought for a moment. “Oh, I’m afraid I don’t think we’ll be able to have you over this evening. I hope you’ve not gone to much trouble, but the thing is . . .”

“Sorry, do you mind if we get by?” The couple from the counter had finished and were trying to leave the shop.

“Of course.” Again Nate and Jeannie stood back.

“You were saying?” Jeannie asked when they’d gone.

“Yes, er . . . the thing is, well, it’s like this . . .”

“Mum?” Tasha appeared at the end of the aisle. “Have you got our ice-creams yet?”

“Not yet, Tasha. Can you wait a moment?” Jeannie gave Nate an odd look.

The bell over the door jangled again and this time Pamela entered but didn’t approach.

“Look, now’s not a good time. I’ll talk to you later,” Nate said. “But I can’t do tonight. Sorry about that. I have to get back now but we’ll talk soon, I promise.”

Nate fled the shop feeling like the worst person in the world, leaving Jeannie staring after him.

Alison Cook