Community Spirit – Episode 66

NATE looked at Steph – really looked at her. He saw the lines around the eyes which hadn’t been there when she left.

The disappointment around her mouth was also new. Her skin was still youthful and her hair glossy, but she didn’t feel real to him. He didn’t know her any more.

“To be honest, Steph, I’m not sure I do. Cally is the only person that matters in all of this. If I have to have you back in my life in order for you to be in hers, then that’s what I’ll do, but let’s not pretend we can be love’s young dream again.”

“Dad, stop!”

They both turned to see Cally standing in the doorway to the stairs, tears running down her face.

“Don’t do this! I don’t want you to sacrifice yourself for me,” she said.

“Hey,” Nate said, rushing over and pulling her close. “I’m not sacrificing myself for you. I’m getting you your mother back.

“If she wants to be my mother again there are other ways of going about it. Don’t give up your personal happiness for me.”

“Cally, I’d give up my life for you, but this isn’t about me. It’s about you and what you need.”

“I don’t need a mother who can leave me one day and reappear another, and expect everyone just to forgive and forget. I was happier before when it was just you and me!”

Cally burst into sobs and Nate soothed her as best he could.

When Cally was calmer, Nate pulled back to look into her face and wipe her eyes.

“You should have said something earlier,” he said to her. “Why didn’t you tell me you felt like this?”

Cally muttered something into Nate’s shoulder.

“What was that?” he asked.

“Because I thought having her here would make you happy,” Cally repeated in a stronger voice. “You missed her so much, for such a long time, that I thought you’d be glad she was back.”

Nate held his daughter’s chin gently and made her look at him.

“That sounds an awful lot like you were sacrificing yourself for me!” he said with a smile.

She shrugged and laughed. They hugged each other tightly.

“I think that’s my cue to leave,” Steph muttered.

Nate let go of Cally and took Steph’s hands in his.

“I wish you well, Steph, I honestly do, and I hope you find whatever it is you’re looking for in life. But I don’t think it’s here with us.

“It took us a long time to get over you, but we’ve moved on. Revisiting the past is not a good idea.”

Steph looked from one to the other.

“I’ll get my things,” she said.

“Mum!” Cally cried as Steph brushed past her towards the stairs.

Steph stopped.

“I may have got used to you not being here every day, but I still want you to be my mum.”

Steph stepped forward and took Cally’s head in her hands. She kissed her firmly on her forehead, and then spoke in a softer voice than either of them had heard from her since her return.

“That means a lot, Cally. I am sorry I left you, both of you.”

She glanced at Nate.

“I can see walking back in and demanding we be a family again wasn’t the right way to go about it. I’ll get settled somewhere and call you. We’ll have a proper chat, a real catch-up, OK?”

“OK,” Cally agreed.

Nate put his arm around his daughter as Steph went upstairs to pack.

Alison Cook