Community Spirit – Episode 67

LEFT in the house all day on her own, Jeannie had wandered from one room to the next, pottering. She emptied a wardrobe to sort her clothes, then left them all over the bed halfway through, distracted.

In the kitchen, she emptied the glassware from the cupboard and washed it but didn’t dried it, so it now sat on the draining board with streaks all over it.

It wasn’t until she realised Tasha would be back from her dad’s in an hour that Jeannie realised what a mess she had made throughout the house.

She piled the clothes back in the wardrobe, buffed the glasses as best she could and replaced the cushions on the sofa.

She had planned to cook a roast chicken dinner but didn’t know if Tasha would already have had a main meal, so decided they could have omelettes instead.

With the eggs coming up to room temperature and plates warming, Jeannie stood and stared into the garden. She couldn’t help thinking about Nate.

Hard as she tried to think of something else, he constantly returned to her mind.

She thought of how on and off their relationship had been. Just as they seemed to be making great strides forward, it now seemed to be off again.

Could he really be back with his wife? Hadn’t she left him and Cally and devastated them both?

Jeannie didn’t think she could be that forgiving, but if that was what he had chosen, there was very little she could do about it.

She sighed and thought about the week ahead – her last at the Goose and Gander.

Would Debbie and Fergus stop fiddling the brewery? Would she have the courage to report them if they didn’t?

She tried not to think about it, instead concentrating on how it would feel to work her last shift and never have to go back.

This time next week she would be getting ready to start her new job, but even thinking about that made her tummy churn.

It was a good job, and she knew how lucky she had been to find it, but there was still a small part of her that longed to be her own boss again.

The chances of resurrecting the catering business were so remote that she added that subject to the ever-increasing list of things not to think about.

The front door banged and Tasha came into the kitchen, bag over her shoulder, phone in hand.

“Hi, love,” Jeannie welcomed her daughter. “Did you have a nice day?”

“Fine,” Tasha replied, getting herself a glass of water from the tap.

“Where did you go?”

“Nowhere,” she said.

“How was your dad?”

“Same as he always is,” Tasha muttered, walking into the lounge and sitting on the sofa.

Jeannie followed but stayed in the doorway.

“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?” she asked.

“What do you think?” Tasha said, throwing her phone into her bag and looking at her mother.

“What happened this time?” Jeannie asked, sighing.

“Nothing – and I mean exactly nothing. I got there and he said they had to go out and would only be half an hour, and then they left me in the house all day on my own!

“They didn’t come back until four o’clock with some lame excuse about the shop not having what they needed and having to go to two more.” Tasha crossed her arms across her chest.

“Oh, no!” Jeannie exclaimed.

She sat next to Tasha and stroked her hair.

“I’m sorry.”

“Stop apologising for him, Mum. Anyway, I’m not sorry. It gave me the courage to say what I’ve been thinking for a while.” Tasha looked at Jeannie, who raised her eyebrows.

Alison Cook