Under The Elm Tree – Episode 28

HOW’S Dad?”

Susan frowned at the anxiety in Ella’s voice. They had all suffered a shock when Greg was taken to hospital following an angina attack. She shifted her mobile to the other ear and looked across the lounge to where Greg was sitting, paperwork spread out on a tray on his knee.

“You know your father,” she said, raising her voice so he could hear. “The doctor says he has to rest, but I can’t seem to make him.”

“I am resting!” he called out cheerfully. “I’m sitting down, aren’t I?”

Susan smiled at him as she listened to what Ella was saying.

“Yes,” she reassured her. “He’s getting on well, really. Now, how are things with you and Martin?” She paused, concentrating. “You’ve invited him down to Wembury? Is that wise, darling? Yes, I do think it’s a good idea for him to stay at the Fox and Hounds. He really can’t expect anything else after what’s happened. Anyway, I’d best be off. Night, night, darling.”

Susan pressed the red button and placed her mobile phone on the arm of the sofa before reaching for her laptop beside her.

“I don’t know if it’s a good thing or bad,” she mused, reactivating the screen. “Martin turning up like he did after Christmas.”

Greg looked at her over the top of his glasses.

“Don’t get involved, love,” he said firmly. “We can’t help her on that one. All we can do is be there for her, whatever it is she decides to do.” He picked up a sheet of paper and grimaced. “Another bill!”

Susan’s heart sank. Sometimes, their financial difficulties threatened to overwhelm her, but she mustn’t show Greg how worried she was. The doctor had told him he mustn’t get stressed. All she could do was be positive and hope for the best.

“The accountants have told us we’ll get some of our money back when they’ve sorted things out,” she reminded him as cheerfully as she could. “Why don’t you let the people know we’ll pay their invoice as soon as we can?”

“I can try, I suppose.” Greg scratched his head. “The trouble is, our suppliers have got businesses to run as well. It’s difficult for them, too.” He sat quietly for a moment before getting up and coming to sit beside her. “I thought I might start on the refurb of Bella in the morning,” he said. Bella was an old narrowboat they’d bought the previous summer which Greg was hoping to do up in time for the summer bookings.

She bit her lip. She wasn’t sure he was up to such a big task at the moment. She didn’t want to dampen his enthusiasm, though, and the doctor had said she mustn’t wrap him in cotton-wool.

Then an idea popped into her head. It was so obvious that she wondered how she hadn’t thought of it before.

“Let’s do it together!” she announced.

He laughed.

“You with a paintbrush?”

“You know perfectly well that the only reason I never got involved with the practical side of the business was because I was busy with my teaching job and running the house. There’s no earthly reason at all why I shouldn’t help now.”

Greg’s face broke into a smile. He slipped his arm around her and hugged her.

“I think it’s a grand idea,” he said, giving her an affectionate kiss. “It’ll be fun working together!” He gestured at the laptop. “How’s the research going? Did you find anything out about that artist chap?”

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.