Keep It In The Family – Episode 07

Monday morning saw the usual barely controlled chaos that was the Branscombe family’s efforts to get to work and school on time, albeit with a subdued undertone to it.“Mum, did I tell you I’m going round to Sonia’s after school?” Jodie announced through a mouthful of fruit and yoghurt. She was on one of her regular health kicks.“And I said I’d help Ged with his maths assignment,” Ryan chipped in. “He’s coming here.”Rosie looked up from assembling three packed lunches of a Mexican chicken wrap for Ryan, a salad bowl for Jodie and Alan’s favourite egg mayonnaise sandwiches, and did some rapid mental timetabling.“If Jodie’s going to Sonia’s there’ll be no-one here if you come home, Ryan. Could you go to Ged’s, do you think? His mum will be in, won’t she? Your dad will be at work until six, and I’m not sure when I’ll be free. Does that suit everyone?” she asked.Jodie and Ryan nodded as they thrust their lunchboxes into their bags and headed out the door for the school bus.Rosie sank down at the table and spread marmalade on a slice of left-over toast.“Another mad morning successfully negotiated,” Alan teased, pouring her a cup of tea. “So, you’re OK to go into the office today?”Rosie unconsciously squared her shoulders and nodded.“I’m dreading it, but I have to. I was going to take another day, but I need to get it over with.”She swallowed the lump of grief that swelled in her throat. It was a week since Martin Willson’s shock death. Big and robust as he was, he had been felled by a heart attack while out mowing the lawn after a romantic pub lunch-date with her mother, Joyce. They were still in shock at the suddenness of it all. That it had happened on such a joy-filled weekend seemed doubly cruel.The week since had been taken up with the terribly sad business of breaking the news to the friends and family who had so recently joined them in happy celebration of her parents’ sapphire wedding anniversary. They had gathered together again for the funeral on Friday, and now, somehow, the family had to try to get back to normal, although what “normal” would be without the wonderfully solid presence of her father at its head, Rosie just couldn’t imagine.“In a way I’ll be glad to get back to work. Thank goodness for Clive Fenton the way he’s stepped in to keep things ticking over has been a godsend.” Clive Fenton was one of her father’s most loyal drivers and knew the business as well as anyone. Although nursing his own grief at the loss of his long-time friend, he had immediately grasped the reins and told Rosie not to worry about a thing.“But it’s time I went in. I imagine we’ve got a full sheet of deliveries today, and there’ll be a stack of correspondence to tackle as well.” She sighed. “It’s such a strange situation. With Dad I knew exactly where I was. Now, the only thing I know for sure is that I’m the one who’ll have to keep the company going.”Rosie was irritated to feel tears spring to her eyes, and Alan grasped her hand in sympathy.“It’s early days, love. Give yourself time, and try not to expect too much of yourself.”He gave her a sympathetic smile as he stood up and thrust some papers into the old leather satchel that served as his briefcase.“What about you? What do you have lined up today?” she asked, determinedly brightening.“It’s my turn to run down anything interesting in the latest planning applications bread and butter stuff. And there’s a rumour going around that management are to be calling us all in for a meeting this morning. That’s not usually good news.”She knew Alan had been a bit edgy since the paper’s long-standing editor had retired recently. A new, much younger man had been given the job a man who, according to newspaper contacts elsewhere, had a reputation for being a new broom.“Maybe it’s nothing,” she said hopefully. “Maybe they’re going to announce a new bonus scheme,” she mused with a brave attempt at a laugh.“Yeah, right! Anyway, I’d best get off. See you later, love. I’ll ring you at lunchtime hear how you’re getting on.”He was on his way out the door when she spotted the plastic box still sitting on the worktop, and ran after him.“Don’t forget your sandwiches!” she said, tossing the box to him.He caught it deftly and dropped it into his satchel.“Phew what would I do without you? Thanks, love. See you later.”And suddenly the house was quiet.Rosie looked around at the mess left behind and smiled. She loved family life. She’d loved growing up with two siblings and had revelled in the fun and banter and arguments between them all, her parents included. She was eternally grateful that she and Alan seemed to have been lucky enough to capture that easy sense of fun with their own two.But this wasn’t getting the kitchen tidied, she told herself, and started stacking the used plates in the dishwasher.As she wiped over the work surfaces and stashed the cereal boxes on the pantry shelf, she realised she was stalling, deliberately wasting time before heading off to the office, the first time she had ever felt that way.But that was ridiculous. She would go to work, and do her best to carry on her father’s legacy.


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