May The Best Team Win – Episode 16

Gerard Fay © Neil and Rachel in their local pub Illustration: Gerard Fay

“You look nice, Mum.”

Rachel turned towards Sophie.

“Thanks, sweetheart.”

Rachel had just finished getting ready for her date with Ewan.

She was meeting him at the cinema at half past seven and was checking the contents of her handbag before she left.

“You’ll be all right tonight, Sophie, won’t you?” she asked. “I shouldn’t be late.”

“Sure, I’ll be fine, Mum, I’ve got a load of homework to do. But…”

“But what?” Rachel looked up, surprised.

It wasn’t like her daughter to be hesitant.

“I… Do you really like Ewan?”

Rachel’s eyes narrowed.

“Our first date was fun,” she said. “Why?”

“It’s not that I mind you seeing people, Mum. Honest, it isn’t. It’s good for you.

“You probably should have started before now, but… well, you do know Ewan’s got a bit of a reputation, don’t you?”

Rachel smiled.

“I know he’s flirtatious,” she admitted. “I’ve not heard anything worse than that. Have you?”

Sophie shook her head.

“No. I just think you deserve the best. I don’t want you getting hurt.”

Rachel hid a smile, she didn’t know what to say. What a wonderful daughter, to care so much.

She gave her a hug.

“I love you Sophie,” she told her. “And don’t worry, I know how to take care of myself.”

She kissed Sophie’s cheek.

“I have to go now, sweetheart, or I’ll be late, but we’ll chat later. OK?”


Sophie waved her off, but Rachel thought that she still didn’t look happy. Who knew that her daughter was so protective?

Rachel was a few minutes late to the cinema, but there was no sign of Ewan.

It was a crisp, frosty evening and she could see her breath in the air.

The stars were beginning to prick the dark sky. It was beautiful, but cold.

Soon she decided to wait inside instead.

The foyer was lovely and warm. The floor glittered and each wall was covered in screens.

The smell of popcorn and anticipation brought back memories of when she was a teenager.

Rachel smiled to herself.

After standing around for a few minutes, she decided to get some popcorn.

She hadn’t been queueing long when she heard a voice behind her.

“Rachel? Is that you?”

She turned to see Dawn and Graham beaming.

“Oh, hello, you two. Having a night out?”

“We are indeed. What are you doing here? Is this another date?”

Rachel coloured.

“I’m supposed to be meeting Ewan, but he’s a little late.”

“Never mind. We’ll get our snacks and then we can sit and chat. Time passes faster with company.”

Before long, they were ensconced on some seats in a corner of the large vestibule, fortified with hot coffee and popcorn.

“We’ve had some close calls, but the quiz is going all right, isn’t it?” Graham began with a grin.

“Too right!” Rachel smiled. “I hope Round Three isn’t as nail-biting.”

“Me, too,” Dawn said. “It’s exhausting, and of course, those Master Minds have sailed through.”

“Yes.” Rachel laughed. “Priscilla’s in her element.”

“She is,” Graham agreed. “But you have to hand it to her, she knows her stuff.”

The others nodded.

Despite her eccentricities, Priscilla was well informed and intelligent.

“I’m so pleased for Ali and Cam, and Ewan, of course,” Dawn continued. “Not to mention that it’s great for the Flying Duck.”

“Oh, yes. I hope that one of our teams will win.”

“Hear, hear!”

Rachel smiled and glanced at her watch.

Where was Ewan? They would miss the start of the film at this rate.

Graham cleared his throat.

“The programmes are very long. I wouldn’t worry; there are so many adverts before the film starts.”

Rachel nodded, but she was beginning to feel annoyed. Surely he could have texted to let her know he was delayed?

Rachel checked her phone – nothing.

“I think we did well with our homework,” Dawn said, changing the subject. “We wouldn’t have won at all if we hadn’t done some music research.”

“Perhaps.” Rachel smiled. “But Neil’s geography answers were really our saving grace.”

Dawn and Graham had to agree. Neil had been magnificent. Without his additional research there was no doubt they would have come a cropper.

Rachel glanced at her phone again. Still no message.

Dawn and Graham exchanged glances.

“I thought Ali looked better on Saturday,” Dawn said. “Didn’t you think so?”

“Oh, yes.” Rachel felt a bit guilty that she hadn’t really noticed.

“Did you visit her?” she asked Dawn.

“I did indeed, and she was very down. It’s such a difficult situation.

“I hope I helped, but words can only do so much.”

Graham took Dawn’s hand.

“I’m sure you were a huge help, love,” he told her. “Maybe that’s the reason she’s cheered up.”

Dawn didn’t look convinced, but she didn’t have time to reply.

Graham checked his watch and rose to his feet.

“I’m sorry, Rachel,” he said. “We’ll have to go. Our film is starting in a minute.”

“Lovely to see you, honey. Have a great time with Ewan when he comes,” Dawn added, as she followed him.

“Thank you.” Rachel tried to smile, but as her friends disappeared, she felt far from happy.

She looked at her phone one more time. It was 8.15.

There was no message and no sign of Ewan.

What was going on? Surely he wasn’t going to stand her up?

To be continued…

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