The Call Of The City – Episode 02

All the main characters Illustration by Sailesh Thakrar

Dear Miss Cavendish,

After reviewing your application materials and listening to the audio recording, we are pleased to inform you that you have been called for a live audition on February 5.

Grace clutched the letter to her chest. They wanted her! Admittedly only for an audition, but it was the first step on a journey she’d been longing to take.

In that moment, she felt nothing could stop her.

Of course they’d accept her audition! Then she’d go to Juilliard, live in New York, play her beloved violin in front of crowds of hundreds, thousands . . .


She started at the sound of her mother’s voice calling from the kitchen.

She rose from her place on the bench, realising she needed to get ready for work.

“Coming, Mum.”

She folded the letter and slid it back in the envelope, her heart singing as she hurried inside.

Meg Cavendish noticed her daughter’s flushed face.

“Darling, are you OK?”

“I’m fine, Mum. Really good, actually.”

“Oh?” Meg smiled and reached for the kettle. “Have a cup of tea and tell me all about it. You have a few minutes.”

Meg worried sometimes that she’d neglected Grace in the run-up to Kerry’s wedding. There had been so much to attend to, especially with Kerry working full-time for the Farmers Trust.

“I’ve had some news.” Grace produced a letter.

“News? But you didn’t apply to university.”

Despite their urgings, Grace had put off applying. Meg knew her daughter wanted to pursue music, but how practical that was, she didn’t know.

“No, I didn’t.”

Grace’s face was flushed, her eyes shining like stars.

She looked younger than her nineteen years, and for a second Meg saw her as she’d been at six years old, filled with joy for life.

“Go on, then. Who’s the letter from?”

“The Juilliard School.”

“Juilliard!” Meg stared at her blankly.

“In New York City.”

“I know where it is.”

Juliet had worked at Juilliard for a while when she’d first left for America.

She’d sent Meg a letter, telling her about that all-important first job. It had felt as if her little sister was thumbing her nose.

See? I did it, even though you said I couldn’t.

“I sent them a recording of the concert I did last winter,” Grace continued. “They’ve asked me to come for a live audition!”

Her voice rose in excitement and, despite the shock, Meg found a smile.

“Grace, that’s wonderful. And you didn’t breathe a word of this? Well done!”

“My audition is in two weeks,” Grace continued. “I’ve no idea what to play.”

Meg took out cups, trying to order her thoughts. As pleased as she was that Grace had got an audition, she couldn’t deny she didn’t want her daughter going to New York.

“When did you apply?”


“Why didn’t you tell us?” She tried to smile. “It’s an awfully big secret to keep.”

Grace bit her lip, a habit from childhood.

“I didn’t want folk feeling sorry for me if I didn’t get called for an audition.”

“But you did.”

Meg shook her head, trying to take it in.

The kettle started to whistle and she took it off the Aga’s hotplate.

“So, what will you do?”

“Go, of course!”

Meg sat down at the kitchen table, memories rushing in.

“Go, of course.”

She’d had nearly the same conversation with Juliet 25 years ago, right after their mother had died and their father had had a stroke.

“I can’t stay here and wither away, Meg. You’ve got to understand. I need to be free.”

“Mum?” Grace touched her hand. “Are you OK?”

“Sorry, love.” Meg blinked back the memories.

This was Grace, not Juliet, and the situation was quite different. Yet . . .

“You don’t have to worry about the airfare,” Grace said. “I’ve saved enough.”

“Oh, love.” Meg shook her head. “I’m not worried about that.”

“But you are worried.”

Meg couldn’t deny it. She was terrified.

History was repeating itself, and she felt almost as anxious and angry as she had back then.

To be continued…

Allison Hay

I joined the "My Weekly" team thirteen years ago and, more recently, "The People's Friend". I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazines. I manage the digital content for the brands, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters.