The Call Of The City – Episode 06

All the main characters Illustration by Sailesh Thakrar

Juliet hung up the phone and stared distantly out the picture window at the view of Central Park.

The branches of the trees were stark and glittering, encased in ice on this snowy January day.

Grace was coming to stay. Her niece. She could hardly credit it.

Juliet took a deep breath and smoothed one hand over her glossy silver bob, realising as she did so that her hands were shaking.

She was surprised and, frankly, upset by her niece’s call.

It made her see how little contact there had been between her and her sister, as well as her sister’s family, all these years.

Maybe, now, she had an opportunity to change that.

“If you leave, I don’t want you to come back. Ever!”

Meg’s voice, shaking with hurt and rage, echoed through Juliet’s mind and she closed her eyes.

She had come back, once, because she’d been desperate to see her sister’s children.

But that visit hadn’t gone well, and she’d stayed away ever since.

She knew she hadn’t acted in an honourable way, but then, neither had Meg, and it was all so long ago now.

With a shuddering sigh, Juliet turned from the window and went to make up the bed in her guest bedroom.

“Flight 992 to New York City about to board.”

With a host of butterflies in her stomach, Grace headed towards the gate.

She’d said goodbye to her mother at the check-in desk; Meg had insisted on driving her to Manchester for her flight even though Grace had said she could take the train.

Last night they’d gone out to the local pub in Hawes for a family dinner; Kerry and Daniel had come, too.

While Daniel had been his cheerful self, Kerry had seemed quiet and strained.

Grace had wondered at it but she hadn’t had time to ask her sister if anything was wrong, and in any case Kerry never really told her anything.

But Kerry had given her a big, tight hug before she left, and had bought her one of those squishy travel pillows that hooked around your neck as a good-luck present.

Her parents had given her a necklace, a musical note pendant that Grace wore now.

She touched it briefly, taking both comfort and courage from it and the knowledge that her whole family wished her well on this grand adventure.

Even Aunt Juliet had e-mailed her that morning with helpful information about the airport arrivals, and an effusive declaration that she couldn’t wait to see her.

Her audition was in two days’ time; Grace had wanted some time to recover from jet lag and see the city she might one day actually live in.

Juliet had promised to show her around, and Grace couldn’t wait to get there, even if, right now, she felt a little nervous.

She smiled at the attendant as she handed over her passport and then boarded the plane.

Another nervous smile for the businessman sitting next to her, then Grace settled back in her seat and waited for her adventure to begin.

Eight hours later, Grace had cleared Customs and was stepping through the doors that led to the international arrivals hall.

She realised she wasn’t actually sure what her aunt looked like. The latest photo her mother had was a decade old.


A woman stood in front of her, petite and elegant, her silver hair cut into a sleek bob. Her hazel eyes now crinkled in concern were the same colour as both Meg and Grace’s.

“Aunt Juliet?” The name sounded awkward on Grace’s lips, but there was no doubt this was her aunt.

Juliet’s uncertain smile widened and she stepped forward to embrace Grace in a perfume-scented hug.

“It’s so lovely to see you at last, my dear. Welcome to New York.”

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.