The Call Of The City – Episode 15

Kerry relaxing in a bath as Daniel makes a meal Illustration by Sailesh Thakrar

Meg had led Grace into their father’s hospital room. Kerry had followed, telling herself sternly not to feel miffed. This was Grace’s moment.

But it had been Grace’s moment a lot lately, and it continued all afternoon as Kerry took notes and fetched tea and Meg told Grace how much better it was now she was there.

“I’m feeling a bit out of sorts,” she told Daniel now as they pulled into the darkened yard of the farmhouse. “It will pass.”

“A little bit out of sorts is understandable.” He helped her out of the car. “But it’s good Grace is back, isn’t it?”

“Of course.” Kerry hoped she sounded enthusiastic. She didn’t begrudge her sister anything. Yet . . .

“Aha!” Daniel called triumphantly as he opened the door of the Rayburn and peered inside. “The heating’s on. I’ll run you a bath.”

“Thank you, Daniel. You’re an angel.”

‘No, you are.” Daniel turned to look at her seriously. “You’ve been a brick these last few days for your whole family.

“It has to have taken a toll, but I hope you realise how much everyone appreciates you.

“Your mum was saying she couldn’t have coped without you there, not even for a minute.”

“When did she say that?”

“When you were in the loo. She told Grace about everything you’d done.”

“It really wasn’t that much,” Kerry mumbled.

She felt terrible for being a bit irritated about it all.

It was petty. Yet she couldn’t deny that she was glad her mum had noticed.

“It was,” Daniel insisted.

He reached for her hand and drew her up from the kitchen chair she’d sunk into as soon as she’d come through the door.

“And now, dear wife, it’s time for your bath.”

Kerry smiled, letting him lead her up the stairs to the big, old bathroom at the back of the house, with the claw-footed tub and the leaky, creaky pipes.

She sat on a stool while Daniel ran the tub full of hot, steaming water, adding half a bottle of bath bubbles for good measure.

“You’re spoiling me,” she protested as the bubbles rose above the rim of the tub and Daniel left, to return with her favourite comfort food, hot milk, and cheese on toast.

“I don’t do it often enough,” he said gruffly. “I spend more time with the sheep than with you most days, and I know this has all been difficult. Let me spoil you a little, Kerry.”

“All right,” Kerry said, her heart full of love for her hard-working husband.

She still felt deeply worried about her dad, but something in her spirit had eased and lifted.

Grace stared at her wan reflection, the stark branches of the horse chestnut tree in the garden visible behind her.

She’d been back home for a week, and it felt strange, as if she’d never been to New York at all.

The days had been taken up helping Mum and visiting Dad, and tomorrow she was due to start back at her part-time jobs.

She could hear from Juilliard any day, but she told herself not to get her hopes up. Even if she was offered a place, which she most likely wouldn’t be, how could she take it now?

“Grace?” Meg’s voice wafted up the stairs. “Are you ready?”

“Yes, Mum.”

Like the days before, they were off to the hospital in York to visit her father.

A week on from his surgery, he could get out of bed and walk down the corridor with the aid of a walker, but it exhausted him for the rest of the day.

Still, Meg was determined to help with his rehabilitation, even though it drained her both physically and emotionally.

These days Grace’s mum seemed almost as depleted as her dad.

“How are you doing, Mum?” Grace asked once they were in the car, heading towards York.

Meg had asked her to drive. It was as if the heart attack had sapped something from her, making her old before her time, just like Grace’s father. They were both only in their late fifties.

“I’m fine, love,” Meg answered with a tired smile. “The consultant might tell us today when Dad can come home.”

“That will be good.”

But Grace couldn’t imagine her father at home when he still seemed so ill and tired. How would he climb the stairs to their bedroom?

What if something happened? Their house was 45 minutes from the hospital.

When they arrived at her father’s room, Andrew was sitting up in bed, a smile of welcome on his face.

Meg bent to kiss him.

“You’re looking well.”

“As are you, darling,” he replied. “The consultant’s been – he thinks I can go home tomorrow!”

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.