The Call Of The City – Episode 17

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

Neither of them spoke much on the way to York; Grace seemed as distracted as Meg. Briefly, she wondered why.

There had been no talk of Juilliard since Grace had returned, and Meg was not brave or strong enough to broach it herself.

“Kerry’s meeting us at the hospital, isn’t she?” Grace said as she turned into the car park. “She had a farm visit nearby and said she could stop in to help settle Dad at home.”


Kerry had been a godsend those first few days in hospital, but since she’d returned to work, Meg had seen less of her.

She knew her daughter was busy, and Grace, with her part-time hours, had a lot more flexibility.

But what if Grace left?

Meg couldn’t think about that now. The next hour was spent arranging Andrew’s discharge, then settling him in the car, a pillow behind his head.

He grimaced as he moved and it filled Meg with anxiety.

“I’m fine, love,” he told her. “Just a bit sore.”

Back at home, he hobbled slowly into the sitting-room, rather than the dining-room with its just-delivered hospital bed and clean, crisp sheets.

“I’ve had enough of those for a bit. Why don’t we all sit down?”

He nodded at Kerry and Daniel, who had met them back at the house.

“Come on, you lot. Let’s have a cuppa.”

“I’ll put the kettle on,” Meg murmured.

When she returned to the sitting-room with a tray of tea things, the conversation had moved from farming and the weather to Grace and her plans, which made Meg’s stomach plunge unpleasantly.

“When do you think you’ll hear from Juilliard, Grace?” Andrew asked, smiling, clearly wanting everything to be cheerful and normal again.

Grace bit her lip, looking so torn that Meg knew what she was going to say before she said it.

“Well, actually . . .”

“Milk?” she called out a bit desperately, wanting only to forestall this moment. “Sugar?”

“Milk, no sugar for me, love,” he said. “Well, Grace?”

Still Grace hesitated, and Meg’s fingers trembled as she handed out the cups of tea.

“I heard from them yesterday,” Grace finally said, her voice so quiet Meg had to strain to hear. “I got in.”

This was met with a thunderclap of silence, and then everyone began exclaiming.

At least, Andrew and Daniel did. Meg found she couldn’t speak, and Kerry was uncharacteristically silent.

“Well done, Grace,” Kerry finally said, rising to hug her sister. “That’s amazing.”

“Yes, but I don’t know if I should go.”

“What? Nonsense!” Andrew exclaimed. “If this is because of me . . .”

“I don’t want to abandon everybody,” Grace protested. “Especially now.”

“You wouldn’t be abandoning any one,” Andrew insisted. He turned to Meg, his expression determined. “Would she, Meg?”

“Of course not,” Meg said, her voice coming out firmer than she’d expected.

What else could she say? And she meant it, of course she did.

How could she not? Grace was pursuing her dream, exactly what she wanted her daughter to do.

“Thanks, Mum,” Grace said, looking near tears.

Meg walked quickly over to her and wrapped her arms around her.

“Of course I want you to go, Grace,” she said fiercely, blinking back her own tears. “Never doubt that. Not even for a minute.”

“Thanks.” With a shaky laugh, Grace eased back, wiping at her eyes. “Sorry I’m being a bit emotional.”

“It’s wonderful news,” Daniel said, and Meg glanced at him, noticing how his tone seemed the tiniest bit forced.

Then she glanced at her elder daughter, and saw how her eyes were narrowed, her lips pursed.

Kerry was in the same position Meg had been in 30 years ago. The realisation made Meg’s heart flip-flop in her chest.

But things would be different this time round, she told herself desperately.

They had to be. Didn’t they?

To be continued…

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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.