The Call Of The City – Episode 20

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

“I’m afraid your recovery isn’t going as smoothly as we’d have liked.”

Ian Summers, the other full-time GP at Andrew’s practice, gave him a smile of sympathy.

“Or as you’d have liked, I imagine.”

“No, it certainly hasn’t.”

Andrew glanced at Meg before turning back to his colleague.

“Why is that?”

“Judging from the ECG, your heart is still under stress. I suspect there are more blocked arteries than we realised. I suggest a CT angiogram to diagnose the extent of your heart disease.”

The words sent a tremor of fear through Meg. Three months on, and they’d expected to be putting Andrew’s heart attack behind them.

Instead, things seemed to be getting worse.

“All right,” Andrew said after a moment. “And then we’ll take it from there?”

Ian nodded.

“I’ll sign you off work for another twelve weeks –”

“Twelve weeks?” Andrew looked shocked. “But I’ve already . . .”

“Considering the tests and your current state of health, it’s for the best.” Ian’s voice was gentle. “I’m sorry, Andrew. But it’s just not possible now.”

Andrew was silent as Meg drove them back to the house.

“Well, it’s not the end of the world, is it?” she said, trying to be cheerful. “Twelve weeks. Hopefully they’ll get to the bottom of what’s going on.”

Andrew shook his head.

“That will take me up to six months’ paid leave.”

Meg glanced at him uncertainly. What was he getting at? Surely he wasn’t worried about money? Andrew made a good salary and they’d paid off the mortgage a few years ago.

“After that I go to half pay,” he explained. “And if I still can’t go back to work . . .”

“You shouldn’t say that,” Meg protested. “That’s ages away, and there’s every chance you could go back after these next twelve weeks.”

“There’s every chance I’m going to have to take early retirement.” Andrew shook his head. “I don’t want to retire. I’m not ready, and we’d struggle financially.”

Andrew was fifty-four, not all that far off from retirement, but Meg knew he loved his work.

“We’d manage, Andrew,” she said. “Like we always do. We don’t have many expenses, and we’ve got some put by. We’ll be all right.”

“The house needs a new roof,” Andrew reminded her.

It was a big job that they’d put off several times already, as their house was a listed building and would require a slate roof which would run into thousands of pounds.

“Still,” Meg argued. “That won’t break us, and you could be back at work in three months.”

Andrew sighed and settled back against the seat.

“But that’s the best-case scenario.”

“And that’s the only one I want to think about,” Meg said firmly.

Back in the house, while Andrew went upstairs to rest, she found herself thinking about worst-case scenarios that had tormented her for many sleepless nights.

What if Andrew couldn’t go back to work? What if the house needed more repair than they could afford?

It was 200 years old, and while they’d taken care of it, it had always been on a bit of a budget.

Now, as she waited for the kettle to boil, Meg could see water stains on the ceiling, and feel a wonky floorboard beneath her, suggesting some rot had set into the old, weathered boards.

Anxiety tightened the knots already in her stomach. She was already worried about Andrew’s health, and Grace being so far away. Now she had to worry about money, too?

With a sigh Meg reached for the kettle and poured water into the pot. It was only after she’d made it that she realised a mug would have done just as well. Grace wasn’t home any more to drink a cuppa with her.

Tears filled her eyes and she blinked them back. She was not going to cry about this.

She’d told herself over and over again that going to Juilliard was going to be good for Grace. Just because her younger daughter was in New York did not mean history was repeating itself.

Still, Kerry’s silence on the subject, and her faint resentment towards her sister, made Meg wonder otherwise. Did Kerry feel beholden to look after her and Andrew?

For heaven’s sake, they were only in their fifties. They didn’t need much managing, surely?

The last few months had been such a blur, and Andrew’s health concerns so overwhelming, that Meg had been grateful for her daughters’ support. But not at the expense of their wellbeing.

She would never want to put Kerry or Grace in the position she and Juliet had been in, having to jettison their plans to care for their parents.

Of course, Juliet hadn’t jettisoned anything, except perhaps Meg herself.

With a sigh, Meg sank on to a chair at the kitchen table, a cup of tea cradled in her hands.

Her thoughts circled endlessly. One thing was for certain – with these new money worries, they wouldn’t be able to plan a trip to New York, as she’d half-promised Grace.

To be continued . . .


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