The Call Of The City – Episode 27

daily serial the call of the city the people's friend

Meg sipped her tea as she stared down at the bill.

Last weekend a pipe had burst in the downstairs bathroom, and the cost of an emergency plumber to be called out on a Sunday was enough to make her eyes water.

And that was without taking into consideration the additional cost of redoing the bathroom and replacing the floorboards.

Home insurance would cover a lot of it, but not enough. She lifted another piece of paper, this one an estimate for a new roof.

It was even dearer than she’d anticipated – or perhaps it was simply that Andrew had always been the one to deal with home repairs and the accompanying expense.

Meg sighed and put her cup down, resting her chin in her hand as she gazed out of the kitchen window.

In a few weeks Andrew would have his assessment for returning to work, but they already knew what the outcome was going to be. He’d received the results from the latest angiogram, and his consultant had suggested more surgery.

He wasn’t going to be cleared to resume even light duties while he was still so tired, finding it difficult to climb stairs or walk faster than a stroll.

Meg had the feeling that Andrew’s colleague, Ian, would suggest something else instead – the dreaded early retirement.

How would Andrew take that?

Lately he’d been determined to “get back into things”, as if it were simply an issue of mind over matter. Or, in his case, heart.

He’d started pottering about in the garden and going for walks, things that should have been good, but he pushed himself too hard and he often came back grey-faced and wheezing.

When she cautioned him to take things more slowly, he brushed her aside or, worse, snapped at her.

“Mum?” Kerry’s voice came down the hallway and Meg stood up, brushing at her eyes. The last thing she wanted was for Kerry to suspect she was a bit low. Her older daughter had been looking rather careworn herself these last few weeks, although she’d insisted she was fine.

“In the kitchen, darling. Come through.”

Kerry appeared in the doorway, and Meg kissed her cheek.

“This is a lovely surprise. Were you in the area?”

“I had some errands to do in town.” Kerry sat down at the table. “How are you? How’s Dad?”

“He’s out in the garden, actually,” Meg said brightly. “Seeing to the roses.”

Kerry frowned.

“Should he do that?”

“You know your father,” Meg answered as she filled the kettle. “You can’t keep him down.”

“Yes, but I thought he was advised to have more surgery. Surely he should take it easy until then?”

“One would like to think so.”

Meg heard the wobble in her voice and tried to smile.

“Tell me how you are, love. You look peaky. You’re not working too hard, I hope?”

“No.” A flush touched Kerry’s cheeks. “Actually, Mum, I have some news.”

“News?” Meg’s heart stilled. Dare she think . . .?

“I’m – well, Daniel and I are expecting a baby.”

Kerry smiled and Meg hurried to embrace her.

“Kerry, that’s so exciting. Oh, it’s good to have some happy news.”

She dabbed at her eyes, and Kerry frowned.

“Has it been that bad?”

“No, I didn’t mean . . .” Meg trailed off as she sat down. “I’m so pleased for you, that’s all. When are you due, darling?”

“End of February. I’m just past my first trimester.”

“That’s amazing.” Meg shook her head in wonder. “I’ll be a grandmother.”

“Yes, and Dad’ll be a grandad.” Kerry smiled. “You said he’s outside? Shall I go and tell him?”

“Yes. Then you can both come in for a cup of tea.”

Meg stood by the window and watched as Kerry made her way through the garden.

She watched Kerry touch Andrew on the shoulder, and Andrew’s expression turn from gentle inquiry to amazement. Then they hugged.

She wished she could have had a photo of that moment. As it was, she knew she’d always hold it in her heart.

Kerry and Andrew walked back to the house arm in arm, and Meg wiped the tears from her eyes as she began to make the tea.

“You’ve heard the news?” Andrew asked as he came through the door. “We’re going to be grandparents!”

“Yes, it’s amazing.” Meg beamed at them both. “Have you rung Grace to tell her?”

Meg told herself she imagined the slight, strained pause.

“Not yet,” Kerry said. “She’s been so busy . . .”

Now that Meg thought of it, she realised Grace hadn’t called in weeks, and it gave her a pang of worry.

She’d been so concerned about Andrew she hadn’t thought about Grace.

“Ring her, Kerry,” she said. “You could do it from here. We’ll Skype.”

“No, I don’t want to bother everyone. And who knows what Grace’s schedule is.”

Meg took in her daughter’s slight frown and decided to let it go.

Kerry would tell her sister her news when she was ready.

To be continued . . .