The Call Of The City – Episode 44

Allison Hay © Kerry makes tea for Meg Illustration by Sailesh Thakrar

She watched them leave the coffee shop, Helena’s hair brushing Lewis’s shoulder as she tilted her head back and laughed at something he said.

Grace took a sip of her coffee, noticing that Lewis hadn’t even touched his.

She was struggling not to feel incredibly, blindingly jealous, and she had a feeling she was failing at it.

She didn’t care about the concert – she could have taken or left the solo herself.

But when she saw Lewis with the lovely Helena, when she realised he’d just been included in a select and privileged group that she couldn’t be a part of, well, that hurt worse than any missed musical opportunity.

Far, far worse.

Tears stung her eyes.

If she could have gone back to the moment at that party when Lewis had almost kissed her, she would, and this time she wouldn’t have chickened out and ducked away.

But now Grace feared it was too late, and Lewis was no longer interested in her that way.

Especially now that he seemed likely to have a whole new group of friends to hang out with.

It was better this way, she told herself as she finished her coffee and made to leave. She was here to focus on her music, her career, not some young romance.

She was being sensible, just as Lewis was. Both of them needed to put music first.

Grace told herself that, but she couldn’t quite believe it. Already she missed Lewis, and feared that their usual coffees and chats had been left by the wayside.

She hadn’t even had a chance to tell him about her dad coming home after his surgery, or her aunt’s brain tumour.

Everything had been about this wretched audition.

With a sigh, Grace started walking back towards Juilliard’s campus as leaves fluttered from the trees and a chilly wind made her pull her coat more tightly around her.

As she passed one of the buildings, she heard the sonorous strains of an orchestra practising, and knew Lewis would be in there, along with all the other chosen performers.

Lowering her head against the brisk autumnal breeze, she walked on.

Meg straightened, wincing at the crick in her back. Another box of odds and ends to donate to charity, and two bags of rubbish to take to the tip.

In the two weeks since Andrew had come home, Meg had been busy starting to sort the house out, to ready it for sale.

It was amazing how much they’d acquired over the happy decades spent there – boxes of baby clothes still in the attic; tea sets she’d picked up at charity shops to use for parties.

Home-made Christmas decorations; toys with too much sentimental value to give away; endless photos.

Much of it Meg put to one side to keep, but plenty was destined for charity or the bin. There were, she reflected sadly, so many things they no longer needed.

Still, this was an important step in the process of getting their home ready for sale.

Meg had booked an estate agent to come next week, but she wanted the house to be in better shape before then.

They’d always lived amidst cosy clutter, but she knew enough from the property shows on the telly to be aware that clutter didn’t sell a house.

The truth that she hadn’t wanted to share with Kerry or Grace was that they needed to sell this house.

Money was getting tight, and the big expense of a new roof was most certainly beyond them.

Meg knew it would mean settling for a lower price, but she told herself that was better than hanging on to the house and all its costs.

Deciding she needed a break, she switched on the kettle as she called to Andrew in the sitting-room.

“Fancy a cuppa, love?”

“Yes, please!”

Smiling at the energy she heard in his voice, Meg reached for the teapot just as the phone rang.


For a second she didn’t recognise her sister’s voice.

Juliet sounded tired, almost scared.

Meg tensed.

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.