The Call Of The City – Episode 45

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

“Juliet! Is something wrong with Grace? I mean, is she all right…?” Meg trailed off, her heart starting to hammer.

“Grace is fine. Enjoying school, as far as I can tell. Have you spoken to her recently?”

“A few weeks ago.”

Belatedly, with an uncomfortable thud of realisation, Meg recalled Grace telling her of the letter Juliet had received from hospital.

In her fear and concern for Andrew, Meg hadn’t given it much thought.

Guiltily she realised just how quickly she’d been able to dismiss her sister from her mind… as she’d done so often over the years.

“How are you, Juliet?” she asked quietly.

The kettle hummed and then switched off, and in the ensuing silence Meg heard her sister draw a ragged breath, almost as if she were holding back a sob.

“I’m not very well, actually, Meg.”

Another breath, this one even more choked.

“The truth is, I have a brain tumour.”

“Oh!” Meg sank into a chair, barely conscious of the movement.

“I just found out it is malignant,” Juliet continued, her voice wobbling. “I was hoping it would be benign and they could just let it be, but that’s not the case.”

“Oh, Juliet.”

Meg pressed one hand to her cheek, too shocked to cry.

“What does that mean?”

“I have to have surgery to remove it, although they won’t know until I’m in theatre whether they can or not.

“Apparently it depends on what kind of tumour it is; how difficult it is to remove.”

“And if they can’t?” Meg whispered.

“That wouldn’t be good.” Juliet managed a ragged laugh. “That wouldn’t be good at all.”

“Oh, Juliet.” Meg felt helpless with shock and sadness. “I’m so sorry.”

“So am I. Not just about this, but about us.” She said the word softly.

Meg was surprised.


“All these years, Meg,” Juliet said brokenly. “All these years.”

“I know.” The tears Meg had been too shocked to shed now sprang to her eyes and she wiped at them with the heel of her hand. “I know.”

“I know this is a lot to ask, after everything. And with Andrew’s health the way it is, I wouldn’t blame you for saying no. Please believe that, Meg.”

“What are you asking?” Meg whispered.

“I have surgery in two weeks’ time. It’s quite long and invasive, as you can imagine, and there are no certainties… and I’m scared.”

Her voice broke.

A tear slipped down Meg’s cheek.

“Oh, Juliet!”

“I have no right to ask you this, after the kind of sister I’ve been, or haven’t been, and also since you’ve just gone through a big operation with Andrew.

“But I have no-one else to ask, Meg, and the truth is it’s you I want. Only you.”

Juliet took a deep breath.

“Meg, will you come to New York and be with me at the hospital?”

Meg didn’t hesitate. For 30 years she’d kept her sister at a distance, because it hurt too much to do anything else.

But no matter what she’d told Grace on the phone or even herself over the years, she knew the truth now. She felt it in every fibre of her being.

“Of course I will, Juliet,” she said. “Of course I will.”

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.