The Ties That Bind – Episode 21

Characters from the serial, Evelyn, Phil and Dan in a kitchen.

Phil felt completely exhausted, head spinning, body aching. What on earth had sparked this off?

Perhaps it was that phone call with Janie last night.

She’d been in high spirits because she’d been awarded an almost perfect mark for her latest college project.

“Well done, Janie. ” He knew she had put a lot of effort into it. “I bet your mum was pleased, too.”

There was a pause.


“Mum and I aren’t speaking just now, Dad.”


“We haven’t been in touch for a while – not since that weekend we all had lunch together.”

Phil was astounded.

Despite all the differences between himself and Evelyn, he couldn’t ever remember a time when she “hadn’t been speaking” to either of their children.

Evelyn had always been the linchpin, the one that the whole family revolved around. Even he could acknowledge that.

“Janie, that doesn’t sound like your mum,” he began. “What on earth happened? Can you –”

“I don’t want to talk about it, Dad.”

The stubborn tone of his daughter’s voice was eerily reminiscent of his own and his heart sank.

“How’s work?” Janie asked, determined to change the subject.

The change didn’t bring any cheer to Phil.

“Oh – work. That’s not exactly my favourite subject, to be honest.”

“What’s up, Dad?”

“Oh, it’s just a bad patch.”

Only he’d been going through this “patch” for a very long time now.

“Well, take a holiday.” Everything was simple in Janie’s world.

“You could be right. I think I do need a break.”

“Well, you can always come down here. Spring-clean the flat while we’re at uni.” Janie laughed.

Phil’s fanatical tidiness was legendary.

“Some holiday,” he said.

“Well, how about a world cruise? I’ll come, too,” she countered, still chuckling.

To her surprise, there was no comeback.

“Dad? Are you there?”

“I’m here.” Phil sighed heavily. “You know something, Janie? Sometimes I wish –”

“Oh, Dad, I’ll have to go – our pizza’s just arrived and I’m starving,” Janie interrupted. “Speak soon.”

She’d cut him off just as he’d been on the point of vocalising his innermost feelings for the first time.

It wasn’t Janie’s fault. She was young and carefree, enjoying her student life, just as she should be.

She didn’t need to listen to her father talking about his mid-life crisis – or whatever this was.

He’d sat by himself in his lonely living-room and forgotten all about the cup of tea by his side, thinking about this situation between Evelyn and Janie.

He hoped it would be resolved in time.

After all, relationship problems were not irreparable. He understood that now, despite what he’d feared.

His mind drifted back to the last time he’d spoken to Evelyn a couple of weeks ago.

In her text, she’d asked to meet him, saying she wanted to sort everything out, once and for all.

That was the message that had finally forced him to face up to the truth.

Phil knew what she was going to say. Those weren’t the words of someone who wanted reconciliation.

“You have to understand, Phil,” she’d said to him. “I tried to tell you – I did try, but you . . .”

“I know. I know.” He’d tried to touch her arm, but she’d pulled away and he’d felt another part of himself die.

“I’m sorry, Evelyn. I know you tried to tell me. I didn’t listen. I couldn’t let myself believe it was over.”

“But it is, Phil. You know that now. Neither of us wanted to admit it, but we grew apart years ago.”

Evelyn had had tears in her eyes – it was possibly the first real truth they’d shared for years.

They’d parted amicably late that evening, the final, irrevocable ending of their marriage.

The only good thing about it was that there was no longer any animosity between them.

To be continued…

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