The Ties That Bind – Episode 30

Characters from the serial, Evelyn and Simon

“Well, I’ve faced up to the fact that your mother and I are definitely over,” he said.

Janie gasped.

“Don’t say that, Dad, she might come round. If –”

“No, Janie, you mustn’t think like that. It’s been over for a long time. I just wouldn’t admit it.”

“Oh, Dad, that’s so sad.”

“Of course it’s sad, but it’s time to move on. It’s pointless clinging on to the past just because you’re scared of the future.

“Life goes on. I can see that now.” He forced himself to say it. “And you should face it, too, Janie.”

“What do you mean?”

“I know you’ve been like me, hoping we’d get back together, but it’s not going to happen.”

“Not if she’s still got two other men on the go.”

Phil was surprised at the sudden anger that flashed across his daughter’s face.

“Is that what you think? Is that why you fell out?”

She remained silent.

“Janie, you have it wrong – I did, too,” Phil said earnestly. “Dan told me.

“When I overheard her on the phone that day, it wasn’t another man – she was talking to her boss.”

“Maybe. But there was another one,” Janie replied. “Some other guy called her that same day, when she asked you round for lunch.”

“No, Janie, she didn’t. You asked me round. I – I shouldn’t have come.”

“But –”

“Your mum’s a free agent, Janie,” he said quietly. “She can see who she likes.”

“So you’re OK about her going out with this Simon?”

Phil was silent.

“You’re not, are you?” she demanded.

“Well, no.” He swallowed hard. “But that’s my problem, not your mum’s.”

“But –”

“Janie, no-one can force you to make up with your mum,” Phil said sadly. “All I can say is that you’re hurting yourself more than anyone else. It really isn’t worth it.”

He could see by Janie’s expression that he’d said enough.

“Anyway, I’d better say cheerio. I have to go for my evening walk – doctor’s orders.”

He tried to smile.

“At least I don’t feel the way I used to – as if I was walking through treacle,” he went on.

“That’s good.” Janie’s smile was a little strained.

“Thanks for your help, Janie. It’s done me good to talk to you.

“I should have spoken to someone months ago.”

“Any time, Dad. Thanks for phoning.”

“Bye, Janie.”

As he hung up, Phil was overcome with weariness.

Fortunately, he recognised that it was caused by the emotional strain of a painful conversation – a fact that wouldn’t have occurred to him a few months ago.

At least it showed he must be on the road to recovery.

He sighed.

A thrush began singing its evening song and he stood up to look outside.

It was a peaceful evening, and the lowering sun sparkled on a pond in a neighbour’s garden.

A woman was taking in washing. A child laughed somewhere in the distance. A man locked his shed.

Just an ordinary evening in ordinary people’s lives.

Phil had used the excuse of a walk to end the call, but now he realised that it was just what he wanted.

The fresh evening air cleared his mind as he explored the streets, admiring gardens as he passed.

He missed having a garden of his own.

He’d always enjoyed comparing the designs of gardens, the different plants that were used, the way they were laid out.

Some of those he passed were beautifully tended, but some were in dire need of attention.

Suddenly, he stopped in his tracks, wondering.

His lips curved upwards and an unfamiliar feeling crept over him.

After all this time, instead of the chilling numbness he’d been feeling, he was aware of genuine excitement and happiness pulsating through his body.

His footsteps were brisk as he returned home, an idea germinating in his mind.

To be continued…

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