The Ties That Bind – Episode 35

Characters from the serial, Evelyn and Simon with Lynda and Alex in a bar.

Phil was making a point of getting off the bus a few stops early these days.

He’d become used to going for walks when he was off work, so it was partly to continue with the exercise. It also gave him more time to think.

He kept thinking he’d made his final decision, then losing his nerve. A young couple strolled past him and he felt a pang of regret to see how utterly absorbed they were with each other.

It had been a long time since he and Evelyn had been like that, at the start of life’s journey together.

Another couple across the street caught his eye. They were a bit older but still seemed to be enjoying each other’s company after – he assumed – a lifetime together.

Of course, it might be second or third time around. Life was strange, with all its twists and turns.

He certainly hadn’t expected the way things were with him now. His divorce was through and he felt remarkably calm.

More than that, he’d moved on. He smiled.

No-one had been more surprised than him that he hadn’t rushed round to Evelyn to try again for a reconciliation when he heard that she’d split up with Simon.

Both of his kids were grown up now. Janie studying, Dan keeping his fingers crossed for his dream job.

Everything was changing. Perhaps it was time to make up his mind. He’d have to wait and see how today went.

He sighed when he reached work and collected his keys from reception as he’d done for more years than he could remember.

It was another perfectly ordinary day in his pleasant, slightly cramped office with its window overlooking a small park.

Forms were explained to clients, phone calls were made, claims filed.

Phil dealt with it all with perfect ease but his heart just wasn’t in it. He ate lunch at his desk, still deep in thought.

At last, at about half past three, everything clicked into place in his mind. He pushed back his chair and walked steadily to his line manager’s office.

“Phil. Good to see you. Everything all right?”

“Yes, fine, thanks.” Phil closed the door behind him. “I appreciate the support I’ve been given by the firm, but I wonder if I can talk to you about something?”

“Sure, Phil. Shoot.”

“I’ve reread the e-mail about the firm looking for people to take voluntary redundancy.” He leaned forward, glad to hear that his voice was firm and sure.

“I’d like to apply.”

Dan was looking forward to an evening in. Work had been a nightmare again.

There never seemed to be enough staff and a lot of those who were there didn’t seem interested.

He sighed.

He wasn’t interested himself, but he at least did what was required of him.

His boss wasn’t in the best of moods these days and Dan couldn’t help thinking it had something to do with him.

He’d turned down Marcus’s offer of management training and it hadn’t gone down well. Nevertheless, Dan knew that he’d made the right decision.

He wanted to use his qualifications, and although he hadn’t heard back about his interview in Bristol, he was certain that something else would turn up.

Almost certain.

He thrust his doubts away. No matter what, he wasn’t interested in the management training and seeing how badly Dad had been affected by sticking to something which made him miserable, he was determined not to go down the same unhappy route.

He quickened his pace. Mum was working a late shift so a couple of hours to himself stretched invitingly in front of him.

“Dan? Dan, is that you?” a quavering voice called.

Dan slowed down and looked over the hedge into the garden beside him.

To be continued…

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