The Ties That Bind – Episode 36

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

“Hi, Mrs Canning,” he said. “How’s the leg?”

“Better, thank you. How kind of you to remember.” The elderly lady smiled at him as she leaned a rake against the hedge. “Do you have a minute, dear?”

“Sure. What’s up?”

“I was admiring your garden the other day. It’s really lovely.”

“Oh. Thanks. Yes, it’s not bad.”

“Does your mother do it herself? Or does she have someone who comes in?”

“Oh, no, Mum hates gardening,” Dan said with a laugh.

“Actually, my dad’s been doing it for her. That was always his department and he’s working shorter hours at the moment.”

“Oh, I see.” Mrs Canning’s face fell. “I was hoping to find a gardener who could come round to do mine every week or so.

“It’s getting a bit too much for me and yours always looks so nice.”

“That’s kind of you to say.”

“Never mind, I’m sure I’ll find someone. I’ll ask around.”

The old lady looked so downhearted that Dan’s mind shifted into a higher gear.

“Wait a minute. Can you give me your phone number, Mrs Canning?

“My dad’s thinking of starting his own gardening business. This might be the perfect chance.”

“That would be lovely.”

Her smile convinced Dan that he’d done the right thing.

He was in a more buoyant frame of mind as he continued on his way to the other end of the street.

Dad would be chuffed to bits to know that he already had a customer.

Once inside the house, he forwarded Mrs Canning’s number to Dad right away.

He was about to put away his phone when he noticed a couple of unread e-mails.

His heart started hammering when he saw who the first one was from. This was about the job in Bristol! But . . .

. . . we regret to inform you . . .

He slumped on the sofa, waves of disappointment crashing over him.

This couldn’t be happening. His dream job. After all that effort, all those weeks of waiting, hoping, planning for his new life.

Dan wasn’t sure how long he sat there, feeling himself sinking into despair. He knew what everyone would say. It’s not the end of the world.

But just at the moment, it felt a bit like it.

He almost didn’t answer when his phone rang, but then he saw it was Janie.

Someone had to be the first to hear and Janie probably wouldn’t be the worst person to tell.

As it turned out, he was right. Janie never wasted time on platitudes.

“That’s tough. They’re idiots,” was her emphatic response. “Well, you know what you should do now, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I suppose,” Dan said gloomily. “Put it behind me, work on my personal statement, start looking for another job, try to keep cheerful . . .”

“Heck, no!” she interrupted. “You should forget all about it for a couple of days.”

“What?” Dan asked, confused. No matter what, Janie always managed to wrong-foot him somehow.

“What you need to do is eat several huge bars of chocolate and at least four multi-packs of crisps,” Janie told him authoritatively.

“Then you need a night out on the town with your mates,” she continued. “Then you can start all that other stuff.”

“Janie, you’re nuts.” But Dan could feel a smile returning to his face as he listened to his sister.

“Believe me, it’s the best way. Sure, it’s rotten news. Sure, you’re disappointed. But tell me honestly, at this precise moment, what would you prefer to do?

“Well . . .”

“A night in with Netflix is also acceptable.” Janie laughed. “Dan, I promise you, you’ll feel better about starting again if you give yourself a break tonight.”

Janie was what their gran would have called “a real tonic”, Dan thought.

By the time their call ended, he’d even managed to laugh a little. Only a little, but it was a start.

To be continued…

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