The Ties That Bind – Episode 37

Characters from the serial, Evelyn and Phil with their children Dan and Janie.

“See you tomorrow,” Evelyn said wearily, heading for the door of the staff changing-room.

Her words were met with a collective groan from her colleagues.

“I don’t know if you will, to be honest. I don’t think I can face another day like today.”

Evelyn looked back at them all. Three different women, three different age groups, backgrounds and ethnicities.

Yet when she was here working with them and they were all pulling together as a team, she could honestly say that she felt closer to these people than to anyone else in the world.

They relied on each other for everything to run smoothly.

When things didn’t run smoothly, they needed each other’s support even more.

“Don’t say that. What would I do without you?” she asked, trying to bolster their enthusiasm, although it wasn’t easy at the end of a long, late shift.

“I know we’re all exhausted,” Evelyn went on. “But I don’t know what I’d do without you three in my life.”

Tired as they were, they all found the energy to share a group hug.

“Now go home, Evelyn, you’ll have us in tears.”

Evelyn laughed.

“See you tomorrow?” she asked pointedly.

“All right. Now, off you go.”

At least the smiles had returned, Evelyn thought as she left them.

She rolled her tired shoulders as the lift whisked her down to the main reception area.

It was always warm in the hospital and she was looking forward to breathing in some fresh air.

It had been a tiring shift and a number of the team had felt their patience stretching a little, but she knew she wouldn’t want any other career.

As she made her way to the bus stop, Evelyn’s thoughts were on a long soak in the bath, followed by a plate of buttered toast and a hot chocolate.

“Evelyn? Evelyn, hello!” she heard a voice shout.

She turned and her heart sank when she recognised Phil coming towards her through the fading light.

“What are you doing here, Phil?” She hoped her voice didn’t betray her exasperation.

She didn’t want hostility between herself and Phil, but she’d been making a conscious effort lately to keep away from him as much as possible.

It seemed the best thing to do, for his sake.

“I was waiting for you,” Phil said.

There was a wide smile on his face which worried her, as she remembered his old mood swings.

“Do you have time for a chat?” he asked.

“Um . . . my bus is due soon. And I’m pretty tired, to be honest.” Evelyn hoped he would take the hint.

“It won’t take long. I would have called, but . . .”

But you knew I might not answer.

“Please, Evelyn, I’m not going to argue or cause any trouble,” Phil assured her. “I have something to tell you. I think you’ll be pleased – and relieved.”

Evelyn hesitated, seeing her bus approaching.

“They’re every ten minutes,” Phil pointed out. “Come and have a cup of tea with me. Half an hour – that’s all I ask.”

A cup of tea did sound tempting so Evelyn agreed.

A few minutes later, they were sitting at a small table with a pot of tea for two and a couple of chocolate eclairs in front of them.

Phil knew her weakness for them and she smiled gratefully.

“It’s good to see you, Ev.”

“You said there’s something you want to tell me?” Evelyn prompted.

“Yes, there is. But first I want to apologise.”

“Apologise? What for?”

Phil took a deep breath.

“For all the time I spent trying to cling on to our marriage instead of admitting it was over.” He smiled ruefully. “You were right. I was wrong.”

Evelyn was surprised. She could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times she’d heard Phil admitting he was wrong.

“I could have made things a lot easier for both of us,” he added. “I’m sorry.”

Evelyn could see that he was genuinely contrite and her heart softened.

Phil might have driven her mad for the past few years, and especially in recent months, but they had loved each other once and she didn’t wish him any harm.

“I understand, Phil. You weren’t in a good place.” She smiled encouragingly. “But you’re well on the way to recovery now.”

“I don’t blame you for stopping coming round to my house,” Phil went on. “I can see that I wasn’t much company.”

“No, Phil, it wasn’t that. I just didn’t think it was fair to you.” She laid her hand on his arm.

“You’d been under so much stress for years. You needed to recover. By going round all the time, all I was doing was giving you false hope. It wasn’t fair.

“It wasn’t that I didn’t care. Really, it wasn’t. I was trying to help.”

“Thanks, Ev. That means a lot.” He smiled at her and she was pleased there was still a bond between them.

“Now, here’s the thing I wanted to tell you.” Phil clasped his hands together and leaned forward eagerly.

To be continued…

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