The Ties That Bind – Episode 4

The main characters from the serial, including Evelyn, Phil and their children Dan and Janie.

It wasn’t long before they discovered their mutual interest in theatre and spent some time discussing which plays they’d seen and the actors they preferred.

“How about the Bard?” Simon asked. “I was in Stratford last year and saw four of his plays in three days.”

“Oh, I’m jealous,” Evelyn said. “That sounds great.”

“Have you ever been?”

“No. I’d love to, but Phil doesn’t like Shakespeare.” Evelyn smiled.

“Of course, he’s never seen one. He’d probably enjoy it if he gave it a chance but I can’t persuade him.”

She stopped suddenly.

“I mean – I couldn’t. I couldn’t persuade him.”

She hastily turned her attention back to the bowl of peanuts in front of her, aware of Simon regarding her curiously.

“Are you still in love with him?” he asked suddenly.

Evelyn gasped.

“Why would you think that?”

“No reason.” He gave his now-familiar shrug. “You just mention him quite often, so . . . “

“No, I don’t!”

“Maybe you don’t realise you’re doing it.”

There was a short silence. Evelyn became aware that she was tapping her fingers on her glass.

“So you’re not?”

“Of course not. Our divorce is almost finalised,” she said, exasperation mounting.

“Yet you have a date tomorrow?”

“It’s not a date. He – he said he wants to talk to me about something.”

“Maybe he wants you back,” he said teasingly.

“Would you mind if we changed the subject?” Evelyn snapped at last.

“Sorry. Sure. I’ll get us a refill.” Simon went over to the bar and Evelyn took a few deep breaths to calm herself down.

She was dismayed at her reaction to Simon’s questions. He had a point.

He wasn’t the only one who’d noticed that Phil still occupied many of her thoughts.

She’d become aware of it herself lately and it was very unsettling.

When Simon returned he kept to his word about avoiding the subject.

He was good company but the damage had been done and Evelyn couldn’t help feeling relieved when the evening finally came to an end.

“I’ll phone you,” he said, and she nodded.

But she wasn’t sure if he would. And she wasn’t sure she wanted him to.

“Hi, Mum!” Dan pulled off his jacket. “Mum?”

Silence greeted him and he couldn’t help feeling disappointed when he saw his mum’s note lying on the counter.

Out for a drink. Pasta for tea. See you later. X

Of course! She’d mentioned meeting someone tonight. Probably her pal, Lynda.

He’d been so buoyed up that he’d forgotten other people had lives, too.

He looked dispiritedly at the packet of pasta Mum had left out for him. This wasn’t the evening he’d been looking forward to.

Still, Dan was his mother’s son. He was nothing if not adaptable to a change of plan.

He grabbed his jacket once more and headed out to the pizza house.

It was so close that there was never any point in having it delivered.

Besides, he enjoyed the walk.

“Hello, Dan,” a quavering voice hailed him from the garden down the street. “I haven’t seen you for a while – or your mum. How are you both?”

“Evening, Mrs Canning.” He paused to greet their elderly neighbour politely.

“We’re fine, thanks. She’s out gallivanting tonight, so I’m off for a pizza.”

“Why not? We all need to treat ourselves now and then.”

“Quite right. How are things with you?”

“My leg’s playing up a bit. I’m not sure my new tablets are helping.”

“Give them time – you’ll be back playing football by next season,” Dan joked and the old lady’s face creased with laughter.

“Take care, Mrs Canning.”

There were three more such exchanges during Dan’s short walk, which made him realise anew why he’d fallen into the habit of always setting out early.

Naturally sociable, he was always becoming embroiled in conversations or helping someone out in their local area.

It was the same in the pizza house. He knew a couple of the guys who worked there so there was a lot of friendly banter.

As he stood at the counter enjoying the mouth-watering smells, he was suddenly aware of how much he enjoyed being part of this community.

It was comforting to know he knew so many people.

When he headed back home again with his Friday night feast, he was in an unusually thoughtful mood.

If he was offered the new job, he’d be turning his back on all that was familiar; all that made him happy.

To be continued…

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