The Ties That Bind – Episode 5

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

The next morning, Evelyn was woken early by a text.

Thinking perhaps it would be from Simon, she couldn’t decide whether or not she was disappointed to discover that it wasn’t.

It was from Janie.

Hi, Mum. I’m at Waverley. I’ll be in Inverness about 11.40. Can you pick me up at station? Off Monday. X

Her heart lifted and she replied right away.

How lovely! Indulging in a slow, luxurious stretch, she tried to remember the last time both of her children had been at home at the same time.

It didn’t happen often, with Janie so far away and Dan working weekends.

By the time she’d had her shower, she’d decided to cook a traditional Sunday dinner for the three of them tomorrow and went downstairs in a better frame of mind than she would have expected after being woken up so early on a day off.

Dan was in the kitchen and a welcoming aroma of toast warmed the air.

“You’re up early. You wouldn’t catch me up at this hour on a Saturday if I didn’t have stupid work.”

“Morning. Janie woke me up. She’s on her way home. I’m picking her up.”


“I thought we’d have a proper Sunday dinner tomorrow, the three of us.”

“Cool,” Dan repeated.

She smiled. Dan had always been a man of few words.

“What time do you finish today?” she asked, flicking on the kettle.

“Six. Should be home by seven.”

“Cool.” She smiled and he grinned.

“Mum, have you got a minute?” he asked suddenly, watching her pour cereal into a bowl.

“Yes, of course. Everything all right?”

“Yeah, sure. Well, apart from work, of course. But there’s something . . . oh, rats!” He glanced at the clock and grimaced.

“I’ll miss the bus. Never mind, it’ll keep. See you tonight.”

“Yes. Oh, no – I’ll be out when you get home,” she remembered just in time. “I’m having dinner with – someone.”

“OK. Cool. I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

“Have a good day, love.”

“Huh! Fat chance,” he muttered. “See ya.”

Evelyn watched him head out of the front door. Something nagged at the back of her mind.

She knew he wasn’t happy at work but there was obviously something else on his mind.

In the usual rush and hubbub of modern life, there never seemed to be enough time to talk.

And she wouldn’t even be in tonight. A familiar wave of guilt swept over her.

For a moment or two she indulged in a little nostalgia, remembering those far-off days which she considered had been the happiest of her life, when her children were small.

Back then, whenever things went wrong, she was able to fix it.

Life was so much simpler when their only problems were a scraped knee or a hungry tummy.

It had been a happy home then, before she and Phil began to drift apart.

It was pleasant having her girl back home to visit.

To compensate for her guilty feelings about Dan, Evelyn made a conscious effort to have a real talk with Janie.

“And are you happy, love?” she asked at last as they sat at the kitchen table with coffees.

“Sure. The course is pretty tough but I’m really enjoying it,” Janie replied, rummaging for a biscuit.

“I’m glad. But I don’t mean just the course. I mean are you really happy? Is your life working out the way you’d like it to?”

Janie paused.

“Is something wrong, Mum? Are you ill?”

“No. No, of course not.”

“Then why all the weird questions?”

“They’re not weird questions!” Evelyn laughed.

“I’m just trying to catch up with you a bit – you know, make the most of this time, just the two of us.

“I expect you’ll be seeing friends this evening?”

“Actually, I’m meeting Paula quite soon.” Janie sipped her coffee, still looking warily at her.

“Are you sure everything’s all right? You seem a little on edge.”

“I suppose I am, a bit,” Evelyn admitted. “I have a decision to make at work.

“I’m not sure which area of nursing to specialise in.”

This much was true – and it was easier to discuss than to admit that she wished she could turn the clock back to when Janie was three years old.

To be continued…

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