The Ties That Bind – Episode 7

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

It was several moments before Evelyn could find her voice. Panic-stricken, she searched frantically for something to say.

She scanned Phil’s face, and on it she read such hope. Hope she’d given him by agreeing to meet him.

They’d been through a great deal together over the years, sharing joy and sorrow, good times and bad.

Dear Phil. She still cared for him, but not in the way he cared for her. Getting back together wasn’t on the cards.

Her mind whirling, she was aware of only one thing. Her reaction to his declaration was crucial.

She was a mature and caring woman and she had to let him down gently . . .

“Start again? Phil, are you crazy?” She regretted the words instantly but Phil only laughed and squeezed her hand more tightly.

“Perhaps I am, a bit,” he confessed. “All I know is that I was crazy to think I could live without you, Ev.”

Evelyn couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

She removed her hand from his with difficulty.

“Phil, I –”

“Evelyn, listen to me, please.” Phil fidgeted nervously. “I’m not sleeping. My work’s suffering – I’m struggling to concentrate.

“I’ve lost interest in everything.”

As he made this halting confession, he looked so anxious and forlorn that Evelyn was genuinely concerned.

“Oh, Phil, I’m sorry,” she said. “Things are always so much worse if you’re not getting any sleep. Have you been to the doctor?”

Phil shook his head, staring down at the tablecloth.

“It’s not only the lack of sleep. I’m miserable, Evelyn,” he murmured. “I can’t stand not being with you.

“Splitting up with you was the worst decision I’ve ever made. We shouldn’t be getting a divorce.”

“We both wanted it, remember?” Evelyn spoke gently. “It wasn’t an easy decision, but we agreed –”

“I don’t want it any more.” Phil spoke more firmly as he looked up at her again. “Please, Evelyn. I just want to come home.”

“But –”

“Dad! What a surprise! And – oh, hi, Mum!”

Janie’s voice startled them both.

They looked up and there she was, standing beside their table, smiling.

“Hello, love.” Phil stood up to hug his daughter. Evelyn stared at him, mystified.

All signs of despair had disappeared. So all of a sudden he was fine?

Janie was looking curiously at her.

“Janie,” she said weakly. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m here with a few mates.” Janie nodded to a table with a group of young people all dressed up to the nines like herself.

“Will you join us for a few minutes?” Phil said.

“Well, just for a second. I was fetching my phone – I left it in my jacket.”

Janie slid into the seat beside her father.

“So, what’s all this?” she asked with a knowing smile. “You look cosy together.”

Phil’s eyes flicked over to Evelyn for a second and he smiled at Janie.

“As a matter of fact . . .”

Evelyn interrupted him.

“As a matter of fact, we’re just about to leave.”

“Really? Already?” Janie laughed. “We haven’t even ordered yet. You old folks have no stamina.”

“That’s right. We need our sleep, don’t we, Phil?” Evelyn said pointedly.

“Evelyn –”

“Let’s settle up, Phil.” She looked him straight in the eye. “We’re finished.”

She knew her choice of words wasn’t lost on Phil, but he deliberately averted his gaze.

Janie, happy to be on a night out with friends, was unaware of any tension.

“OK, I’ll say goodnight then. That was short and sweet,” she said with a laugh. “But we’ll catch up tomorrow, won’t we, Dad?”


“Sunday lunch, remember?” Janie said. “I haven’t been home for a while and Dan has a day off, so Mum said we’re all having lunch together.”

“Really?” Phil’s face lit up once more, and as they both looked at Evelyn, she was struck anew by their similarities: both tall, with thick hair and the same shape of face.

From the moment she was born, Janie had resembled her father closely, and she’d always been a daddy’s girl.

Now both of them were smiling, glad to see each other again, both happy to be having an evening out.

And now, both expecting a family lunch tomorrow, at her house.

It was understandable that Janie would assume tomorrow’s plan included her father, Evelyn realised. Especially having found the two of them here together.

After all, she had said, “We’ll all be having lunch together.”

“Oh, looks like our menus have arrived,” Janie said, glancing over to her friends.

She stood up, paused and smiled at them both again; a softer, hopeful smile.

“I’m really happy to see you together again.”

Evelyn was horrified.

“Oh, Janie, it’s not –”

But Janie had whisked away to join her friends.

Phil was still smiling as he signalled for the bill.

“I didn’t realise Janie was back,” he said. “It’ll be nice to see them both tomorrow.”

Evelyn’s heart felt like lead. What a disastrous end to the evening.

She should never have agreed to meet Phil. It had only served to give him false hope about a reconciliation and now Janie had jumped to the same conclusion.


To be continued…

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