The Ties That Bind – Episode 8

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

“Phil, this isn’t going to happen,” she said desperately. “When I said we were all having lunch, I meant –”

“I know what you meant,” Phil said smoothly, “but think about it, Evelyn. We managed to enjoy ourselves this evening, didn’t we?”

“Yes,” Evelyn reluctantly agreed.

“I’d love it if we could all have lunch together tomorrow, Ev. And I think it would mean a lot to Dan and Janie, too.”

“I’m sure it would.” Evelyn felt a flicker of unease at the rapid change in Phil’s mood.

Only moments ago, he’d been a desperately unhappy man, nervous, pleading, tense, near tears.

He seemed perfectly rational now.

“Can we just see how it goes? For their sakes, if nothing else?”

Evelyn was still unsure. Something didn’t feel quite right, although she couldn’t put her finger on it.

But one thing she did know was that Janie would be extremely disappointed if Phil wasn’t included for lunch tomorrow.

She sighed.

“I’ll see you around half past twelve,” she said.

“Smells great, Mum.” Dan came into the kitchen carrying a collection of plates, mugs and glasses.

“I see you’ve been tidying your room,” Evelyn said wryly.

“Sorry.” Dan’s grin told a different story. “What time’s Dad getting here?”

“I said about half past twelve.” Evelyn glanced at the clock and her stomach clenched as she realised it was almost that time.


As Dan wandered off again, Janie bounced in.

“When’s Dad coming?”

“In about ten minutes.” Evelyn stifled her irritation.

It was only natural that the kids should be looking forward to seeing Phil. She just hoped they – and Phil – wouldn’t start to expect it to become normal again.

She felt frazzled. She hadn’t slept well, mainly because of Phil’s announcement and his worrying behaviour last night, and the kitchen was hot and steamy.

She was running out of space, she’d forgotten to warm the plates, and the gravy wasn’t thickening.

“Situation normal,” she muttered as the sounds of the kitchen timer, kettle and doorbell all erupted at the same time.

She took the roast potatoes out of the oven and a fresh cloud of hot steam enveloped her.

Of course, it was at that precise moment that Phil, Dan and Janie chose to enter the kitchen together, all freshly washed, dressed and pressed.

She, in contrast, stood with a shiny red face, clad in jeans and an old apron and with hair which had gone frizzy in the heat.

“Hi, Evelyn,” Phil said cheerfully. “Something smells great. Roast beef?”

“It’s – er – just about ready,” Evelyn said. “But I still have to change . . .”

Phil placed a bottle of wine on the table.

“We’ll dish up, if you want to nip upstairs,” he said.

“Come on, Janie, you warm the plates. Dan, find a bottle opener and I’ll thicken the gravy.”

Evelyn bristled.

“What do you mean, ‘thicken the gravy’?”

“I’ve been rescuing your gravy for over quarter of a century, Ev,” Phil replied, his eyes twinkling.

“He’s right, Mum.” Janie’s grin matched her father’s.

“Yeah, gravy’s not your strong point.” Dan didn’t even bother to stifle his chuckle. “Everything else is always great, though.”

Evelyn stared at them all, wondering whether she had the energy to lose her temper. But as they commenced their tasks, happy to be together, her heart suddenly lifted.

There was no malice in what they said – it was true, she’d never been able to make decent gravy.

She smiled weakly. Phil had been right. This could be very nice, the four of them all together for lunch.

“I’ll be right down,” she said and hurried upstairs.

By the time she returned, feeling more presentable, the food was on the table and everyone was sitting in their usual places.

It was just like old times, she thought, glancing round at her family, all chatting, teasing and laughing.

Phil had been right. It did mean a lot to the kids for them all to do this.

She took a sip of wine, poured Phil’s delicious gravy over her food and decided it wouldn’t do any harm if they all simply relaxed and enjoyed the afternoon as a family.

To be continued…

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