Part one of our new serialised story by Queenie Young
‘Please don’t sulk Jack. Look, it’s a shiny van. Don’t you want to have a ride in it?’ Lucy coaxed.
‘No!’ said Jack and folded his arms resolutely.
‘You can’t sit on the front door step all day, you know, you’ll get cold. Besides,’ she added, ‘It isn’t our house anymore.’
Lucy looked up at the West London terrace. So many memories had been created inside this house, both good ones and bad. She remembered the day when she brought Jack home from the hospital for the first time – a bundle of newness with large, alert eyes taking in the sailboat print curtains she and David had picked out for the nursery. Equally, she remembered the terrible nights not so long ago, which had brimmed with grief and despair…
She mentally shook herself. Today wasn’t a day for looking back, but for looking forward she reminded herself. That’s if they ever got going. She jangled the keys to the hire van and wondered what to do about Jack. The drive would take over three hours and she wanted to avoid the rush hour traffic. The last thing she needed was Jack to decide that now was a great time to demonstrate his strong will. She adored him for it, but on occasions it tested her mettle.
Jack continued to sit on the step, kicking at the weeds that protruded from the gaps in the front path. He’d insisted on wearing his cow print welly boots today “because we’re going to live in the countryside, aren’t we mummy?” But this earlier enthusiasm had evaporated as the moment approached in which he would make that final leap with her and leave their old house, and life behind.
‘It’s a shame,’ sighed Lucy. ‘I was so looking forward to hearing the names you’d picked for our new sheep and chickens. I suppose I will have to do that myself now,’ she continued eyeing Jack, ‘and eat all the eggs that the hens lay.’
Jack’s eyes flashed ‘All of them?’
Lucy nodded forlornly. ‘Yes. If you’re not coming, what else will I do? Omelettes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.’ She knew all too well that omelettes were Jack’s favourite, especially ham and cheese ones. ‘And I’m thinking Terence is a good name for a sheep,’ she continued. Jack frowned and wrinkled his nose.
‘Or maybe Sally.’
‘Not Sally,’ said Jack, shaking his head.
‘Not Sarah either, Mummy. Suzy Sheep.’
Lucy pursed her lips. She knew she was winning him over. ‘OK, Suzy it is then. But how will I know which one is Suzy, without you? Won’t you come with me and help me pick her out?’
Jack hesitated for a moment. He looked over his shoulder at the glossy red front door and brass number 15. Lucy felt her heart constrict. This was such a big moment for both of them and it wasn’t just Jack who was feeling the weight of it. She almost felt like joining him on the front doorstep herself. But the decision to go was the right one – right for Jack and right for her as well.
‘OK, then,’ conceded Jack, getting to his feet and holding out his small hand to her. ‘But can we have omelettes for tea?’
‘Cheese and ham ones?’ asked Lucy. Jack nodded and grinned as they walked along the short path together and climbed into the van.
This was the first of so many challenges to come, Lucy knew it, but for now she was happy to concentrate on the immediate task at hand: get to Wales, pick out Suzy the sheep and, somehow, locate the box containing the frying pan!