Geoffrey is proud of the home he and his late wife, Isabella, created, for themselves and their daughter, Anita. In the ten months since Isabella’s death he’s kept the three promises he made her: he’s kept a close eye on Anita, eaten three meals a day and kept himself ‘respectable’.
Anita, their thirty-five year old daughter, has taken it upon herself to care for her aged father despite his objections to being ‘managed’. Her defence is that she promised her mother to keep an eye on him ‘for his own good’. His objections to this interference in his life are met with a stern, ‘Would you have me break my word to mum?’ Unfortunately, he knows this brooks no contradiction.
Before going to the pub for his weekly game of cribbage, Geoffrey opens his wardrobe to get out his brown corduroy jacket. It’s much older than Anita, but it’s his favourite attire for the pub. It’s not there. He searches the house. There’s no sign of it.
Anita and Geoffrey always have a cuppa on a Wednesday, after she’s hoovered and tidied up. Have you seen my old corduroy jacket, love, I can’t find it? he asks as he pours their tea.
We can’t have you going about looking like an old tramp, can we?
I took it to the Cancer UK shop.
You did what?
You’ve other jackets, dad.
He loves Anita; arguments are always to be avoided.
On Thursday morning, he’s in the charity shop. He laughs at himself as he buys his old jacket for a fiver.
Looking in the kitchen store cupboard, he sees the cupboard, is tidier, but emptier, than normal.
Geoffrey calls Anita on her mobile phone, Have you been emptying the store cupboard?
There were so many ‘best befores’ to get rid of.
‘Best befores’ are not ‘use bys’, Geoffrey objects. There’s a difference.
When are you going to make cakes, dad?
There you are, Anita says, stifling a sob. They were mum’s. You don’t need cherries and mixed peel. Anita ends the call.
After a Wednesday cuppa, taken, as usual, in the kitchen, but unusually in silence, Geoffrey says, We need to talk, love. What’s wrong?
Anita puts her head in her hands and sighs deeply. Oh, dad. I miss her. I know you do too. Mum was my best friend. Me a singleton for ever, so there’s just you and me …. You don’t need me, dad.
Of course I do ….
I don’t think so.
Are you lonely? Geoffrey asks.
What about that new boyfriend?
I’m sorry. Geoffrey hesitates. Uncertainly he asks, Do you want to move back in? As long as you don’t manage me, Anita.
Mum did that, but she was just too clever for you to notice.
Not like you, then? Geoffrey laughs.
I should never have thrown out that jacket.
Geoffrey returns wearing his corduroy jacket.
You tatty old tramp, Anita laughs. How did you do that?
I hope you enjoyed this story. Remember, I publish a new story every Sunday.
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© Phil Cosker 2022
Phil Cosker has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved; no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any mean, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.