Open­ing Day

A new busi­ness takes off in this upbeat com­plete story by An­drea Wother­spoon.

The People's Friend Special - - UPLIFTING STORY -

I’M not go­ing,” Will said, slic­ing a sausage in half. “This is food.” He held out his fork with a fat slice of sausage on it. “What they’re cook­ing isn’t food, it’s a load of non­sense, and I’m not go­ing to pan­der to them.” He put the fork-speared sausage into his mouth and chewed fiercely. Teresa sighed. “Please don’t be so melo­dra­matic. I had hoped that to­day you would at least make an ef­fort for them. It would mean a lot to them if you turned up on their open­ing day. They need your sup­port.’

“My sup­port?” Will cried, his face red­den­ing. “They didn’t need my sup­port when they de­cided to tear up my grand­fa­ther’s dream, his vi­sion, and turn it into some flash in the pan. How would he feel if he could see it now?”

“Proud, I’d hope,” Teresa said. “The shop had been los­ing cus­tom for a while now; they had to do some­thing dif­fer­ent. There are too many su­per­mar­kets around there now, you know that. And this is some­thing Nina be­lieves in. They had to put their own stamp on the place and do what was right for them.”

“It’s my own fault, really,” Will replied. “I should never have signed the place over to them. I know what Nina’s like, and I should have known Ben would never stand up to her.”

“Oh, Will, you don’t mean that, love,” Teresa replied gen­tly. “Ben agreed with her. She didn’t bully him into this.”

Will held up his fork again with an­other lump of sausage on the end.

“Proper butcher’s sausage, this. Su­per­mar­ket meat has noth­ing like the qual­ity we used to pro­duce in the shop. Not even in the same league. There’s a whole com­mu­nity los­ing out now.”

Teresa closed her eyes and shook her head gen­tly.

“There are other butch­ers peo­ple can shop at, if they so de­sire. Things have changed and you need to ac­cept that. It’s Nina and Ben’s dream now, and I’m sure you’ll like what they’ve done with the place.”

“Hrmph,” Will replied, hack­ing at a slice of ba­con.

****

“I love it!” Nina said. She rubbed her hands to­gether and bounced on the balls of her feet. “Doesn’t it look amaz­ing? And that smell of freshly ground cof­fee.” She closed her eyes and in­haled deeply. Ben, arms folded, looked around the café. They had kept the orig­i­nal white tiles on the walls, but had added a small gallery of fam­ily pho­to­graphs taken out­side the build­ing over the years.

“Yep. Got to hand it to you, this was an even bet­ter idea than I thought it would be.” Nina’s smile faded. “Do you think Dad will come?” Ben frowned and leaned against the counter. He wanted to say yes, to keep Nina’s spir­its up, but Will had told him last week that he had no in­ten­tion of ever set­ting foot in the place again.

“I don’t know. Mum might con­vince him, but he’s still not happy, and you know how stub­born he is.” Nina frowned. “He’s had months to get over it! He’s barely spo­ken to me since he found out what we were plan­ning.”

“Me nei­ther,” her brother replied. “He thinks I’ve let him down – butcher’s son turned vege­tar­ian chef. But he’s al­ways known that ca­ter­ing was what I wanted to do!”

“You think you let him down? At least you eat meat! I don’t think he’s ever for­given me for be­ing vege­tar­ian.”

Ben reached over and pat­ted his sis­ter on the arm.

“Don’t let him get to you. Don’t let him ruin to­day. You’ve worked hard for this.’

“We both have. What do you reckon Gran­dad and Great-gran­dad would say to this? Same as Dad?”

“Nah. Great-gran­dad was a shrewd businessman – he’d say we used our ini­tia­tive. We’ve turned a busi­ness that was barely making a profit into some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent that will hope­fully work for us.”

“I hope so,” Nina replied, hug­ging her el­bows. “It’s some­thing new for the area, and the re­sponse so far has been pos­i­tive. I just really hope Dad comes.”

“I hope so, too. He’ll like the touches. All the things you’ve left from the shop.” Nina laughed. “A few of my friends think it’s macabre.” “It’s our her­itage. We can’t turn our back on where we’ve come from and who we are. It’s nice to pre­serve a bit of that, to chart the jour­ney. It em­braces how our fam­ily made their liv­ing and shows it in a new light.”

“I just hope I can re­store the karmic bal­ance some­how,” Nina said solemnly. Ben rolled his eyes. “Hey!” She hit him play­fully on the arm. “I know you think it’s all hokum, but it means a lot to me.”

“I know it does. I re­mem­ber you telling me, when you were about four­teen, that you wanted to turn the shop into a vege­tar­ian shop as pay­back for all the an­i­mals our fam­ily had killed for meat over the years! A vege­tar­ian butcher’s, you said.” Nina laughed. “That was just af­ter I stopped eat­ing meat. Dad couldn’t understand; he was so an­gry.”

“Well, here it is; your dream at fruition. Dad will just need to get used to things.”

“He thinks I cor­rupted you,” Nina said qui­etly.

“Don’t be daft. I knew what I was get­ting into and I could have ob­jected. But the butcher trade was fail­ing, and it couldn’t keep us go­ing. Plus my heart wasn’t in it, and I knew yours wouldn’t be, ei­ther.

“I told Dad I was only a butcher be­cause it was the fam­ily busi­ness. I al­ways in­tended to go back to ca­ter­ing. It was just that once I got stuck in the shop, it was hard to get out again.”

The alarm on Nina’s phone beeped. She looked at Ben and beamed. “It’s time,” she said. Ben nod­ded to­wards the door. “Best open up, then. Look, there are some peo­ple wait­ing out­side al­ready. Let’s do this!”

WILL, please,” Teresa said. “Even if you never set foot in the place again. Just for to­day, for your chil­dren. Es­pe­cially Nina. You’ll re­gret it if you don’t.”

Will kept his eyes on the news­pa­per, pre­tend­ing not to hear.

“She means no harm or dis­re­spect, and she wants you to be proud of what she and

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