Din­ner For Two

Lynn’s twins have flown the nest

My Weekly - - Contents - By Karen King

Lynn stepped into the empty house and glanced at the clock. Four o’clock; an­other two hours un­til Ant fin­ished his shift. Her work as sec­re­tary at the lo­cal school had kept her oc­cu­pied but it had seemed such a long week since Maisie and Jack had left for univer­sity on Sun­day.

This evening was when she would miss the twins most. They all dipped in and out of the house in the week with barely time to say hello, but Fri­day evenings were wind-down time, when they sat around the ta­ble to­gether, nois­ily shar­ing their news as they tucked into their meal. Fri­day evenings were spe­cial.

Un­til now. Now it was back to din­ner for two.

How would they fill the week­ends and evenings with­out the twins, and their friends, pop­ping in and out? This was the time when mar­riages fell apart, wasn’t it? When cou­ples re­alised that their chil­dren were the glue that had held them to­gether over the years and now the chil­dren had gone they had noth­ing in com­mon. Would that hap­pen to her and Ant?

Lynn didn’t even know what to do for din­ner. Fri­day nights were usu­ally a take­away – fish and chips, pizza or a Chi­nese. A take­away for two didn’t seem as much fun as a take­away for four.

Per­haps she could cook? When they were first mar­ried, she and Ant used to take it in turns to cook a spe­cial meal on Fri­day evenings. They’d open a bot­tle of wine and talk about their week, share anec­dotes, of­ten sit­ting up un­til late, the one bot­tle of wine turn­ing into two as they talked and laughed, mak­ing up for the week of hur­ried hel­los and good­byes and tum­bling into bed too ex­hausted to do any­thing but fall asleep.

Then the twins had come along and there was lit­tle time for cook­ing, so they’d started hav­ing a take­away. It was a tra­di­tion that had con­tin­ued right up to the present.

She wan­dered up­stairs and opened the door of Jack’s room. Most of his things were still there. It was as if he’d just gone to his friend’s. It was the same in Maisie’s room.

She sat down on the edge of Maisie’s bed, re­mem­ber­ing how the twins had shared a room for the first few years, snug­gling up in bed to­gether while she’d read them a story. Even in their teenage years she’d find them in each other’s rooms, laugh­ing, chat­ting, lis­ten­ing to mu­sic to­gether.

The twins were so close – and still would be; they were at­tend­ing the same univer­sity and both study­ing for a teach­ing de­gree, Maisie in per­form­ing arts and Jack in maths and sci­ence. They’d prob­a­bly meet up, go on nights out to­gether. Whereas she would hardly see them at all.

She fought back the tears that filled her eyes so read­ily just lately and stood up. She had to pull her­self to­gether. It wasn’t as if she’d never see the twins again. They’d come home for vis­its, ea­ger to tell their news. Wouldn’t they?

She wan­dered into her and Ant’s bed­room, took the fam­ily photo al­bum out of the bot­tom drawer and sat on the king-size bed to flick through it, start­ing at the back. The most re­cent pho­tos. Maisie and Jack at their prom, first day at sec­ondary school, pri­mary school, nurs­ery… min­utes af­ter they were born in hos­pi­tal. Years of mem­o­ries.

She flicked back fur­ther; a much younger her and Ant on hol­i­day in Rome when they’d back­packed around Europe, on a spon­ta­neous day out at the sea­side, bowl­ing, hav­ing a ro­man­tic meal.

She paused. They looked so young, and so happy. Where had the years gone? Tears pricked her eyes again as she turned back to an­other page.

Their wed­ding day. They’d been so in love, so full of plans, plans that had come to a halt when the much-loved but un­planned twins came along and sud­denly they were a fam­ily in­stead of a care­free cou­ple.

They still had plenty of years left, years to do things as a cou­ple again, go on hol­i­days. The sort of hol­i­days they used to take – ex­plor­ing, trav­el­ling on pub­lic trans­port, im­mers­ing them­selves in the cul­ture rather than the allinclu­sive-by-the-sea hol­i­days they took with Maisie and Jack, to en­sure that the chil­dren al­ways had some­thing to do.

She closed the al­bum and put it back in the drawer. Maisie and Jack were fine; they were start­ing a new life, and that’s what she and Ant should do.

This was their time now. Time to be a cou­ple again, to en­joy each other’s com­pany, to go on week­ends away, to have spe­cial din­ners for two.

Sud­denly she knew what she was go­ing to cook. Steak in Stil­ton sauce – the first meal they had out to­gether, and one that used to be their favourite.

She grabbed the car keys and her hand­bag and set off for the shops. She bought a bot­tle of wine too, and a tiramisu – their favourite – for dessert.

She’d just got home when her phone pinged to an­nounce a mes­sage.

Work­ing late. Sorry. Carry on and eat with­out me. Ant xx

Dis­ap­point­ment bit into her. Blink­ing back the tears she sat down de­ject­edly at the ta­ble. Why did Ant have to work late tonight of all nights? He knew how she felt about the twins go­ing away.

Per­haps he didn’t want to come home to an empty house ei­ther. Per­haps, like her, he was wor­ried they wouldn’t have any­thing to say to each other. Per­haps he was tired of her mop­ing around – he’d tried to so hard to cheer her up this week.

Life had changed for­ever and she felt be­reaved, lost, empty. What would they do all week­end? Ant of­ten worked Satur­day morn­ing and in the af­ter­noon she usu­ally went shop­ping with Maisie while Ant did some gar­den­ing, cleaned his car, pot­tered around. Then the twins would get ready to go out and she and Ant would sit and watch a film, shar­ing a glass of wine and en­joy­ing the rare peace.

Sun­day was al­ways a fam­ily day. The twins didn’t get up un­til late and one or both of them would be hang­ing around; prob­a­bly their friends would drop in.

Pull your­self to­gether, she told her­self sharply. It’ s not Ant’ s fault if he has to work late. You’ re go­ing to have to get some new hob­bies. Find some­thing to fill the time. Think of all the things you’ ve wanted to do over the years.

She grabbed a note­book and pen and scrib­bled down the things she’d wanted to do when she was younger, be­fore the twins came along; travel, learn an­other lan­guage, take up ball­room danc­ing. She’d make a start to­mor­row, find out about lo­cal classes.

Eight o’clock and still no sign of Ant. Was he avoid­ing com­ing home, tired of her wal­low­ing in self-pity? The phone pinged again. On my way. Have you eaten or shall I bring some­thing?

She mes­saged back. I’m cook­ing some­thing. See you in a bit.

Then she turned on the oven and started to pre­pare the meal.

When Ant walked in half an hour later Lynne was hum­ming along to a ’70s CD – the twins al­ways groaned if she played it when they were around – the ta­ble was laid for two, the wine breath­ing be­side the hob and the meal cook­ing.

She saw the relief in his eyes. He’d been ex­pect­ing to find her cry­ing again.

“You look cheer­ful,” he said, kiss­ing her on the cheek.

She smiled up at him. “Yep, I’ve de­cided to stop mop­ing and use the op­por­tu­nity of hav­ing more free time to do some of the things I’ve al­ways wanted to do.” She picked up the list. “Fancy learn­ing ball­room danc­ing?” He scanned the list and smiled. “Nope, but you can mark two of those things off the list right away.” She stared at him. “Trav­el­ling and learn­ing an­other lan­guage. I’ve been work­ing late so I didn’t have to work to­mor­row. I’ve booked us a week­end in Rome, leav­ing first thing in the morn­ing. We’ve al­ways said we’d go back.” He pulled a small book out of his bag. “So how about we brush up on our Ital­ian this evening?” “Re­ally?” Her eyes sparkled. He drew her closer. “I miss the twins too, Lynn, but I’ve missed us hav­ing time for each other too. Now we can go have a few week­ends away. City breaks aren’t that ex­pen­sive.” “I’d like that,” she said softly. Sud­denly her phone pinged. Maisie. She slid open the text. Hav­ing a fab time but com­ing home next week­end. Need a de­cent meal! She grinned and showed Ant. “Maybe not every week­end…”

“You can mark TWO OF THOSE THINGS off THE LIST straight away…”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.