For your story
‘There.’ Catherine stuck the last strand of wool on the Guy’s pillowcase head, then stood back to admire her work. ‘Just a shame I had to do it by myself this year.’ Making a Guy for the village fireworks display was a family tradition. Even when Andrew had left her five years ago, she’d carried it on to give the kids continuity. ‘Not kids any more though, are they?’ she said to herself. Now 14, the twins had other things to do on a Friday night. Danny was on his computer and Millie was with her best friend. Reluctant to give up the tradition entirely, Catherine had made the Guy on her own. Her mobile phone buzzed.
‘What are you up to tonight?’ Melanie’s voice boomed down the line. Catherine didn’t know how she’d have got through the last five years without her best friend. Before she could answer, Melanie continued, ‘You’re making a Guy, aren’t you?’ ‘Yes,’ Catherine confessed.
‘Cathy, listen,’ Melanie sounded concerned. ‘Don’t you think it’s time you gave that up? The twins are growing up and, well, you need to have fun. Dare I say, even meet someone new?’
Catherine shook her head, even though Melanie couldn’t see, before replying, ‘Remember the internet dating disaster?’
‘You only had one date! Besides, it wasn’t that bad. I just want to see you happy again.’
After her conversation with Melanie, it was still early. There was little point cooking for one, though, so Catherine ate a bowl of cereal then settled on the sofa, ready for another night alone.
‘Not to worry,’ she said to herself, trying to keep cheery. ‘At least we’ll spend tomorrow evening together.’ The kids might be growing up, but they always loved Bonfire Night.
A firework burst into the air and the crowd oohed and aahed. Catherine felt a nudge on her arm and saw Danny and Millie clutching hot chocolates and burgers. ‘Thanks, you two,’ she said, taking the offering.
‘Mum,’ Millie asked, ‘Lara said I can sleep over at hers tonight. Is that okay?’
‘Erm, sure sweetheart. I’ll drop you round after the fireworks.’ ‘She’s leaving now, so I’ll get a lift with her mum.’
‘Oh, right.’ Catherine tried to hide her disappointment. She didn’t want to stop her children enjoying themselves, so she kissed her daughter goodbye.
No sooner had Millie gone than Danny piped up, ‘Mum, can I stay round Jack’s tonight?’
Another night alone. She couldn’t say no when she’d allowed Millie. ‘Sure, darling.’
‘Cheers, Mum.’ He didn’t even stay for a goodbye hug.
‘Well,’ she said to the Guy. ‘Just you and me now. But I suppose it’s time to get you on the fire.’
He stared through her with his black button eyes, seemingly unperturbed he was about to become ash.
She took the Guy to the fire and waited at the barrier for one of the helpers. ‘Shall I take that little chap from you, madam?’ A handsome man not much older than her grinned.
‘Yes, please.’ Looking around at the children handing over their Guys, she felt as though she should offer an explanation. ‘My teenagers have better things to do tonight, so I’m left holding the Guy.’
‘I know how you feel.’ He took the model from her. ‘My son’s just gone to university. I still help out here, though, like I have every year since he was little. I guess it’s tradition now.’
She gave him an empathetic smile before he walked away to throw her Guy on to the fire.
Catherine clapped with the crowd as the final firework exploded. She was about to walk home when someone tapped her on the shoulder – it was the man who’d taken her Guy.
‘Hello again. I was looking for you. No one should spend Bonfire Night alone. I’m Tom, by the way.’
He had a gorgeous smile. She introduced herself and shook his hand.
‘I hear they do mulled wine here,’ he said. ‘Care to join me?’ ‘Oh, erm…’ Her reflex reaction was to decline, but Tom was already halfway to the drinks stall.
Five minutes later he returned empty-handed. ‘Sorry, all gone,’ he said.
She surprised herself at how disappointed she was that the excuse to stay and talk had seemingly disappeared.
‘I’m sure the village pub hasn’t run out of wine, though. Would you like to come for a drink with me?’
He flashed that gorgeous grin again. She thought back to Melanie’s words and found herself nodding. Her friend had been wrong about one thing, though – if she hadn’t made the Guy, she’d never have met Tom. Maybe some traditions should never die.