She recalled what he’d said to her at the pub on the first night of their separation – something about looking for a landlady who’d offer extras. The prospect of that, or of such proximity to Janice, gave rise in Charlotte’s breast to acute heartburn.
Gloria saw her mum’s reaction.
‘Well I’m glad, Mum. I’m fed up of playing piggy-in-the-middle between you, constantly being expected to pass the latest morsel of gossip about each of you to the other. You’re going to have to start talking to each other, aren’t you?’
Thursday -Week Five
The thirty people who had booked to go on the coach stood chatting in small groups on the large car park that served the shopping centre and the Library. Charlotte noticed that Frank had brought Janice in his car. They stood together with a couple who’d sat next to them at the dance class last week. Charlotte stood with a couple of ladies that she’d got to know the same way.
When the coach arrived, all eyes turned to it, watching it navigate the one-way system to the front of the Library. The seats at the rear of the coach were the ones that were filled earliest. Charlotte sat in the centre so that she wouldn’t be sitting over the wheels. Frank and Janice sat a bit further forward on the other side of the centre aisle. When he was putting their backpacks up in the compartment above their seats, he turned and waved to Charlotte. She didn’t wave back but smiled in return. All the way to Llandudno she could see the tops of their heads over the backs of their seats, close together, talking and laughing all the way. Occasionally he’d lean across Janice to point something out. It reminded her of times that she’d been the one sat with him. She wanted to tap him on the shoulder and tell him that he should be with her instead, but knew that she’d look stupid.
At that time of year, traffic on the A55 was heavy, so the sixty odd miles took them almost two hours. Even before the coach came to a halt, passengers were standing in the aisle to retrieve their goods from above. Before they left the coach, the leader asked the driver to open the doors. She took his microphone to give instructions to everyone about the meal, the afternoon tea dance and the time that the coach would be leaving.
Even though Charlotte enjoyed the meal, the dance was torture for her. Frank and Janice seemed to be determined to hold each other much more closely than was called for. When doing the rhumba they couldn’t seem to take their eyes off each other. Charlotte couldn’t wait to be home again.
After the tea dance, people were free to have a look around the resort town. Charlotte watched from the hotel lounge window as Frank and Janice walked arm-in-arm from the hotel and along the promenade.
Closing her front door when she arrived home, she kicked off her shoes and sat on the stairs sniffling back tears and feeling really sorry for herself. Eventually, she stood, removed her coat and hung it up before walking to the kitchen to make herself a drink. She decided to bite the bullet and, with her excuse at the ready, phoned Gloria.
‘Hello love, is your dad back yet?’ Gloria said that he was – he’d been back almost an hour. ‘Is he alone,’ was Charlotte’s next question, ‘He didn’t bring Janice back with him did he?’
Gloria burst out laughing.
‘Mum,’ she said, ‘You sound like a jealous teenager. Of course he didn’t.’
Charlotte asked to speak to Frank and asked if he’d mind popping round sometime in the next few days to cut the grass. He promised that he’d come on Saturday. He’d already arranged to spend Friday going through his things and deciding what he’d need to take with him when he moved in to his new home in a couple of weeks, and to do some shopping.
Before we leave Widnes, it seems only right to feature a shot of the Mersey Gateway bridge that now takes most of the traffic that would previously crossed the river using the Silver Jubilee bridge.
Once again, I used my Pentax KP 24 MP cropped sensor camera, paired with my Pentax 35 mm f/2 full-frame lens. The Exif data were 1/640 secs at f/8. The ISO was 200.