Friends
Let's Talk|December 2020
Readers of our short stories don’t have to have long memories to recall work by Anne Maxwell, who had a previous short story entry published in the summer.
Anne Maxwell

“YOU JUST CAN’T. It’s too much for you. I wouldn’t want to take it on and I’m half your age, Dad. Please think about it.” Joe slowly lifted his gaze and looked at his son with what he hoped was a face that gave nothing away.

“Okay. I’ll think about it but I’m not making any promises. I’ve lived in this house for nearly 50 years and I’m not like you youngsters who move every two years when you change your job!” Alan chuckled.

“Thanks Dad. It’s a long time since anyone called me a youngster. I’ll be looking at retirement myself soon. And when I do, I can tell you that I’ll be looking at taking things a bit easier, not trying to prove that I’m not getting older.”

“I am not trying to prove anything!” retorted Joe with more than a suggestion of annoyance in his voice. Joe mused over the conversation with his eldest child – approaching retirement or not, he was still Joe’s child and Joe began to wonder at what point in the relationship with your offspring do they decide that they know better than you. Was there really a point at which they silently (or not) became the more authoritative voice in any discussion between the two of you?

The Maples had been the only house that Joe and his wife Anna had ever owned. They bought it when they married and it was originally a three-bedroomed house with an unusually large garden.

It had been perfect for the newly-weds with plans to have two children. When their dream came true and then continued coming true with a total of four children, Joe extended the house to accommodate them all. They ended up with a large, six-bedroomed house, which had served them well but now, Joe was slightly concerned to note, was in need of some attention.

Having been a builder all his working life, Joe had kept up with all aspects of house maintenance and his late wife Anna had been proud of his ability to save them a small fortune because they rarely needed the services of tradespeople. But Anna had been gone for two years now and there wasn’t a day went by that Joe didn’t think of her and miss her. Theirs had been a very happy marriage and Joe was reluctant to accede to his children’s suggestion that he should sell up and find somewhere ‘more manageable’.

However comfortable any new place would be, it would have no memories for him so it would be, therefore, soulless.

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