The Inklings: Chapter 97

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

John was feeling pretty tired by the time Fanta and her sisters were up but he made toast, tea and hot chocolates for breakfast anyway, and tried to be cheerful as he did it.

“What’s wrong?” said Fanta as soon as she saw John. “You look so tired”

“I couldn’t sleep so I went for an early morning run” said John. “It was fun at the time, but now I just want to go to sleep”

“Too bad your family is coming for lunch then. What are you going to cook?” said Fanta.

John looked at Fanta blankly for a second before he remembered that he’d organized to have lunch with Emily and Tim that day and he hadn’t even thought about what they were going to eat.

“I don’t know” was all John could say.

“Doesn’t matter, as long as you make some of your lovely bread” said Fanta.

“Yes! Good idea!” said John and he quickly looked in the cupboard to see if there was any flour and while he was doing that the toast burnt.

It was fortunate that Fanta, Ruby and Nancy were in good moods and just laughed at the smoke that was coming out of the toaster because it helped John control his anxiety. John managed to finish making breakfast and they all had a nice conversation as they ate it. After Fanta and her sisters left John made bread dough then investigated what was in the fridge and pantry as he tried to work out what to make for lunch.

By the time John had made pumpkin soup and bread for lunch, a cake for dessert and had washed the dishes it was almost lunchtime.John was glad that he’d kept busy all morning because it stopped him from worrying about what he and his brother and sister would talk about.

When everything was ready John waited out the front for Emily and Tim to arrive and he actually felt quite happy when he saw Emily’s car park out the front. John even stayed happy when he saw Tim get out of the car and he realised that he was hoping that he and his brother and sister could be close again.

During lunch John could tell that Tim and Emily approved of where he was living and of the food he’d made for them.

“When will we get to meet Fanta?” asked Emily.

John had no answer to that question and tried to change the topic but Emily insisted that Fanta and John come to visit her soon.

“That won’t work” said John and he explained that his only day off was Monday and Fanta had to work on Mondays.

“Surely you can get someone else to look after the restaurant one Saturday or Sunday! You work that out and let me know a date that suits – soon!” said Emily.

John pretended to agree but wasn’t intending to do as Emily had suggested.

John thought Tim was being a bit quiet.

“Are you ok?” John asked Tim.

Tim smiled, remembering how John had always been able to read his mind when they were kids.

“Maybe Emily already told you that while I was here at Christmas my business lost a lot of money and I had to sell it? For a while I told myself that I didn’t care and tried to enjoy being here, pretending I was just on a long holiday, but really I’ve lost my direction. I enojoyed running my factory so much that I can’t find anything else interesting. I have no idea what I should be doing with myself”.

Emily hadn’t told John about Tim losing his business. John’s first feeling at hearing this news was relief that Tim was capable of failure too, but John also felt sorry for Tim. “What does Dad think?” said John, and as he asked the question John felt guilty because he realised he hadn’t spoken to his father since Christmas. John had hated Christmas Day. He’d felt so left-out at the family Christmas and ever since he’d been trying to forget that it happened.

“Dad wants me to take over one of his restaurants. He says it is only fair – because he gave you a restaurant for Christmas. I guess that’s what I should do, at least while I work out what else I should be doing, but if I’m honest I’m a bit scared that if I can lose one business I can lose another” said Tim.

John looked hard at Tim and wondered if it was possible that he really believed what he was saying. John had always thought that he was the only one in the family who thought like that.

“I’m capable of losing anything but I haven’t lost Dad’s restaurant… not yet anyway. You will be fine!” said John.

Tim seemed a little bit more cheerful but John could tell he wasn’t convinced. John was a little bit worried at the idea of Tim also having a restaurant because it could become a competition to see who ran their restaurant best and John didn’t want that kind of stress. John knew his Dad had accumulated a few restaurants but didn’t know how many or what they were. He wanted to ask about the restaurant Tim was going to be given but he didn’t want to risk sounding jealous. Then John had a great idea.

“Why don’t you have a go running my restaurant this weekend while I go to dinner at Emily’s? Then you won’t be so scared when Dad gives you your own restaurant” said John.

Emily had been thinking of inviting Tim to dinner at the same time but was happy to accept this arrangement if it meant she got to meet Fanta sooner and so it was arranged that during the week John would teach Tim all about the restaurant and then on the weekend Tim would run it on his own while John had some time off.

As soon as Emily and Tim left John realised how exhausted he was. He sat down in a comfy chair and desperately wanted to have a sleep but knew there was a terrible mess that he should clean up before Fanta and her sisters got home. So John struggled out of the chair and to wake himself up he did a silly dance where he shook his arms and legs.

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