The School Gates

Free The School Gates by Nicola May

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Authors: Nicola May
companionship he longed for, but he also realised just how much Chris had helped him with the girls. It was so difficult to keep all the balls juggling, what with his airline shifts, after-school care and generally running the house. Some of the other parents had been great, helping out with school-runs and having the girls round for tea, but working shifts made it difficult to keep a consistency in the twins’ lives and he knew he would have to reconsider his line of work.
    He had to be realistic; face the fact that Chris wasn’t coming back and just get on with it. He had had one quick email to say that his errant partner had arrived in Canada safely – and that was it. Gordon couldn’t believe that after being so very close, Chris could just drop them all like hot potatoes, but maybe that was just his way of coping.
    There was no way he was going to let his precious girls down, Gordon resolved. As hard as it was, he would manage and make sure their lives were full of love and laughter, just as his sister had asked him to do.
    Thankfully, he now had three days off so he could get the house back in order and spend some quality time with his girls.
    ‘Yes, Lily?’ Gordon tried to keep the stress out of his voice.
    ‘I need another cardigan,’ the little girl stated, lifting the arm to show the chocolate milk she’d just put her arm in.
    ‘Oh, Jeez!’ Gordon put his hand to his forehead. ‘I haven’t got the other one clean. Come here, I’ll wipe it with a damp cloth.’
    ‘No!’ the naughty little brunette shouted. ‘It will be all wet then!’
    ‘Stop being so spoilt,’ Lola piped up. ‘Daddy told you he is doing the washing today. You can have another one tomorrow.’
    ‘I miss Daddy Chris,’ Lily screeched, running to her room and throwing herself face down on her bed.
    ‘So do I,’ Gordon whispered under his breath.
    Lola got down off her chair, climbed on his lap and hugged him tightly.
    ‘The rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain – repeat after me.’ Mrs Burrows stood in front of Gordon, banging her walking stick to accentuate the vowels.
    ‘The rain in…’ Gordon faltered. ‘I’m sorry, Mrs Burrows. I can’t do this today.’
    ‘Very well, dear,’ the old lady said hurriedly. She went towards him and took his hand. He clenched his nostrils shut to avoid her coffee breath.
    ‘How about we try talking? It is fine to ask for help sometimes if you need it.’ She spoke very gently.
    Gordon’s bottom lip wobbled.
    ‘What’s the matter, love?’ Mrs Burrows then said kindly, in a much more natural voice.
    Gordon burst into tears. Being held close to a saggy bosom had never felt so good, and for some reason it opened the floodgates of loss.
    ‘I miss Chris, my partner, I miss Jessica, my sister, but most of all I miss my mum!’
    ‘Oh, darling boy. They will all be looking down on you now.’
    ‘It’s only Jess who’s dead,’ wept Gordon. ‘Chris has gone to “find himself”,’ he inputted bitterly, ‘and my mum has Alzheimer’s. She was only fifty when she got it, and what with that and Jess’s premature demise, Dad couldn’t cope. He headed off to Bangkok of all places, took a Thai bride and now I get a Christmas card once a year if I’m lucky.’
    ‘Oh you poor love.’ Mrs Burrows held Gordon’s hand as he continued.
    ‘I see Mum once a month but she never recognises me and the guilt I feel at leaving her in that home causes me such pain, but I know I could never give her the care she needs.’ He stopped and took a deep breath. ‘And now I have those two precious angels to look after and I feel like I’m letting them down.’
    ‘Fiddlesticks are you letting them down! The photos you show me, the way you talk about them – they seem very happy and well-balanced little girls to me.’
    Gordon managed a weak smile. ‘Thank you, Mrs Burrows.’ He blew his nose. ‘As you know, I work shifts as a flight attendant, and when Chris was around we

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