Extract from Chapter Two

David sighed. Last weekend Helen had taken a phone call from a staff member who had spent the night in hospital miscarrying a first baby. The lady needed comfort. Time off had to be arranged for her and then a supply teacher for the class organised. There followed more phone calls from other staff members asking how the woman was. Sunday had been taken up with all of it. Helen was only trying to help people, but it had been another opportunity for an argument to erupt about her retiring.
‘And who would do all this if I went?’ she had said angrily.

‘Someone would do it. There are others, younger and fitter than you who would do it very well.’

‘So you think I’m too old for the job?’

‘I didn’t mean it to sound like that,’ David said, ‘what I meant to say is that I care about you, about us. We’re not getting any younger and I want us to have some time together. I’m tempted to buy a motor home and bugger off without you.’

Helen had smiled a little at the prospect, but David wasn’t smiling.

‘I don’t want to lose any pension for the sake of going early,’ she said, ‘you know that.’

‘And the more you gain in pension, the more we lose in time,’ he answered, turning away. ‘When I agreed to sell the business, you agreed to think about giving your notice.’

‘Oh come on David, that’s not exactly fair,’ she retorted. ‘Neither of us knew it would sell so quickly.’

‘That was a year and a half ago. You know you could have retired last year when you were fifty-five, and been grateful for the right to do so.’

Helen seemed sympathetic to David’s logic but was struggling to understand her own feelings about letting go.

‘Well, you can’t have the years back,’ he said eventually. ‘We had so many plans. Now, all you can think about is work.’