فصل 18

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فصل 18

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Chapter eighteen

The sound of laughter

‘So,’ said Ellie, running along beside Timothy in the park. ‘I’ve got a mummy and a daddy now.’

‘It seems strange your daddy being our teacher!’ said Timothy.

‘Mmm,’ said Ellie, ‘but I knew they were right for each other.’

Timothy laughed and ran off and Ellie followed.

Rod and Fanella walked a little way behind them, hand in hand.

‘What’s strange,’ said Rod, looking down at Fanella, ‘is that suddenly I’ve now got a child as well as you. I hadn’t realised how much was missing from my life. Leah didn’t want children, and while we were happy together I was willing to go along with her. But once things started to go wrong, I realised how important it was that I should be a father one day.’

‘Do you mind that I can’t have my own children?’ Fanella asked him, searching his face for an honest reaction.

‘Not at all. Ellie has come ready-made and I couldn’t ask for a nicer daughter. And I knew the situation when I came into it.’

‘But Rod, what would you say if I told you that actually the doctors must have made a mistake? That it must have been Steven who was partly responsible for my being unable to have children? What would you say, I mean, if I told you I was pregnant?’

Rod looked at her.

‘You’re not though, are you?’ he said, barely able to hide the excitement in his voice.

‘I am,’ said Fanella, looking at him shyly.

Rod lifted Fanella up and swung her round. ‘That’s fantastic!’ he said.

‘I haven’t told Ellie, and we’ll have to be careful because she might get very jealous. But if we make it absolutely clear that she’s our first child and extra special because I chose her, I think she’ll cope.’

‘Cope! I think she’ll be the proudest child around. A new mother, a new father and a new brother or sister! It’s the best thing I’ve heard in years!’

Just then Teresa arrived, waving at them as she came across the park. ‘Thanks for having Timothy this morning,’ she said, smiling at the couple. ‘He thinks it a huge honour to be taken out by Fanella and his teacher.’

She smiled at Fanella. ‘You two look the picture of happiness. Is there something I should know?’

Fanella and Rod looked at each other.

‘I could give you a clue,’ said Fanella. ‘But no, I’ll let you guess.’

Teresa gave Fanella a puzzled look. Once she knew Rod and Fanella had finally got together, all her doubts about them as a couple had disappeared. It suddenly seemed so obvious that they were made for each other, and although she still found him attractive herself, Teresa no longer felt the slightest bit jealous. It was so nice seeing Fanella happy and it was good to have Rod as a proper friend. So, now that they seemed to have even more good news, she felt genuinely excited for them.

‘What on earth can it be?’ she asked. Then her heart sank. ‘You’re not moving away somewhere?’ she asked nervously.

She certainly did not want to lose them as friends.

‘No,’ said Fanella, ‘although we may have to move into a bigger house. Two bedrooms won’t be enough for us any more.’

‘You’re… adopting another child?’ said Teresa.

‘No.’

‘You aren’t… you aren’t… Fanella, you’re pregnant!’

Fanella nodded, smiling. ‘Just shows you, doctors can be wrong.’

Teresa opened her arms wide and held her friend. ‘That’s fantastic!’ she said, smiling at both of them. ‘I’m so pleased for you. I wish I could stay to celebrate, but we’re meeting Paulo and we’re already late!’ She called across to Timothy and then turned back to the happy couple. ‘Congratulations, the pair of you!’ she said as Timothy and Ellie ran up together, laughing and out of breath.

Teresa and Timothy said goodbye and walked towards the road. On reaching their parked car, they turned to wave one final goodbye. The little trio waved back: Rod on one side, Fanella on the other and Ellie in the middle. The two adults took hold of Ellie’s hands and swung her high into the air. All Teresa could hear, as she opened the car door for Timothy, was the sound of their laughter as they moved together across the park.

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