The letterbox clanks as the postman puts the letters through. There is a heavy thud a few minutes later as the paper boy follows suit. Anthony groans a little as he gets up from his seat in the kitchen and he plods down the hallway to collect the post and the paper. He groans as he bends over. He feels every one of his fifty plus years and the weight on his bones has been getting heavier and heavier lately. He pats his stomach as he walks back to the kitchen and realises that maybe it’s time to get back in to his walking habits. It might help him feel less sore all of the time. He takes a seat at the table again and flips the local newspaper to show the back page. There in big bold letters is the head line:
SKELMERAGE PLAYER SOLD TO MANCHESTER UNITED
The picture below is of Scooby, smiling broadly, shaking hands with the Manchester United manager and holding up his new contract. Anthony smiles widely, proud of his son’s friend. The team at Manchester United had been truly impressed with Scooby’s performance at the match against Skelmerage and they’d passed on their thoughts to the team’s management. The management had agreed and as soon as the transfer window had opened they’d made an offer to Skelmerage for Scooby. Anthony hadn’t been surprised, Scooby is an exceptionally gifted player and the offer from Manchester United had been too good for Skelmerage to refuse.
Scooby had been all too happy to accept it, even though he was sad to leave his home team behind. The money was going to a good cause too, helping the football club to build a new grandstand. It would be able to hold all of the new fans that had begun to attend games since Skelmerage FC had played Manchester United.
Anthony flips the paper over and he stares at the front page. The headline there is amazing too.
SKELMERAGE BOY IN TOP MOVIE
It’s all about Toby and the movie. Anthony smiles as he reads through the article. His son has actually done it, he’s the lead actor in England’s Finest and he’s going to be a star. The film has only recently secured world wide release, Toby had called to tell him the night before. Toby is going to Hollywood, along with Fiona and the other cast members.
Anthony’s smile widens. He’s never felt so proud of his son. Even though it isn’t what Anthony had had planned for Toby his son has gone and done what makes him happy and achieved his dream. Anthony sits and stares at the article and thinks about what his own dad said to him, back at the hospital so many months before. Maybe it’s a good thing that Toby struck out on his own. He has his own dreams and shouldn’t be living Anthony’s any more. But maybe there’s still time for Anthony to go for his own dream again. Rebecca clomps in to the room, humming to herself.
“Becca,” Anthony says, turning to look at her. “What do you think about your dad becoming a footballer?”
“I think…” Rebecca says slowly, “That it was be a great idea. Go for it Dad! I can’t wait to be there, at all your games, cheering you on.”
“Good,” he says. “Good.”
He reaches for the phone, post ignored for the time being. He calls the Football Association. He wants to do this now, while his mind is still working on the idea and while he’s still full of excitement. Within minutes he’s got the number of a local team in the over fifty’s league. He plans to call them in a few minutes. He was going to call them sooner but as he wrote down the number his hand had nudged the pile of letters awaiting his attention. His eye had been caught by a golden envelope, glittering in the morning sun. He puts the phone down and picks it up.
Inside is a fancy invite, beautifully hand written and covered in gold leaf. It’s an invite to the premiere of Toby’s film. England’s Finest is plastered at the top of the letter and when Anthony holds the invite just so he can see his son’s face on the paper as a watermark. Then something else catches his eye, the names on the invite. ‘Anthony and Maria’. It’s for both of them. He swallows heavily and his heart sinks a little.
“Oh wow,” Rebecca says, reading over his shoulder, “Mum’s your date? Cool.”
“She’ll never go with me!” Anthony cries, looking at his daughter, “She hates me and would probably rather go alone.”
“She doesn’t hate you,” Rebecca says, “Besides, you’ll never know until you ask her.”
Anthony starts to panic. Then the phone rings, momentarily distracting him. The panic returns though when he sees Maria’s name on the display.
“It’s your mum!” he whispers to Rebecca, holding the phone away from him like it’s a live grenade. “What do I do?!”
Rebecca smiles and takes her dad’s hand, squeezing it tightly. She presses the answer button on the phone and guides it up to Anthony’s ear.
“Hello,” he says quickly.
“Anthony, hi,” Maria says, sounding remarkably sober, “You got your invite then?”
“Yeah,” Anthony say, “Yeah, I did.”
“So when are you picking me up so we can go shopping for a dress? I want to make sure I look good on your arm.”
Anthony blinks. Maria is being nice to him, friendly. She’s almost flirting with him. Is it possible that she wants him back? He has always loved her, even when she’s been at her worst. Both Toby and Rebecca have been telling him recently that her drinking has dropped loads and she’s even getting counselling. Maybe she’s finally ready to put the past behind her and start a new part of her life.
“Anthony?” Maria asks, “Are you there? Can you hear me?”
“Sorry, sorry,” Anthony says, “I got distracted by the shiny invite. I’ll see you in a couple of hours?”
“Yeah,” Maria says softly. “That will be perfect babes, that will be perfect.”
They both hang up at the same time. Anthony sits there for a few moments, completely shocked. Rebecca laughs and hugs her dad tightly. She leaves the kitchen, watching as a smile starts to spread across Anthony’s face. Maybe her mum’s coming back home at last.