Out with the Old | Evelyn Parr

They had a good run.

Out With The Old

Evelyn Parr

Everything Is Everything Award

“The sooner I get rid of her the better I reckon … she’s become a liability.” Frank leaned over the back fence as he watched his mate Bob, planting out vegie seedlings in neat little rows.

“Oh, I dunno mate. She’s been pretty good to you over the years,” argued Bob. “A bloke’s gotta take that into account surely? Look at the way she’s run around for you an’ the kids for all these years. You can’t just go and ditch ‘er now just because she’s gettin’ on a bit.”

Frank shook his head and said nothing. He knew what Bob meant, but the fact of the matter was, the old girl was pretty worn out, and now that the kids had grown up and left home, he didn’t really need her. Besides, the older she got, the harder she was to handle, and she was way too big.

Shirl opened the back door to let the cat out when she caught the last part of their conversation. She hadn’t been well for a while, and she was carrying a bit more weight than usual, but hadn’t realised Frank was this upset about it. She hurried back inside, dismayed to find she was trembling. Tears welled up and she brushed them away angrily.

“I’ll show him,” she muttered.

“Anyway mate,” Frank continued, “if we make any more trips to the specialist, we’ll ’ave shares in the place. A man’s gotta draw the line somewhere. The old girl’s gotta go, and that’s that! Are you gonna come and help me organise it, or not?”

Bob shielded his face from the sun as he looked up at his mate.

“Okay, okay, keep your shirt on! Of course I’ll come with ya, that’s what mates are for, isn’t it?  I’ll be round at your place in about half an hour.”

Frank went inside and washed his hands. Shirl pretended that she was reading her book. He came over and gave her a quick squeeze.

“Me an’ Bob are going to the pub for a few quick ones. We might be an hour or two, okay?”

“Fine,” she answered gruffly without looking up.

Bob knocked on the door and the two of them went off, laughing and chatting as if nothing was wrong. Frank hadn’t even noticed that Shirl wasn’t speaking to him. She was so upset, she decided to pack her things and go and stay with one of their daughters for a while.

“I’m not staying in a house where I’m not wanted,” she told her fluffy cat as it washed itself lazily on the bed. It paused for a moment, and then resumed its task without a flicker of interest in her tragic plight. She finished the packing and fed the animals before locking up the house. Shirl knew only too well how long ‘an hour or two’ was when those two got together. The pets could starve long before the men realised she wasn’t there to feed them.

Slowly she made her way towards the bus stop. Her suitcase was awfully heavy. Perhaps Frank was right … she was getting past it. Her lip quivered as she recalled what she’d heard that morning.

She’d just begun to check the timetable when a shiny little car pulled up on the other side of the road. Shirl didn’t take much notice until a familiar voice shouted,

“Hey old girl, wanna go for a spin?”   It was Frank.

“Why on earth are you driving that?” she asked angrily. “Whose is it?”

“I bought it for us … traded in the old one…” Frank’s eyes widened as he took in the scene before him.

“What on earth are you doing at the bus stop with your suitcase, woman?” he roared.

“What do you mean, you bought it for us?”

“Exactly that,” said Frank. “The old station-wagon was too big and heavy for the two of us. I know it was a good car and served the family well and all that, but she was costing us a fortune in repairs and whatnot. This little thing is heaps big enough for us, and it runs on the smell of an oily rag.”

He eyed Shirl and the suitcase. “Now where exactly did you say you were off to?”

Her face flushed as she studied her feet.

“I heard you and Bob talking this morning, and I thought you were planning to get rid of me,” she admitted ruefully.

Frank roared with laughter.

“You silly duffer. What would I want to get rid of you for? Who’d cook the dinner and do me washing?” He laughed again as he saw her look of dismay.

“I’m just kidding love.” He hopped out of the car, opened the passenger door patting the seat as he grinned at her.

“Hop in and we’ll go for a run.”

Shirley smiled back at him as she nestled into the comfy upholstery.

“You gave me such a fright. I think you can take me out for dinner tonight!”

“That’s just what I was thinkin’ meself,” Frank replied with a shifty grin and a wink as they headed off down the road.