Let It Go!

Illustration: Getty Images, Mandy Dixon

A Quick Twist In The Tale just for you…

How ironic that Alice was obsessed with those very words…

Author Paula Williams

“Let it go-ooooooooo.”

Jane closed her eyes as her granddaughter’s voice rose to a quavering crescendo, wobbled for a moment, before gearing up for one final slightly out of tune blast.

“Let. It. Go.”

“Sorry, Mum.” Mark grinned across at her. “Drives you nuts, doesn’t it?”

“Of course not. It’s a lovely song. And she sings it with such –” she scrabbled frantically for the right word, aware that behind her, in the back of the car, Alice was listening intently. “Such… enthusiasm.”

But enthusiasm was so not the right word. Because it encouraged Alice to start again. From the beginning. And it was a long song. A very, very long song.

“Let it gooo-ooooooo. Let. It. Go.”

“You wouldn’t think it’s a lovely song if you’d heard it as many times as I have,” Mark said wearily. “Alice. That’s enough now. No more singing.”

“But Daddy, Granny says she likes it. And that I sing with enth- enthy- that I sing nicely. That’s what you meant, didn’t you, Granny? And anyway it’s my very, very favourite song for all times. And I’ve learnt all the words.”

“Indeed you have,” Mark said wearily, as he released the handbrake and eased the car forward in the slow moving traffic. “It’s a pity you didn’t put the same effort into learning the words for your spelling test last week.”

“You did like my song, Granny?” Alice asked in a small, subdued voice.

Of course I did, sweetheart.” Jane turned in her seat, anxious to reassure.

“Sorry we’re cutting it so fine, Mum,” Mark said. “That’s the problem with working from home. It can be the devil’s own job getting away sometimes. But I had to take that call. Even on a Saturday.”

“I know you did, love. Don’t worry.”

“And of course, the other downside to working from home is the school run.” Mark laughed. “I didn’t used to mind doing it but with that song banging in my ear all the time, it’s all getting a bit –”

Jane smothered a grin as Alice launched once again into the song. As Mark said, it was indeed a very long song.

“Alice. Please. Can’t you sing something else?”

“But Daddy, I don’t know anything else. All the other songs I used to know flew out of my head when I learned this one. And Granny said she likes it.”

But Granny doesn’t mean it, Mark thought. In fact, he noticed his mother looked really tense.

Yet that wasn’t all down to Alice and her song. Nor the unexpected five-mile diversion thanks to a tree brought down in the gale that had stormed across the area last night.

She’d been like an overwound spring from the moment her taxi drew up outside the house yesterday when she’d arrived to babysit for them.

“Where’s Dad?” he asked.

Babysitting was something his parents usually did together.

“Don’t ask,” she said tightly. The glint in her eyes told him she meant it, so he hadn’t. In spite of Debbie’s fretting.

“But, Mark, it’s so unlike her to turn up without your dad,” she said. “Then this morning, when I said she was welcome to stay for the rest of the weekend, unless she was in a hurry to get back to him, she shrugged and said he wasn’t there – but that, even if he had been, he wouldn’t have noticed she’d gone. She sounded sad, sort of defeated. I tried to get her to open up, but she clammed up on me. You don’t think –”

“I don’t think what?”

“That your dad’s gone and found someone else?”

“Dad? No way.”

Yet something was wrong, that was obvious, even though she’d tried very hard to cover it up. Maybe he should try, one more time, to get her to tell him. Particularly as it looked as though they were going to be stuck here in this traffic jam for some time.

“Mum?” he began.

“Let it go-oooo. Let. It Go.”

“Alice! Will you just stop –”

Mark drew a deep breath.

Then he did just that. He let it go. Mum wouldn’t talk to him anyway.

♦    ♦    ♦    ♦    ♦    ♦

Jane stole a surreptitious glance at her watch. She didn’t want Mark to see she was worried, but she really was going to miss her train. Not that Paul would notice –

Ah, no. She’d promised herself she wasn’t going to talk or even think about Paul. She needed a breathing space to recover from the bombshell he’d dropped on her the other day.

How could he do it? He was obviously having a midlife crisis, talking about life passing him by and going on about his first love. She fought down the fluttering of panic that threatened to overwhelm her whenever she thought about it.

“Let it go-oooo. Let. It Go.”

“I’m so sorry, Mum,” Mark said as the three of them shivered on the draughty platform, watching her train rattle off down the track without her. “It’s my fault you missed it.”


Illustration: Getty Images, Mandy Dixon

Illustration: Getty Images, Mandy Dixon


He braced himself. His mum could be pretty feisty when she was wound up and, boy, was she wound up at the moment. He was beginning to think there was something in Debbie’s theory.

But then, something weird happened.

Instead of the expected ticking-off, she said calmly, “It wasn’t your fault. Unless, of course, you arranged for that tree to fall down?”

“Did you, Daddy?” Alice’s eyes widened. “Wow!”

Of course I didn’t. Granny was joking. What do you want to do now, Mum? Come back with us?”

She shook her head. “There’s another train in an hour. I’ll wait.”

“Then Alice and I will wait with you.”

“Indeed you will not,” she said firmly.  “You’re busy and Alice wants to get back to her dolls. I’ll be perfectly all right in the waiting room. I’ll grab myself a coffee, then sit and have a quiet think.”

“I know – you just want to get away from Alice’s singing, don’t you?” Mark rejoined with a grin.

“Don’t you like my song, Granny?” Alice asked in a small voice.

“Of course I do, sweetheart,” Jane gave her granddaughter a smile, a real, from-the-heart smile. “More than you’ll ever know. Now you and Daddy hurry on home, otherwise I’ll miss another train.”

Jane waved as Mark and Alice disappeared then got herself a coffee and found somewhere to sit.

To sit and think. That’s what she told Mark. And that was exactly what she intended to do. Think about what she’d say to Paul. How he was being reckless with her future as well as his own.

Let it go-oooooo. Let. It. Go.

The words of Alice’s song rolled round and round in her head, as she’d known they would.

I liked your song more than you’ll ever know,” she’d told Alice – and meant it as the message scored a groove in her brain like a skater’s blade on ice.

Let. It. Go.

Yes, Paul should have consulted her.  Not just come home from work and announced he’d given up his job, with its regular salary, sick leave and pension to become a freelance photographer.

Yes, he was a very talented photographer with more freelance work than he could handle. Which was why, when the boss had come around asking for volunteers to take redundancy, he’d been the first to put his hand up.

And yes, he should have come with her instead of going off on that course about setting up your own business.

Let it go-ooooo. Let. It. Go.

So she did. She let go all her anger and resentment. Much of it, she now realised, was based on fear. She’d grown up in a home where money was always tight and financial security had always meant a great deal to her. But Paul meant even more.

He should have talked it through with her. He didn’t, he said, because he was afraid she’d talk him out of it.

Let it go-ooooooo. Let. It. Go.

Jane inhaled the fragrant steam of the coffee and did just that. She let go of her fear. Then she went home to her husband to face together whatever the future might hold.

♦    ♦    ♦    ♦    ♦    ♦

Alice was very pleased they were nearly home because she was tired of being in the car. And she was tired of singing. She was particularly tired of singing that song. She only did it because it annoyed Daddy.

Only he wasn’t telling her to shut up. So she did just that. She Let. It. Go.

The Author Says…

“Oh this is an easy one! I was that grandmother, trapped in the back seat of my son’s car between two grandchildren singing this song. It was a 40-minute drive. It is a very long song.”

Read our short crime story, Message From The Flowers

Karen Byrom