They stayed together for the kids’ sake, the desperate longing of courtship long forgotten. Lynette found romance in cheap paperbacks. Lance retreated to his shed.

Things between them only started thawing when the children moved out. The morning after their youngest left Lynette mentioned an auction nearby.

It was the sort of thing they’d done when they were first married. They’d furnished the whole house from clearance sales and markets.

Pretty soon they were back in a weekly round of car boot sales and auctions. The rhythm of it seemed distantly familiar. Their squabbles became fewer and less ferocious. One afternoon Lance bought flowers home—make the place nice. Lynette made his favourite dessert—had some bananas that needed using, she said.

When Ellen, their eldest, rang soon she hoped Mum would answer. Dad was never sympathetic when it came to money.

Dad answered. ‘How much you need?’

Ellen cursed her luck. It sounded like a fortune when she said it.

‘Split the difference. Half on me. Work off the rest when you come up at Christmas.’

‘Dad,’ she said. ‘Are you sure. It’s a lot.’ She thought he may have misheard.

‘Yeah but it’s only money.’

‘Thanks Dad,’ said Ellen, somewhat perplexed. She made a note to call the others. Something was definitely wrong with the old man.