11 Ladysmile Lane – Episode 25

The only other sound in the room came from a clock Harrison had on his desk as Mel, struggling at times, told her story. She described the strong physical resemblance between Ewan and her brother, Michael, though she spoke of him as Mick.

“My sister, Carol, noticed it right way, too. But he isn’t related. When I interviewed him, he told me all about his background. There’s no connection. And, striking though it is, the resemblance is more about the way he wears his hair – things like that…”

Mick was older than herself and Carol.

“He was in his teens when we were just kids. He was our wonderful big brother. We adored him.”

Then he had had a huge disagreement with their parents. Mel made it clear that neither she nor her sister blamed their parents. But they were deeply saddened by the result, which was Mick leaving home and never returning.

“He never once even phoned us, so we’d no idea where he was until we were informed by the authorities of his death. It seemed he’d had a bad time since leaving home, but had been too stubborn and proud to come back. He could have done, at any time! The door was always open for him and our mum cleaned his room every week. But you know how it is at that age.”

Harrison shrugged.

“I guess,” Mel continued, “that makes me and Carol more aware of people down on their luck. If only someone had been there for Mick…” She shook her head. “I wish we’d known where he was. Young though we were, Carol and I would have moved heaven and earth to help him.”

Georgia didn’t consider herself one who cried easily, but hearing the sorrow in Mel’s voice, she felt tears in her eyes.

She looked at Harrison. In his usual leather jerkin, collar turned up, he was staring at the lovely old stained-glass window in his office. As she’d expected, she could gauge nothing of his thoughts.

“I’ll take the case,” he finally said, “but I don’t want paid. I’ll do it, same as you, to help the lad. I’ll need to speak to him. Tomorrow’s Saturday, but I’ll be here. Get him to drop by at, say, two o’clock, will you?”

Still his face gave nothing away. But when they were leaving, he gave Mel a hug.

“Don’t tell Ruth about that, will you?” Mel said to Georgia when they were out on the darkening street.


“His solicitor friend who gives him work. You probably haven’t met her yet, but you will. She comes round quite often.”

“Oh? No, I won’t repeat anything you’ve said. It’s a family matter. It’s private.”

“No, not that,” Mel said. “It’s the hug I don’t want her to know about. She’d be mad with jealousy!”

Realising Mel was trying to deal with her emotions by joking, Georgia grinned.

“Likes him, does she?”


They chatted as they walked along to their respective vehicles.

“Those smell good,” Georgia said, nodding towards a couple of girls eating chips.

“They’ll be from the shop by the canal. It was really busy back when all the mills were working. But it’s survived the closures because it’s so good.”

“Fancy sharing a bag?”

“OK, but don’t tell Brett.”

Mel laughed, and to Georgia’s delight it sounded a genuine laugh this time. Imagining the disapproval of Number 11’s resident epicure, Georgia laughed, too, as she linked Mel’s arm.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.