A Debt of Honour – Episode 06


Shauna and her children and Neil, the man she is searching for. The main characters from A Debt of Honour

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Shauna sank into the well-worn armchair in Ellie’s flat and watched her daughter scooping up some clothes from the floor.

“I spent all yesterday reclaiming this place.” Ellie sighed. “They never listen.”

“Where are your flatmates?” Shauna asked.

“Here and there,” Ellie replied. “Some at work, some at parties.

“People aren’t just celebrating the end of the semester.

“We’re leaving university and heading out to start our adult lives.”

Shauna yawned despite herself.

“Got anything lined up?”

“Not really,” Ellie said. “Recovering from finals. Sit back. I’ll make your tea.”

Shauna had passed the stage of being tired many hours ago; exhaustion, too.

Now she felt in some suspended state, where her head was no longer attached to her body.

Ellie came through with a plate of plain biscuits and a mug of tea.

“The tea’s just as you like it, Mum,” she said.

“But they’ve gone and stolen all the good biscuits. There’s nothing left but crumbs.”

“No matter.” Shauna tried to smile. “It’s only tea I want – then bed.”

She sipped the hot tea.

“Who’s Calum?” Shauna asked, before she could stop herself.

She was as bad as that Freda on the plane!

Ellie’s shrug didn’t quite deceive her.

“Like I said, a friend,” Ellie said. “He’s a real genius with technology – he’s just finished his Masters in Computing.”

The words flowed over Shauna. Ellie likes this Calum a lot, she sifted from them.

“Oh, good,” Shauna said, yawning again, then took another sip of tea.

It was so nice to have something that tasted real. After over 25 hours, she was jaded and fed-up with bland food and thin drinks.

“It’s so good to see you again,” Shauna said.

“I sent off a girl, and you’ve grown into a young woman. Even Charlie would be impressed.

“Have you e-mailed him yet?”

Ellie blushed furiously, then glanced up at the clock.

“What time is it in Oz?” she asked, then did the rapid and easy conversion.

“About ten in the morning. Hold on. I’ll e-mail him.”

She picked up her phone and clicked busily.

Shauna watched her through eyes that felt dry and sore.

Lack of sleep, she told herself. But would she be able to sleep tonight?

Her body clock was completely out of synch.

She would be fighting that, as well as sleeping in a strange bed.

Was that what jet-lag meant? As she wondered, her handbag slid to the floor.

“Drat,” she said, picking it up and almost spilling her tea.

From what was now habit, she opened the bag and checked inside.

The crisp envelope was still there. She clipped the bag shut.

“What’s in the envelope?” Ellie asked. “Charlie said you were up to something.”

Shauna was too tired to lie.

“Money,” she replied.

There was a pause.

“How much?” Ellie asked.

“Five hundred British pounds,” Shauna said.

A much longer pause.

“Is that your travel money?”

“No.”

The minute hand on the electric clock on the wall had jumped forward twice, before Ellie spoke again.

“Can I ask what it is, then? Why it’s so important?”

Pinned in a corner, Shauna was too tired to fight her way out.

“It’s a debt of honour,” she said quietly.

Ellie frowned.

“To whom? And why?”

Shauna sat silently.

“Sorry,” Ellie said. “Was that a step too far?”

Shauna shook her head slowly.

“No. Maybe you have a right to know. You and Charlie.”

This might be like lancing a boil, Shauna thought.

Maybe it would be better when all the guilt and pain came out.

After all, this did affect her children.

They would never know how much it had ensured their survival.

Shauna took a deep breath and looked her daughter in the eye.

“It’s a debt of honour to the man I was supposed to marry before I ran away to follow your dad.”

To be continued…


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