A Place Of Healing – 02

Andrew brought the car to a halt outside a detached grey stone house with big Georgian windows. A short path and three stone steps led up to the black front door of Stanecroft House, their new rented home.

They got out of the car and looked at it.

“It’s big,” Cassie said.

“Devil of a job to heat,” Andrew added.

“May I choose my room, Mummy?” Jess asked.

Andrew walked up the three steps. There was a piece of paper taped to the door.

Keys inside. He looked round at Cassie then turned the door knob and opened the door.

Cassie laughed.

“That’s a good sign. You wouldn’t do that in London.”

Andrew came back down the steps, put his arm around Cassie then scooped her up in his arms.

“Andrew! What are you doing? People are looking.”

Jess was clapping in delight.

“I don’t care.” Andrew was looking into his wife’s eyes, his face serious. “I said we needed a new start and now I want to carry my wife into her new home.”

“Andrew, people will think we’ve just got married, and we have an eight-year-old child!” She started to giggle, her arms around his neck.

“Shall I carry Mummy over the threshold, Jess?”

“Yes, Daddy! Yes!”

He set her down in their new home. They looked around them and saw some of their old furniture, looking odd in the strange surroundings.

Andrew was nodding.

“This is good. The agent has done well.”

“Look, Andrew, another note.”

Cassie peeled a small piece of paper from the dining-table. It had the same careful, rounded writing.

There is a box of groceries, fresh milk, bread, tea and so on with Mr Lewis at the Stanecroft Hotel.

“Oh, Andrew, isn’t that thoughtful? You go and get the box and we’ll have a nice cup of tea. C’mon, Jess, let’s explore the kitchen.”

Andrew looked out of the window. Across the road and about 50 yards down the hill, a hanging sign identified the Stanecroft Hotel. He’d better go and meet the locals. He turned to tell Cassie he was going. She was standing in the doorway, a tear trickling down her cheek.

“Cassie, what is it?”

“I forgot to pack a kettle. But then I looked, and there was one on the stove. It almost felt as though it said, ‘Welcome to Skerrabost’.”


* * * *


Andrew stepped through the door of the Stanecroft Hotel. The sign over the door read J. Lewis, Prop. He walked down a short dark corridor. A glass case on the wall held the remains of an ancient salmon with gold-rimmed black eyes and pouting mouth. The bar was small but cosy.

A quick glance identified about six early evening patrons – a man and his wife on a bench seat by the window with a pint of beer and a glass of white wine, an elderly man in tweeds sitting at a small table with a glass of whisky and a newspaper, and three men in thick worn jerseys propping up the bar.

As Andrew stepped in, conversation stopped and all eyes turned to him. Behind the bar, a small man with dark, short hair and fresh complexion was polishing a whisky glass. Andrew stepped up to the bar, feeling as if he was in a Western film, where the stranger in town walks into the saloon and waits to be challenged by the local gunfighter.

He spoke to the glass polisher.

“Are you Mr Lewis?”

The man put down his cloth.

“I am. Jock Lewis. And you’ll be Doctor Shelley.” He held out his hand and Andrew shook it.

“Yes, Andrew Shelley. How do you do, Mr Lewis.”

The man darted to the back corner of the bar and shouted.

“Maureen, the doctor’s here!”

Maureen Lewis quickly appeared, patting her hair.

“Hello, Doctor Shelley,” she said. “Did you have a good trip?”

“It was long and tiring. But at least we weren’t sick on the ferry.”

Jock Lewis appeared with the box of groceries, which he placed on the bar.

One of the men at the bar spoke, a heavy-set man with a grizzled beard.

“It’s a long way to come from London for a job.” He looked at Andrew.

Andrew returned the look.

“Yes, it is,” he said and reached for the box.

The man was about to say something else when Jock Lewis interrupted.

“Whilst you’re here, Doctor, I was wondering.” He held up his right hand. “I keep getting a terrible tingling in my thumb and two fingers, a few times a day. Is it something serious, do you think?”


Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!