A Place Of Healing – 12

“The posters are all up now, Andrew,” Cassie said. “It’s just a question of seeing what kind of response I’ll get. What do you think?”

Andrew sucked his teeth.

“The church hall. Is it big enough? I mean, once you get thirty or forty fisherman and farmers in there in their oilskins and wellingtons, if one topples over they’ll go down like dominoes.”

“Ha, ha. Very funny.”

Andrew smiled at her.

“Sorry. Didn’t mean to sound patronising. I’m just saying, don’t be too disappointed if there isn’t a great uptake at first. But if anyone can make a go of it you can.”

There was a knock at the front door.

“I’ll get it,” Andrew said thankfully.

A minute later he came back with Mr and Mrs Barton and Sarah. Mr Barton carried a box. Andrew introduced them to Cassie who smiled a welcome.

“This is for you, Doctor.” Mr Barton shyly gave Andrew the box, which contained a bottle of fifteen-year-old Skerrabost malt whisky. Expensive! Andrew knew that he must accept it graciously.

“This is wonderful! Gosh, I’m not used to such good stuff. Fifteen years? It’s older than you, Sarah!”

“This is for you.” Sarah gave him an envelope.

Andrew opened it and took out a thank-you card.

To the best doctor on Skerrabost.

He laughed.

“I’ll put this up in the surgery. It’ll give my patients confidence in me!”

“And I’ve got a card and chocolates for Nurse Hughes,” Sarah said.

Mrs Barton simply took his hand.

“Thank you.”

Cassie could feel a tear begin to well in her eye.

“Tea, anyone?”

The Bartons wouldn’t stay, but Cassie waylaid them in the hall.

“Are you coming to the yoga class, Mrs Barton? I’m sure you’d like it.”

You little tinker, Andrew thought.

Mrs Barton looked at her doubtfully but then nodded.

“Yes, Mrs Shelley. I’ll be there.”

“Can I come, too?” Sarah asked.

Andrew shook his head.

“You mustn’t do any stretching or anything too physical for a few weeks.”

“You’d still be welcome, Sarah,” Cassie put in. “To see what goes on. You can be in charge of the CD player, ensure everyone has water, make a list of everyone who comes. Gosh, I’d have an assistant!”

Andrew looked at his wife, full of enthusiasm, full of life. Happy. Sometimes, when he looked at her and she didn’t know, he would see a sadness in her face, a pain in her eyes that she tried to hide from him. And then his heart would ache.

* * * *

It was a blustery evening; not a night when one might want to venture outdoors, but the inhabitants of Skerrabost had long accepted one truth – if you let the weather of Skerrabost control your life you’d need to change your plans three or four times a day, or even every hour! Andrew had declined Cassie’s invitation, but Jess was by her side. One of her school friends and her mum had promised to come and Jess was kitted out in leotard and ballet shoes. She was already cavorting around the empty hall.

The door opened and a rather sheepish Paul Bryant appeared in jeans and football shirt. He looked round.

“Am I the first? I put the heating on this afternoon. It’s still a bit chilly for April.”

The door opened again and Mary Jordan, in leggings and sweater, came in. Paul’s face lit up and Mary greeted them with a bright smile. She admired Cassie and Jess in their leotards.

“I must get one of those.”

Paul turned red.

“Yes, you’d, ah . . . I think someone else is coming.”

Ten minutes later, much to Cassie’s relief, she had a class of about a dozen, including Mrs Barton with a friend and Sarah; two giggly teenage girls in smart track suits and pink socks; Mrs Lewis, the landlady of the Stanecroft Hotel and her friend, Kathleen; Mrs McGregor of rabbit-pie fame, who no doubt had come along to keep an eye on Cassie’s welfare, and Maura Campbell, a middle-aged widow who ran the post office. Finally, much to Paul Bryant’s relief, another male appeared.

Gideon Reed was a large man in his late fifties, a fisherman with his own small boat for the lobster and the mackerel. He wore baggy trousers and a voluminous green sweater.

He smiled at everyone and nodded shyly at Maura Campbell. She coloured slightly and returned a quick nod of her head.

Cassie began.

“Right, ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for coming. Yoga is a great way of keeping strong and healthy. Some of the exercises are particularly good for strengthening the legs and ankles and that is especially important as we grow older. I’m going to show you one or two yoga positions and then we can all have a go at something simple.”

In her black leotard Cassie went through a five-minute exhibition.

“Not an ounce of fat on her. Not one ounce,” Mrs McGregor whispered loudly, then tutted.

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!