A Place Of Healing – 15

Andrew had been on a home visit to a lady on the outskirts of Drumnagar. She had a painful, swollen knee.

“It flares up now and again, Doctor, especially when we’ve had a thick sea mist.”

He’d given her a cortisone injection and was now heading back home with several warm, freshly baked bannocks beside him on the car seat. Another example of island kindness and generosity.

As he drove he enjoyed the beauty of the island. Spring was coming to Skerrabost and already he was noticing the lengthening of the days. Some ploughed land was pricked with green. He didn’t know what the crop was. Barley? There were black-faced lambs in the fields. New life was coming.

How was their new life, he reflected, Cassie and Jess? Jess had made friends, loved school and, was going round the house singing a snatch of a little song in Gaelic. He could hear it in his head.

Caidil thusa luaidh. You sleep, my love. A lullaby, apparently.

Cassie was busy in the garden, knee deep in seaweed. She had made lots of friends through her yoga.

“I don’t mind strained backs and pulled muscles,” he’d told her, “but if your participants start coming to me with broken bones you are in trouble, lady.”

She’d laughed, and it was good to hear her laughing again.

“Actually I do worry about Gideon Reed,” she said, “but he keeps getting up again. The price of true love.”

Andrew didn’t know what that meant.

And what about himself? Well, for now he’d be satisfied with Cassie’s and Jess’s happiness.

Near home he parked the car and decided to walk down to the shore. He followed the winding path past Murdo MacKenzie’s bench and stepped on to the sand, still shiny and ridged slightly from the passing of the sea.

He walked towards a tumble of black rocks.

A hundred yards from the shore on a flat outcrop of rock, brown seals lay sleeping in the spring sunshine, their pups by their side. More new life.

The sky was a pale herring-bone blue, the wind gentle. The line of Yeats’s poem came again to him.

And I shall find some peace there.

He returned up the path, and this time the bench was occupied.

“Good afternoon, Murdo.”

“And a good afternoon to you, Doctor Shelley. A fine afternoon it is.” The man patted the bench at his side. “Will you join me for a while?”

“My pleasure.” Andrew sat. “Are you well, Murdo?”

“Now, that’s a very dangerous question for a doctor to ask. Do you not think so?”

Andrew laughed.

“You’re quite right.”

“But I am well,” Murdo said, “for I have the scent of the heather and the tang of the sea. Better than all the potions and pills in bottles and jars. No offence, Doctor.”

“None taken, Murdo, none taken.”

The two men sat in silence for a while looking at the crinkled sea.

“Murdo, the inscription on the bench. Was Fraser MacKenzie your son? If you don’t mind me asking.”

The fisherman shook his head slowly.

“I do not mind. Aye, my dear son, Fraser. I prefer to say Fraser is my son, for he always will be, you understand. And he is always with me.” He touched his heart.

Andrew nodded.

“I do understand.” After a moment he said, “What happened?”

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!