A Time To Reap – Episode 39

A Time To Reap

A photograph of Sadie had been sent to Paisley, to Tam’s aunt. Sadie, lying on her tummy on a blanket and smiling right at the camera, was so adorable that Tam and June ordered a copy for themselves, as well as the photograph of the three of them.

Both, now framed, were added to the mantelpiece in the front room to sit beside their wedding photo and one of them taken last Christmas with June’s family.

June was dusting the mantelpiece and admiring the pictures again when she heard Isa’s door bang shut.

When the last visit to watch television next door had ended on a sour note, with June telling Isa she didn’t want to hear any unpleasant tittle-tattle about their neighbours, June had thought that Isa would stop speaking to her altogether.

But Isa acted as though nothing had happened. A few days after that visit Isa had handed in a little jumper for Sadie that had a picture of Andy Pandy knitted into the front.

Much as she would have liked to break contact, June didn’t have the heart to refuse the gift Isa had clearly gone to a lot of trouble to make.

Now, as she heard a knock at her own door, she knew it must be Isa.

She looked at Sadie, propped up on cushions in her playpen and wearing the Andy Pandy jumper. That should put Isa in a good mood.

But when she came in, and June put the kettle on for morning coffee, Isa only seemed to have one subject on her mind – her son, Frank.

“He’s been like a bear with a sore paw this past week or so. I can’t get a civil word out of him.”

“Didn’t you say his girlfriend had moved away with her family?”

“It’s not that,” Isa scoffed. “Frank’s never been one to be upset over a lassie for long. It’s always the other way. Many’s a time I’ve opened my door to find some girl in tears asking for him.”

June spooned coffee into cups.

“What do you think is wrong?”

It was a question she would put to anyone in the circumstances, but asking Isa anything felt like she was conspiring with her in some nefarious gossip. She didn’t really want to know the answer.

“I think Rodney Shaw’s been getting at him again. I saw them having an argument in the farmyard, but I couldn’t hear what it was about and Frank wouldn’t say.”

June wasn’t going to tell Isa that Tam thought Rodney Shaw was a nasty piece of work. But she had often seen with her own eyes Frank going off somewhere, all dressed up, when he should have been working – so the factor had every right to be angry with him if he found out.

“I hope no-one’s been telling tales.” Isa gave June a beady stare over the top of her cup. “Frank’s a hard worker. He’s entitled to a bit of fun.”

June had heard it all before. She was going to stop this conversation right now.

“Look,” she said, smiling over at the playpen. “Sadie loves her new jumper.”

Isa’s expression softened.

“I wanted a wee girl after Frank. But it wasn’t to be.”

June had a moment of fellow feeling with her difficult neighbour.

“We had a lovely photo taken of Sadie. Would you like to see it?” she asked, scooping Sadie up and blowing a raspberry into her neck. “Shall we show Isa you lying on that furry blanket?” She led the way through to the front room.

Isa admired the photographs and then peered closely at June’s wedding picture.

“How long have you been married?”

“Five years.” Already June was regretting taking Isa through their house, telling her anything.

“And when was this one taken?” Isa picked up the fourth photograph and stared at it.

“Last Christmas,” June said. “At my mum and dad’s.”

“Last Christmas,” Isa repeated, looking puzzled. “But – ”

Evidently she changed her mind about saying more, but clearly something had made her think.

It was only later, when June was giving Sadie her last bottle of the evening, that she realised what that something could be.

Last Christmas was just six weeks before Sadie was born. But in the photo there was June in her best dress, cinched in at the waist, clearly not about to have a baby . . .

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.