A Year In France – Episode 12

Supplied © A Year In France illustration by Mandy Dixon

An hour later, as Julia stood at the top of the hill behind the village, listening to the church bells tolling out across the valley, she thought about the new life she’d thrown herself into a few short months ago.

It was a life she’d longed for. Falling in love with Philippe had unleashed emotions and desires in her that she’d repressed as she concentrated on her career.

So why was she feeling so unsettled? Had Maddy been right when she’d tried to warn her? Marry in haste, repent at leisure.

As she’d flung herself into the excitement of loving Philippe and planning the wedding, Julia realised she hadn’t given any thought to how different her life would be as a married woman. Or how different life would be in a foreign country.

Watching the cars travelling along the main road through the village, she realised she’d also failed to take into account her independent streak.

Before she died, her mum had often told her, “You’re too independent for your own good, young lady.”

Had she been foolish when she’d assumed that she and Philippe would talk and make joint decisions about things that affected them both? This past week alone, he’d arbitrarily made two decisions without discussing things with her.

First he’d dismissed the cottage she liked, and now he’d cancelled the trip to the London Book Fair.

Maybe she should go on her own. She could stay at Maddy’s so there would be no need to worry about finding a hotel.

A few days away, chatting to Maddy and catching up with other friends, then a day at the book fair and going to a show. She could live life as she’d known it for so long.

And when she got back here she’d sort her life out. Maybe find some freelance work.

“Come on, Tess.” She called the dog, who was inspecting some rabbit holes. “Let’s go home.”

She would phone Maddy when she got back, make the arrangements and tell Philippe her decision over lunch.

*  *  *  *

It was after ten o’clock on Sunday morning before Dannie woke up.

Initially confused as to where she was when she opened her eyes, a feeling of relief flooded through her body as she remembered Maddy and her kindness the evening before.

The food, a hot shower and this comfortable bed had been sheer bliss. The nightmare memories of the past few weeks would take time to fade, but the deep sleep she’d fallen into last night was a step in the right direction.

A tiny flame of optimism that everything would work out began to burn inside her.

She could hear Maddy moving around the flat and could make out the sound of the radio turned down low. It was the omnibus edition of “The Archers”.

Her mum would be listening to that in the kitchen at home while she prepared the vegetables for lunch.

Dannie pushed thoughts of home away. She would have time to think about that later, after she’d given Maddy an answer to the generous offer she had made last night.

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.