Echoes From The Past – Episode 25

While Holly was clearing up after breakfast the next day, Angela appeared, having deposited her son, Ryan, at the school gates.

“He had just better stay there,” she said, lines of worry creasing her forehead as she sorted out her various cleaning cloths. “The headmaster said he’d give him one last chance, so he’s back in school. But I still don’t trust his friends. He’s easily led, my Ryan. He might stay in school today, but who knows what he’ll get up to tomorrow. He’s already been barred from two shops in the middle of town.”

“Crikey,” Holly said. “What did he do?”

“Not shoplifting, surely, Angela?” Bea’s inquiry was heartfelt, but perhaps too direct.

“No,” Angela replied, tears starting to come to her eyes. “But they seem to be acting in a threatening manner, according to the headmaster. They barge about and make people get out of their way. Ryan’s not a natural bully, whatever they might say. He just seems to get caught up in things.”

“Hmm,” Bea said thoughtfully. “Tell me, is there anything he’s really interested in? Anything that might divert him from the path he’s on at the moment?”

Angela sighed.

“I’ve asked him that before. All he says is that he really hates school and likes being outside. Even when it’s raining. He’s never minded the rain, or the cold. He just hates being cooped up in a building being asked to learn a whole lot of stuff he’s not good at. So he goes out.”

Holly frowned.

“So long as he’s not involved in anything more . . . organised.” She was thinking of the car that she had seen following Angela’s car along the road, which her fertile imagination had allocated to some mini crime baron, perhaps following Angela to find Ryan. Unlikely, but possible.

Angela’s alarm increased, and Holly wished she could cut her tongue out.

“I’m just speculating, Angela,” she said soothingly. “I haven’t met your son. You know him better than anyone, and if you think he’s not really a bad boy, then you’ll be right. Maybe Aunt Bea’s right, too – he just needs something that will truly interest him.”

Further discussion was interrupted by the ringing of Holly’s mobile, which she picked up and took out of the room.

 “Am I speaking to Holly Seagrave?”

“Yes, you are,” Holly replied. “What can I do for you?”

“My name’s Harris. Mrs Brenda Harris. I’m interested in a wall hanging for my drawing-room. Nothing too fancy. I picked up one of your cards in town and I’ve looked you up online. Your website could be better, but you’ve got one or two designs that
are quite appealing.”

Holly stopped herself from saying, “Have I, indeed?” This was a possible customer, after all. She would remain polite at all times.

“Well, thank you for contacting me. Would you like me to come and discuss things with you?”

“It’s a bit tricky. I’m out a lot – I work for several charities. I know it’s short notice, but you wouldn’t be free later this morning, would you?”

“Just let me check,” Holly said, and clutching the phone to her chest, she went back into the kitchen.

“This is a possible client,” she said to Bea and Angela. “She wants to see me this morning. Would that be possible, do you think?”

“Of course,” Bea said roundly. “I’ll be fine.”

Angela smiled.

“And I’ll be here, don’t worry. Take the chance, Holly.”

“Thanks.” Holly grinned, and returned to the redoubtable Mrs Harris.

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!