Echoes From The Past – Episode 54

Holly reached the front door before anyone else, and was the first to see the elderly man standing there. He wore a sports jacket and slightly crumpled shirt, but his snow-white hair was smooth and well groomed.

“Good morning,” he said. “Am I in the right place to find Beatrice? Miss Beatrice Seagrave?”

Holly said, “You are,” at the same moment as Bea appeared in the hall saying, “Who wants to know?”

Holly stepped back, and let Bea take over. She was standing well, much straighter than she was before her operation, and of course she was now slimmer than she had been for years. Holly had a brief glimpse of the girl she had once been, and so apparently did the man on the doorstep.

“Bea?” he said. “It’s me. It’s Norman Baker. Norm.”

If Holly was surprised, Bea was thunderstruck.

“Gracious! Are you still alive?”

He laughed.

“As you see. And you’re looking well yourself.” He did not refer to the fact that he must have known what had been happening to Bea, from his frequent unannounced visits to the road. He must finally have worked up the courage to ring the doorbell.

“You’d better come in, then.”

Holly offered to make coffee as Bea led the way into the sitting-room. So this was the famous Norman Baker, the elegant dancer who broke her heart all those years ago. Holly managed to conquer her curiosity and repair to the kitchen and the coffee machine, but she was intrigued. Seven minutes later, she carried in the tray, was introduced to Norman, and took her leave again. The two of them were deep into reminiscence and catching up. There was no place there for Holly.

It was an hour later, while sorting out lunch, that Holly heard the front door close and Bea make her way to the kitchen. She looked up from the counter as her great-aunt came in.

“Well?” she said, full of expectation. It was as though, because she herself was having romantic thoughts, she had hopes of the same thing happening to Bea. She needn’t have bothered. Bea had always been entirely self-sufficient, and wasn’t going to change now.

“Honestly! Men!” Bea lowered herself on to a kitchen chair.

Holly paused.

“So no revived romance, then?”

“Certainly not. The man’s nearer ninety than eighty. I’m not sure he should be driving.”

Holly giggled involuntarily.

“So what’s the story?”

“You don’t want to know. Suffice it to say that his wife died last year, after a long and apparently successful marriage, and he’s lonely. That’s the sum and substance of it. He’s been coming and going a bit, visiting relatives, and then coming back here. He doesn’t like living by himself so he thought he’d look up his long-lost love and see if she’s available.”

“So what did you say?”

“I sent him away with a flea in his ear.” She thought for a moment. “Oh, it was nice enough to see him, but actually, I think he did me a favour all these years ago. We would never have been suited. Now then, what’s for lunch?”

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!