Far From The Island – 14

Fiona leaned closer to her cousin.

“He hasn’t been improper, has he?” she whispered.

Ella laughed.

“Goodness, no! John is the soul of propriety. And he’s not jilted me either, before you ask. Quite the contrary, in fact.”

“Ella! He’s proposed?”

“Not yet, but he has hinted he will, if he gets this new position he’s applied for. It’s a boys’ school, very progressive, and it comes with accommodation for married teachers.”

“That’s wonderful,” Fiona said, but Ella’s grey eyes looked mournful. “Isn’t it?”

“The thing is, Fi, I’d have to go and live there. It’s in the countryside, the nearest town is Callander – and you’d hardly call that a town.”

“I don’t understand.”

“What would I do? Who would I teach? What about all my plans for my own school for girls?” Ella burst out. “When he told me about the job, he just took it for granted that I would be delighted. He never even thought about me – said not one word about my career,” she said hotly. “And it’s not as if he doesn’t know what I want, because it’s just the same as what he wants. To teach, and to be allowed to teach properly. He knows that. We’ve talked often enough of having a place of our own, for boys and girls, a place that children want to go to learn. We’ve talked about it and planned it and – oh, I know it wasn’t ever going to happen straight away, but . . .” She broke off, dashing a hand to her eyes, blinking rapidly. “I’m sorry, Fi.”

“Ella, did you say any of this to John?” Fiona asked quietly.

“I couldn’t.”

“Whyever not?”

“He was so excited about his own prospects.”

“But, Ella, if you’re   thinking about marrying him . . .”

“Of course I am. I love him dearly.”

Fiona bit her lip. From the first time that Ella had mentioned John Harrison, she’d had a bad feeling. Ella was so enthusiastic about her plans, she didn’t see how radical it was to assume she could have a career as well as a husband and a family. Ella tended to get carried away, and Fiona suspected that John Harrison had assumed much of what she said was flights of fancy rather than real ambition.

“You and John need to do a bit of straight talking, Ella,” she told her cousin firmly. “I’m sorry, but it sounds to me as if he has no idea that you’re serious about teaching after you’re wed.”

“That’s silly. I’ve made it absolutely clear to him,” Ella declared.

“You can’t have, Ella, but you need to. And before you do that,” Fiona said gently, “I think you have to be absolutely sure of what you’re risking.”

“What do you mean?” Ella frowned.

“You know what I mean. What John wants from his wife and what you want as John’s wife might not be the same thing at all. I’m sorry, but . . .”

Ella pushed back her chair and picked up her gloves.

“There’s no need to be sorry, because you’re wrong. I just know you are.”

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.