Isle Of Second Chances – Episode 02


In the warm kitchen of the Big House, Annie squirmed restlessly beneath the rug which covered her legs in the old armchair.

“Bide still,” Sandy growled. “What’s the point of tucking you in if you keep throwing off the blanket?”

“I’m not an invalid, Sandy Brown,” she protested.

“Donnie and I say you are, so you’re outvoted. Do what you’re told.”

“No!” Defiant despite her weakness, she threw off the rug.

Sandy sighed from the very soles of his tough crofter’s boots. He had watched wildness turn into care and involvement when Annie first came to the island as a young bride. The perfect doctor’s wife.

He had seen the steel core of her appear when she lost the love of her life and became the doctor’s widow.

That was many years ago, before he himself had become a widower. They had shared their grief, drawn together by their loss, and from there had come solid friendship.

“OK,” Annie conceded. “But I am almost better!”

“That you’re not.”

“I’m nervous,” Annie said. “What will she make of me?”

Sandy smiled, softening the craggy lines of his weatherbeaten face.

“She’ll see a thrawn old wifie who’ll take a telling from no-one. Then she’ll turn and catch the first ferry home.”

“That’s what I’m scared of,” she admitted. “I don’t even know the girl.”

He shrugged.

“If she turns away as easy as that then she isn’t worthy of you. She’s not what you need or want.”

“I don’t know what I want.”

“That’s the weakness in you talking,” he replied. “You want someone who can share the burden of the centre with you. Who can take away the worries that are making you ill . . . and will kill you, if you don’t get rid of them.”

Annie caught his hand.

“What I want is a magic wand, Sandy.”

He covered the still-feverish hand with his own callused ones.

“A magic wand? Don’t hold your breath, lassie. They don’t make many of these outside of fairy tales.”

*  *  *  *

The tall islander was standing on the pier, waiting for the gangway to be roped tight against the ferry’s rails and for the solitary passenger to descend.

He had already picked her out. A smart business coat, now wet; long dark hair hanging in rat’s tails down a face which could be pretty if it wasn’t so defiant.

“No doubt of it. You have to be Annie’s niece,” he whispered to himself.

*  *  *  *

Nicola looked up the pier and saw the tall man standing, his dark hair ragged and untidy from the wind which gusted round even this sheltered landing.

It was a face which gave little away. Judging her, she decided, knowing she looked a mess. She was suddenly annoyed.

“Nicola Stephenson?” he asked in a Highland accent.

“Yes, and you are?”

She swore his eyes smiled at her brusque tone.

“Donald Macleod. We are all Macleods here, and most of us are called Donald – even the sheep.”

Was he sending her up, Nicola wondered.

“I’ve been sent by your aunt to bring you to the Big House,” he said. “Let me take your case.”

He reached forward, collapsed the handle and lifted it by its carrying strap.

“It’s meant to trail behind,” she protested.

“Not where we’re going.”

Nicola struggled to match his long stride up the pier.

“Where’s your car?”

“No car,” he replied.

She frowned.

“Taxi?”

“No taxi. There are only three cars on the island – there’s no real road.”

Nicola fought to stop herself from puffing. What good was money spent on a luxury gym if she was getting out of breath as quickly as this?

“So how do we get there?” she asked, already fearing the answer.

“We walk,” he replied, his eyes on the road ahead.

 

lucycrichton

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 150 years of 'Friend' fiction!