Isle Of Second Chances – Episode 11

Donald shrugged.

“The island takes as much credit as we do, with its peace and sense of timelessness. Up here, locals say, ‘When God made time, He made plenty of it.’ So we use that time, and peace.

“People don’t just open up at the touch of a button. It takes them time to sort out in their own minds what they want to talk about – then find the courage to open up, articulate.

“Sometimes it’s as big a voyage of discovery for them as it is for us. We never hurry them. They need to make the pace, define the journey, rather than be dragged through it by someone.”

She frowned.

“But how does it work, your magic treatment?”

Donald stopped, staring up at the peak above them, where tendrils of mist drifted round rocks which seemed to touch the clouds.

“No magic involved,” he said. “It’s an approach on three levels. First, we depressurise them, letting them drift into the gentler pace of island life and get back to basics.

“Secondly, we help them sort out what was truly important and essential in their lives – and what was just self-imposed or societal pressures, unnecessary burdens and tasks which left them struggling and made them feel inadequate.

“Finally, we help them to discard everything but the essentials, and to realise that deep inside they are the same person that they have always been. Maybe older and more scarred, but with scars come wisdom. We help them find and like themselves again, then reshape their lives around what matters to them now.”

Out on the open hillside, the wind blew his ragged hair across a face which was frowning with concentration.

“Your approach seems to work, Donald,” she said quietly.

“Yes, provided that you travel at the patient’s pace,” he said. “In most cases we use Annie’s herbal knowledge to wean them off years of anti-depressants prescribed by doctors in a hurry. Then we let the island itself complete the healing and teach them that there are different, better ways to live.”

“Such as?”

He smiled.

“Coming from the City, you are going to dispute this,” he warned.

“Try me,” Nicola challenged. “You might be surprised.”

“Your choice. This is a tiny isolated island, with a small community of people, and it has evolved its own set of values. After years of being run by absentee landlords – mostly bad ones – they drummed up enough funds from crofting and other boards to buy the island when it was last put up for sale. Now they run it themselves and focus on what they see as important – their own people.

“Take Annie. She’s behind in payments for electricity, but the island has its own self-sufficient electricity grid – windpower and solar – and it refuses to cut her off.

“The reason is, they know she is using that electricity to help others. People count for more than profit here.

“Sure, one day they might have to close her down, but they’re giving her every chance to find a solution to her problem.”

“Which means earning enough to cover her costs. The profit motive,” Nicola stated.

“Only if profit runs alongside serving people, looking after others. Not if it’s the sole objective . . .”

His voice drifted away. They were standing very close.

Nicola was acutely conscious of the wind, of the sense of space all around them and the green island spread out below them like a map. His presence made her lightheaded.

Suddenly they were in each other’s arms and kissing. Attraction of opposites, Nicola thought breathlessly. But it was a powerful attraction indeed!

Then she stopped thinking, losing herself in the moment.
Gently, he eased her away.

“Sorry,” he said. “I don’t know what came over me there. I acted on impulse.”

Nicola stood back. His eyes were the most magnetic blue she had ever seen. It was years since any man had attracted her like this, on every level – intellectual and physical.

“Of course, I’m not really sorry,” he admitted, grinning. “But it seems polite to say so.”

“Let’s go with polite,” she said. “It’s maybe safer.”

Donald glanced up at the peak. It had disappeared in cloud, and grey mist was rolling slowly down the hillside towards them.

“Talking of safe, we’d better turn back,” he said. “The weather’s closing in. If we hurry, we might stay ahead of it.”

“Hurry?” She tried to lighten the moment. “I thought God made time and plenty of it?”

“He did.” Donald smiled. “But the island weather arrived on a Sunday while he was resting. So it’s a law unto itself.”


*  *  * *

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!