Isle Of Second Chances – Episode 09


He leaned forward to scratch the dog’s ears.

“So I lost all faith in my training, in myself and in the hospital system of which I was a part. I didn’t belong over on the mainland, and couldn’t accept its values, its priorities and endless pressure. I came home, and have never regretted it.”

He nodded at the island’s solitary mountain top.

“Look at those white clouds playing round the Sgurr – I must take you there one day. Listen to the curlews crying, out at the far end of the bay. Listen to the sound of the waves on the shingle, or the wind through the long grass at the edge of the shore. This is where I belong.”

As his mood lifted the bleakness left his face. Nicola could see how much this quiet island meant to him.

Impulsively, she reached out to touch his arm.

“Thank you for telling me. That couldn’t have been easy.”

“It wasn’t,” Donald said. “I ask for only one thing in return.”

“Which is?”

“Find out how the centre works. Talk to people – the girls, Sandy and Annie herself. She’s not a hippy nutcase, she’s a qualified herbalist, a doctor in her own right.

“Small Isles doctors travel miles to talk to her and to use her knowledge because herbs have often fewer side effects than conventional medicines. Certainly those medicines I routinely prescribed back on the mainland!”

He flicked finger and thumb again and the dog was instantly at his heels.

“The centre is so far beyond repair that a few days’ delay won’t make any difference,” he pointed out. “Please talk to people before you act. Get to know what we are doing, so you’ll know what you will be closing down.”

She nodded slowly.

“I promise.”

He smiled.

“That’s all I ask.”

 

*  *  *  *

Feeling like a toddler escaping from nursery, Annie hurried along the hallway towards the lounge. Rather, she tried to hurry.

Twice she had to steady herself against the wall. What had happened to her strength now that her knee had virtually healed? This was ridiculous!

She found the lounge empty of all patients except one, Pamela, who exclaimed with concern and leaped out of her chair to hurry over.

“I’m fine,” Annie protested. “I can manage.”

“Does Sandy know you are here?”

Annie grimaced.

“He’s turned into a broody hen, with me his only chick.”

“For good reason – you were really ill. Sit down.”

Pamela ushered Annie into an armchair – a role reversal, having her patient taking charge. Annie’s sense of humour was never far below the surface. She began to smile.

“Where are the other girls?” Annie asked.

“Alice is out walking, heading for the Singing Sands. Ellen is helping Sandy to collect eggs. I never knew that ‘free range’ meant halfway across the island!”

Annie sank into the armchair.

“So they have left you on your own, Pamela?”

“No matter. I’m reading poetry. It’s something I always wanted to do, but I never had the time to sit and let the flow of words take me over. Donald loaned me the book. It’s by an old American poet, Robert Lowell.”

“I don’t know him,” Annie said, wondering if she had become like her own patients, too busy worrying to read poetry. “Have you seen Nicola?”

 

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!