On Distant Shores – Episode 43


Maggie sat in her bedroom in her aunt Margaret’s house, the latest letter from her mother on her lap. She felt a surprising pang of homesickness for her family’s farm on PEI, with the red dirt road winding its way through the birches, and the glint of the sea in the distance. She’d never thought she’d miss that poky place, yet in that moment, with the quiet elegance of her aunt’s house stretching out all around her, Maggie found she missed it very much indeed.

Although if she were honest, what she really missed was the friendship she’d had with Seamus Flanagan. In the last few weeks he’d withdrawn from her, and the absence of his gentle teasing and shy smiles grieved Maggie sorely.

Without his company she felt even more of a stranger here, a country girl in the bustling city, whose plain ways and simple dreams could not be disguised by a few fancy dresses.

With a sigh Maggie folded her mother’s letter and slid it between the pages of her bible. She didn’t know why Seamus had suddenly stopped being friendly to her, and she had not even had the opportunity to ask. Any time she tried to talk to him alone he found some excuse to hurry away.

“Maggie?”

Maggie looked up to see her aunt, as lovely and elegant as always, standing in the doorway of her bedroom. Quickly she stood up and smoothed her crumpled skirts.

“Yes, Aunt?”

“You needn’t be so formal with me, you know,” Margaret said with a smile. “I’ve had the tea things brought to the sitting-room. Would you care to join me?”

“Thank you very much, Aunt Margaret.”

Her aunt rested a cool hand against her cheek as Maggie passed.

“My dear,” she murmured, “are you well? You’ve seemed rather quiet lately.”

“I’m very well, thank you.” Maggie didn’t think her aunt wanted to hear about how she missed Seamus Flanagan’s company. Margaret hadn’t wanted him to attend the school in the first place.

A sudden thought assailed Maggie, as sharp and pointed as an arrow. Could her aunt have said something to Seamus? Warned him against being too friendly with her?

With a distracted smile Maggie followed her aunt downstairs, her mind still wrestling with this unfortunate possibility.

Maggie only managed a few minutes of stilted conversation before Margaret put down her teacup and gazed at her with bemusement, her eyebrows raised.

“Maggie, you are clearly thinking of something else. I have asked you the same question three times now.”

“I’m sorry.” Maggie flushed and bit her lip. “What was the question?”

“It doesn’t matter. What I wish to know is what is distracting you so this afternoon.”

Taking a deep breath, Maggie blurted out, “Did you tell Seamus not to talk to me any more?”

Margaret’s mouth tightened.

“Seamus, is it?” she remarked coolly, and took a sip of tea.

Maggie felt her hands clench into fists at her sides. She’d always been hot-tempered, and the fact that her aunt hadn’t denied her accusation, nor even looked surprised, made her think the worst.

“Yes, Seamus. He was my friend.”

“Girls of your age do not make friends with men like Seamus, or any men at all, for that matter.”

“What do you mean, men like Seamus?”

Margaret sighed and set her teacup aside.

“Maggie, I know your head has been turned by this young man, and I do understand that. You are new to this city, and your life thus far has been very quiet. Naturally you are looking for a little excitement –”

“That’s not it at all, you know.” Maggie spoke quietly, even though she felt filled with a powerless rage. “I don’t like Seamus because he’s different and exciting. I like him because he’s familiar, because he’s like me.” She threw one hand out, gesturing to the elegant sitting-room, the sashed windows with the view of Boston Common. “This is what is different, Aunt Margaret.”

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 aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.