On Distant Shores – Episode 51

Maggie pulled her shawl more tightly around her shoulders despite the hot, still air of the Sunday afternoon. She kept her eyes lowered as a sailor stumbled by her along the refuse-covered street. She had never before gone so far into Boston’s notorious Murder District.

Aunt Margaret and Uncle Henry didn’t even know she was here. After they’d returned home from church, Maggie had pleaded a headache and gone to her bedroom. While her aunt and uncle retired to the drawing-room, she’d sneaked downstairs and out the front door without even one of the servants noticing. She was determined to find Seamus.

She didn’t have much of a plan beyond that, and she realised it wasn’t a very good plan to begin with. She didn’t know where he lived, only that his family shared a house in the shanties by the harbour where the city’s newest Irish immigrants generally ended up. And when she found him? Somehow she had to convince him to start talking to her again.

A woman hurried by, her head lowered, and quickly Maggie stepped towards her.

“Excuse me, but do you know where the Flanagans live?”

The woman shook her head, not even meeting Maggie’s gaze. She watched the woman hurry by and waited for someone else to pass – someone she felt comfortable asking, at any rate.

Twenty minutes later her dress was sticking between her shoulder blades and her scalp prickled with heat. She’d asked six different people where the Flanagans lived, and nobody had known. Most hadn’t answered. The closest she’d come to success was when a tall, beaky woman had asked her which Flanagans she meant, but she’d never heard of a Seamus.

Dispirited, Maggie wondered if she should go home. What if her aunt and uncle missed her? She could be in the greatest trouble she’d ever known, which made it all the more imperative that she succeeded in this foolhardy mission, and find Seamus.

She stood there on the street, people hurrying past her, wondering what on earth she could do, when suddenly, striding towards her, she saw the most wonderfully familiar, brawny figure.


He didn’t hear her at first, and so she had to call again. He looked around, squinting his eyes against the sun, and then he caught sight of her and a lovely smile broke over his face, but it was quickly replaced with a frown.

“Maggie!” He came towards her and took her by the arm, steering her off the street into the shelter of a building. “What in the name of all that’s holy are you doing here? This is no place for a girl like you.”

“A girl like me?” Maggie let out a laugh that was half-wild. “Seamus, you have no idea about a girl like me. It’s my aunt who lives in a Back Bay mansion, not me. I’m happiest on a farm.”

He just shook his head, his expression turning all the grimmer.

“I shouldn’t even be talking to you.”

“My aunt told me what she said to you,” Maggie told him, her voice trembling. “And it’s so unfair.”

She bit her lip, struggling against sudden tears. It was unfair, but how could she ask Seamus to go against her aunt’s wishes and lose his place at the school, all just because she missed him?

“Unfair it may be,” Seamus said quietly, “but I must respect your aunt. For your sake as well as my own.”

Maggie nodded. She had risked so much and come all this way, and for what? Simply for Seamus to tell her what she already knew. And yet . . .

“Seamus,” she asked in a low voice, “even if you can’t talk to me – even if my aunt forbids it – tell me the truth. Do you care for me? At all?”

Seamus gazed down at her, his eyes stormy with conflicting emotion. Tenderness, which gave her hope, and torment, which made her heart twist inside her.

“Yes,” he said quietly. “Yes, I do.”

Maggie didn’t think. She
just acted, flinging her arms around him. Seamus grabbed hold of her shoulders, steadying her, trying to draw her away from him.

“Maggie –”

“Then I am glad I came,” she said simply, and tilted her head up towards him. Her breath caught in her chest at the sudden intent look in his eyes, and without even knowing what was really happening she let her head fall back a little, her lips part.

And then sweetly, so sweetly, Seamus leaned forward and kissed her.

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”.