The Dividing Tide – Episode 01

Jenna ran down the cottage steps and turned along the cliff path. Last night her sleep had been disturbed, and when she finally woke the sun had risen. If she didn’t hurry, she’d be late for work.

As she walked, she gazed across the thicket hedge at the sea below. Boats of all sizes dotted the water, dipping and rising on the sparkling waves.

Normally such a sight would have filled her with joy, but today her heart was heavy, for it was Michaelmas, the day eight years ago that her father had left.

“Oh, Papa,” she said.

She swallowed hard, determined not to cry.

“You’re nineteen, Jenna Goss,” she scolded. “You’re not a child anymore.”

The day her father left was as clear in her recollection as if it had happened yesterday. She saw again herself at twelve and felt the tight squeeze inside her chest when he told her he was leaving.

He’d stooped to where she was playing marbles on the cottage step.

“The ships have brought news of gold, Jenna.” Thomas spoke cautiously, as if he were unsure of how she would respond. “In the mountains of Georgia in America. I’m off to seek our fortune!”

Her hands clenched.

“Going away?”

“For a while.”

“How long is a while?”

He shifted his stance.

“That depends on how quickly I find gold, my pet.”

“Will the fortune be for Mamm-wynn, too?” Jenna always gave her grandmother her Cornish title.

“For Mamm-wynn, too.” Thomas smiled, something she hadn’t seen since her mother’s death a year previously. And she knew she must let him go. Above everything, she wanted her dear papa to be happy.

“Be good while I’m away.” He kissed her gently on the cheek, then embraced her grandmother. “Look after her, Mother.”

With those words he turned and walked away. She watched him grow smaller and smaller until at last he’d disappeared, and it was as if part of herself had disappeared, too.

He had written a letter from America. There was a stamp on it which said Port of Savannah, but no address or details from where he could be reached.

They’d asked Parson Rudge to read the letter aloud, for neither Jenna nor Mamm-wynn knew their letters well enough to make out all the words.

Since that day there had been no more news, and the years had passed. Eventually Mamm-wynn said, firmly but gently, that she must be brave and accept the situation.

“Some ill must have befallen him not to write again. It’s in God’s hands.”

But Jenna was young and full of hope. She was sure he was still alive.

“Papa will come home one day, I know he will.”

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.