The Ferryboat – Episode 34

FOR the actual ceremony it’s only going to be themselves, Donnie’s brother and me,” Iris told Holly, “then back to the Ferryboat for the meal and the dance. Lizzie says she can come up beforehand if that’s any help, although she’ll have Angus with her. If she’s still here, that is.”

“That would be great,” Holly said. “And I’m sure we can find something to keep Angus amused.” She rubbed her hand over her bump. “If these two are poppets like Angus we’ll be very lucky.”

“Do you know . . .?” Iris began.

“Whether they’re boys or girls?” Holly finished. She laughed. “Yes, but I’m not saying. Mum and Dad and Granmar want it to be a surprise so Corin and I haven’t told anyone. Philip’s been trying to find out thinks we should be putting their names down for schools before they’re even born. Did you ever hear the like? But he’ll have to wait like everyone else.”

“So.” Iris reverted to talking about the wedding. “Have Roberta and Donnie chosen a menu?”

“All sorted,” Holly confirmed. “Our first wedding. It’s so exciting. What will Roberta be wearing?”

Iris groaned.

“Her gardening clothes if she has her way. No, really, she absolutely hates clothes shopping. Lizzie and I are taking her to Glasgow one day next week to force her to buy something. I can’t say I’m looking forward to it.”

Holly laughed.

“It’s so funny the way you told it, about the ring being found, Roberta marching down to Donnie’s, bits of earth sticking to the diamonds, Angus in tow . . .”

“Don’t forget the pet worm.” It made Iris giggle even six weeks on to imagine the funny little procession heading purposefully down to the cottage by the ferry. Angus had had no idea why Roberta suddenly decided to visit Donnie at that moment and he didn’t care all he was thinking about was taking the worm on an adventure. What happened when they’d reached Donnie’s house Iris could only speculate.

Donnie and Roberta had brought Angus home on his own, Wendy-and-Walter having been mislaid somewhere along the way longing to tell someone their news.

“She’s set a date at last, Iris,” Donnie had said, his face glowing. “At least, one we hope the registrar and the hotel will agree with. Then she’ll be Roberta Campbell and we’ll live happily ever after.”

“Only reason I’m doing it,” Roberta joked, but with a catch in her voice. “To stop being Roberta Roberts.”

Now, Iris remembered their joy and that phrase of Donnie’s unoriginal though it was “happily ever after”, and felt her eyes prickle with tears.

“I can’t imagine being engaged for eleven years, can you?” Holly asked. “The minute Corin sat beside me on that flight from Spain I knew he was the one. And he felt the same. We were married less than a year later. Mum and Dad thought we should wait, but you just know, don’t you?”

She was clearly in a rosy reminiscent glow, forgetting that Iris had also married young and that had not ended happily.

Even when Fin was alive Iris had found it hard to imagine growing old with him. He was so carefree, always living in the moment. It was exhilarating to be around someone like that when you were barely out of your teens, but probably he wouldn’t have changed no matter what life threw at them over the years. The word “irresponsible” slipped disloyally into her head. She pushed it away.

Fin’s gone, Iris told herself. He’s never coming back. And I have the rest of my life to live.


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