The Life We Choose – Episode 17

Sarah longed to be alone, to calm the tumble of thoughts and emotions that had begun to fill her waking hours, keeping her awake and staring out into the darkness of the night.

Later, when the men had been fed, the kitchen cleared up, the dishes washed and the fire banked up, Sarah went upstairs to get ready for her evening tryst with Daniel.

She chose her second-best dress of softest blue and brushed her hair up into the butterfly clasp. As an afterthought, she took with her the little shawl in blue which her mother had knitted for her fifteenth birthday.

“It’s a present for a young lady,” she’d told Sarah. “Because a young lady always keeps her shoulders covered.”

Sarah’s eyes misted over as she held the shawl, delicate as a cobweb, to her cheek, hearing again her mother’s gentle voice.

Daniel, for once, was late. The evening breeze had stiffened into a light but cold wind by the time he joined her.

“You look sad, Sarah. Did you think I wasn’t coming? I’m sorry to be late.” His words came out in a rush.

“Look, Daniel. This is why I’m sad.” She held out a russet leaf. “The first autumn leaf. It fluttered down a moment ago. The summer’s nearly over and soon I’ll have to go.”

“Hush, Sarah.” He gathered her into his arms. For a moment, he didn’t speak.

Sarah could feel the beating of his heart.

“Sarah, don’t go. Stay with me. We belong together, you and me.”

He held her away from him for a moment.

“I know, Daniel, but how?” Her voice died away suddenly, lost in tears.

“There’s an empty house in Langrigg and I’ve been to see the colonel. That’s why I’m late. Mary Ellen came wi’ me and put in a good word for me, so the house is mine.”

He took a handkerchief from his pocket and gently wiped away Sarah’s tears. Then, smoothing her hair back, his dark eyes fixed her in their gaze.

“Sarah Ogilvie, will you marry me?”

* * * *

Sarah leaned forward and rested her forehead against the coolness of the window-pane.
Outside in the yard of the Brodies’ farm were the familiar sights and sounds: the lowing of cattle as they were brought in from the fields for milking, the occasional shout of the cattleman, the rumble of the flat cart loaded with milk churns, the clatter of hooves.

She shivered, feeling a sudden chill of apprehension as she glanced at the letter in her hand. The letter that had taken her the length of a day to write. The letter to her father.

She sat down on the bed and read it yet again. Was she right, she reflected, to have offered no explanation, to have simply stated facts in such a cold and abrupt way? Would it have made any difference if she’d tried to explain her feelings to her father?

Almost without thinking, she spoke the words of her letter aloud. She had read and reread it so often that it was burned into her memory.

Yesterday, I was Sarah Ogilvie. Today, I am Sarah Morrison, because I have married my Daniel. So tomorrow, and for the rest of my life, I will be his wife and will love him and care for him as he will love and care for me. But I will always be Sarah, your daughter, who loves and respects you. It is my dearest wish that, in time to come, you will find it in your heart to give me your blessing.”

Her reflection blurred as she whispered the final words of her letter through tears.

Your loving daughter, Sarah,” she finished.

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”.