The Life We Choose – Episode 48

She’d left before Sarah had got back from the Wee School and somehow Daniel had never quite found the right moment to tell her about Katy’s visit, or the fact that he’d given her their meagre savings, his mind crowded as it was with thoughts of the meeting, the planned strike.

He was turning the empty tea caddy over and over in his hands when Sarah came in the door. They looked at each other.

“I’m sorry,” they said in unison.

As they sat entwined on the fireside chair, Sarah smoothed his hair back and kissed him lightly on the brow.

“No more quarrels or angry silences, Daniel,” she said. “And no secrets.”

He nodded, his arms tightening around her waist.

“I promise, Sarah. We might disagree, but we won’t quarrel about it. But secrets.” He thought for a moment, then sighed. “I have a secret. I’ve been meaning to tell you, but what with the meeting and all . . .”

His wife placed her finger on his lips.

“No mention of the meeting allowed, Daniel Morrison. We agreed. Now, tell me your secret, and when you’ve done that, I’ll tell you mine.”

Haltingly, Daniel told her about the money he’d given to Katy.

“You did the right thing.” Sarah smiled at him. “Katy’s very young. You have to make sure she’s safe in Edinburgh. Have you told her to write and give us her address there?”

Daniel nodded.

“Then I’ll go and see your mam as often as I can, and your father, too, even if he’s in one of his black moods.”

The look of determination on Sarah’s face as she mentioned his father made Daniel laugh.

“Pate was right,” he said at last.

“About what?”

“I’ll tell you some day, love, but not now, or my life might just become unbearable.” Daniel laughed.

But beneath that laugh was a knot of worry. Daniel had one secret that he couldn’t share with Sarah – the unexpected visit of Rushforth that very afternoon, when Daniel was alone in the home.

The pit manager had worn a strange, unpleasant smile. His voice had been menacingly quiet.

“So you had a meetin’, did you?” He’d sneered. “Then here’s your warnin’, Morrison. One mair hint o’ trouble from you, and it’s doon the road.” As he’d turned away, he’d uttered one last threat. “And it’s oot o’ this house for you and your . . .” he’d hesitated “. . . your very clever wife, wi’ her fancy ways,” he’d finished.

There had been spite and jealousy in his words.

*  *  *  *

In the local shop, Tricky Binnie was holding the floor.

Leaning back against the counter, hand nonchalantly in pocket, he was basking in the attention of Nellie Burnett and some of her cronies.

Maggie, the shopkeeper, glanced at the clock. It was long after her usual closing time.

“Did you come in here tae buy somethin’, Tricky, or were ye juist lookin’ for an audience?” she enquired.

Tricky, in full flow, didn’t seem to hear her.

“Oh, aye, it’s a braw hoose,” he told Nellie Burnett, who was enquiring about the interior of the Grant residence. “A’ fancy stuff an’ taradiddles. Nae ben the room and ben the kitchen up there. It’s the drawing-room.” He assumed a strangulated tone of politeness. “The mawrning room, the liberry wi’ thoosands o’ books.”

“And the scullery, where you’ll spend maist o’ your time, I expect.” Nellie Burnett’s tone was scornful.

“Nut at a’,” was the response. “I have the run o’ the hoose. ‘Make yoursel’ at hame, Ernest,’ Miss Bunty telt me.”

There was a titter of disbelief which went unnoticed by the speaker.

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”.