The Life We Choose – Episode 59

By the time Bunty had set off home, Daniel was sitting by the kitchen range, trying to poke a dour fire into life and staring without appetite at the Scotch broth and cold cut of boiling beef that Mary Ellen had left for him.

Sarah had been gone for days now, but from the moment she’d stepped out the door, the heart had gone from the house.

He was lost in thought, turning over in his mind what Lofty had told him, trying to visualise again the plan of the old workings that Rushforth had snatched away from him, when there was a thunderous banging at the door. The noise made the front window tremble in its frame.

It was Rushforth.

Face contorted in fury, he confronted Daniel as he opened the door.

“Ah warned you, Morrison,” he shouted, “an’ you went runnin’ tae Miss Grant. Well, it’s doon the road for you this time an’ nae mistake. Collect the pay that’s due tae you and dinna come back.”

With one last long look of loathing, he leaned forward, a smile of triumph on his sneering face.

“An’ you an’ that wife o’ yours are oot o’ this hoose. Two weeks ye have tae gather up yer stuff. An’ if ye’re still here at the end o’ two weeks, I’ll come an’ pit ye oot mysel’.”

* * * *

As the train left the grey bulk of Edinburgh behind and sped into the green landscape of the countryside, Sarah settled back in her seat, glad that she’d chosen an empty compartment for her journey. Her journey home was a quiet time when she could go over every detail of her visit to her father.

She smiled to herself, thinking of the days they’d spent talking together, the way in which her father had seemed able to speak of her mother, somehow bringing her into their conversations, letting her understand at last the careful plans they’d made for her. Thoughtfully, she opened her handbag and took out the two envelopes that her father had given her the night before.

“Open these only when you return home,” her father had instructed her. “Much will be explained by their contents, which must be shared now with your husband.”

For a moment, Sarah was tempted to open the envelopes, but she resisted. She’d wait, she decided, until she and Daniel could open them together.

She settled back in her seat, staring, unseeing, at the green landscape that sped past, her thoughts back in her father’s big, sunny room in Aunt Bertha’s house where they’d talked for hours on end until he’d become tired and had drifted off into a gentle sleep. She smiled to herself as the train began to slow towards the Junction, remembering Aunt Bertha’s final words to her as she had taken her leave at Waverley Station.

“I think you’ve managed to mend your father’s broken heart,” she’d said. “Come back soon, Sarah, and bring Daniel with you.”

At the Junction, Chisholm, the carter, was taking delivery of several large packages from the guard’s van of the train. He glanced over his shoulder.

“It’s yoursel’, Mistress Morrison. Mary Ellen said you’d likely be back in the next day or twa, an’ tae keep a look oot for you. Juist gie me a meenit.”

On the way back to Langrigg, Chisholm was strangely quiet. For a while, Sarah tried to make conversation with little success and then gave up, choosing instead to look forward to her homecoming, to telling Daniel all the good news from Edinburgh, and to opening those mysterious envelopes together.


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”.