The Life We Choose – Episode 67

With just the ticking of the clock for company and the place empty of Jess’s chatter and laughter, Sarah felt the sudden need for company.

“Come away in, henny. Ye’re just in time for a wee bite o’ somethin’ wi’ Pate and me.”

Mary Ellen laid an extra plate on the table.

Sarah ate little, but talked over Jess’s plans with her companions.

“I knew I could depend on Mrs MacAndrew.” Mary Ellen smiled.

Plans were made there and then for what Mary Ellen called “the packin’ up”. Sarah’s spirits had risen by the time she took her leave. Outside, the sky had cleared from morning gloom and a timid sun had broken through the clouds. The air was sharp and clean.

Sarah took a deep breath and had a sudden unwillingness to imprison herself again in an empty house.

Turning away in the opposite direction, her steps quickened until she was clear of the village and all that lay ahead of her were frost-spangled fields. There was a chill wind in her face, but it made her feel alive and able to think things through for herself.

For the first time since she’d come home, she had the silence she craved, not the sad silence of her little house with a sense of loss that made her weep.
In her haste she hadn’t chosen any particular path, and as she climbed a rise in the ground, she realised with a start that she was coming up over the Gowan Bank. At the crest of the hill, she could just see, in the distance, Jess and Sandy’s cottage.

A plume of smoke rose from the chimney, and from the chimney of the empty half of the cottage which Jess had insisted would be her new home. A fire burning in the hearth – a welcome for her and for Daniel. Sarah’s eyes misted over at the very thought.

She stopped for a moment, then glanced down at the glint of the stream as it flowed past the clump of alders. Somehow, her steps had led her here, her tumbling thoughts urging her to turn away from the place where thoughts of Daniel would cause her more pain.

Flinching at the chill of a strengthening wind, she turned towards the clump of leafless trees.

As she did, there was a sudden movement as a man stepped out from their shelter. He was unshaven, his cap pulled down over his eyes. A knapsack lay by his feet.

“Sarah,” he said, holding out his hand. After a heartbeat of fear, the sound of his voice threw her into his arms. It was Daniel.

As she clung to him beneath the leafless alders, time stood still. Sarah cried and Daniel kissed away her tears, smoothed her windblown hair back from her face, and when she tried to speak, put a finger on her lips.

“Hush, Sarah,” he said, gathering her into his arms again and holding her so close that she could feel the beating of his heart. “We need no words here. In our special place.”

He took her hand and gently kissed her fingertips.

Sarah looked up at him and smiled, and there they stood, entwined, until the light began to fade and the first flakes of winter snow drifted down through the leafless branches of the trees.

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”.