The Life We Choose – Episode 81

At last, Sarah glanced at the clock.

“I’ll have to get away home,” she said. “Daniel won’t be far behind me, and we’re going over to the Junction tonight to see his parents. He hasn’t seen his father since the night he came looking for him at the pit.”

Mary Ellen nodded.

“Aye. He was one o’ the first that came up frae the Junction to offer help that night.” Her voice faltered slightly at the very memory. “And I’ve never seen a man sae distracted at the thought that his laddie might be doon there.”

Sarah nodded

“I told Daniel, and he said that his father had been there the night the men were found, waiting to help if he was needed.”

Mary Ellen smiled.

“Somethin’ good’s come oot o’ it a’, then.”

Home again, Sarah finished her letter to Aunt Bertha, telling her of Daniel’s work, his new opportunities and of their new home. Trying to describe it, she looked around the cosy room with its bright rugs on the flagged floor and Jess’s flower-sprigged curtains making splashes of colour against white walls.

Thanks to Mrs Brodie there was a proper table and chairs now, and her books were arranged neatly on a shelf by a fireside chair.

“A place for everything and everything in its place,” her father would have said approvingly.

She smiled to herself at the thought of his promise to visit with Aunt Bertha in the spring.

The letter finished at last, she coaxed the fire into fresh life and sat down for a moment in the fireside chair, letting the silence of the little house close around her. The silence – the thing she had missed so much, and which now, rediscovered, she treasured. Now there was time to think, to make plans with Daniel, to pause in the headlong rush that life had become.

When Daniel came in he found Sarah drowsing there, her hair like a bright waterfall in the firelight. He closed the door very quietly behind him and smiled. All he had ever wanted was here.

Later, once they had eaten, they listened to the rising wind outside and abandoned plans for a visit to the Junction until the following evening. Their new home in perfect order at last, they had time to talk for a while. Daniel spoke of the men who had survived in the old mine shaft.

“They were up ahead of the others, keen to get started, when the first fall came,” he told Sarah. “And when the flood came with the second fall, they heard the water coming and took shelter in a blind tunnel. It was a sort of recess in the coal face where the shot firers can shelter once they’ve laid their charges.” He paused and shook his head.

“And when the worst of the flood had passed them, old Maxton led them up into the old workings. The flood had holed the brick barrier that sealed them off. Old Maxton had worked there when he was just a laddie, you see, and when they got to the old mine shaft, that was when their luck turned.”

He stared into the fire for a while.

“A glint of daylight, that’s all it was. So they clung together for warmth, and they shouted until wee Abie Makin heard them.”

When Sarah looked at him, her eyes were tear-filled.

“Just think what could have happened,” she whispered.

“No, let’s celebrate what did happen by dancing round our lovely new kitchen.” He laughed, waltzing her round the room.

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”.