The Primrose Line – Episode 19

Illustration by Ged Fay

The good weather continued.

David emerged from the small bedroom and stretched. His mother was unmoved by the gesture.

“I suppose you’re used to bigger rooms in Canada. You’re going to tell me you ache all over and can’t understand how I can live in such cramped quarters!”

He grinned.

“Not at all. It’s really quite cosy. You just have to get used to iron monsters hissing steam at you as an alarm clock!”

“Don’t exaggerate. That was just one engine moving early this morning to go for maintenance.”

David went to the tiny kitchen and began making coffee. He became serious.

“We have to talk, Mum. Your future is uncertain.”

“David, you don’t have to tell me that. I’ve told you, I need to think.”

He held up his hands.

“OK, no pressure. What shall we do this week?”

“I’m working at the post office in the mornings.”

“So we’ll have afternoons together. Don’t forget I’m only here for a short while.”

She hadn’t thought about it. That she might be losing time with her son for a horticultural adventure with an old boyfriend made her ashamed.

“Sorry, too much going on in my normally quiet world. Of course we’ll make the most of your time, but I’ve promised to meet Jim Connaught this afternoon.”

She tried to make her voice airy, but her son’s quizzical look made her feel like a schoolgirl seeking to justify herself.

“So he is an old boyfriend?”

“He’s an old friend in need of some gardening help that I can give, that’s all. Now, I must be going!”

Nicola walked away quickly. This was ridiculous. She was reacting like an infatuated teenager.

She needed to get these feelings into perspective when she met Jim later.

She began planning a speech in her head, how she would tell him gently but firmly that what once was could never be again. He would understand.

In the post office she headed for her cubicle. This would help – good, old-fashioned routine.

John Hendon, who had run the business in a semi-retired capacity for many years, came through from the back. She saw straight away that he was not his usual, jovial self.

“Good morning, Nicola, nice to have you back. But I’m not sure for how long. You’ll see a letter on your desk. It’s not good news.

“No good beating about the bush. It looks like Abingly post office is a victim of the post office restructuring programme – they’re closing us down!”

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.