The Primrose Line – Episode 25

Illustration by Ged Fay

David was outside on the platform when Jim Connaught walked towards him.

“Hi, David, what a coincidence. Thought I’d pop along and see how your mum’s doing.”

“She’s fine. Regretting her carelessness, perhaps.”

“I can’t help feeling a bit guilty, but I guess accidents will happen.”

“Some can be avoided. Perhaps this was one of them.”

There was an edge to David’s voice.

“Look, Mr Connaught, we don’t know each other well, and I have to accept the fact that you’re a part of my mother’s life I never knew existed.

“Maybe she’d even forgotten about it herself until this chance crossing of paths.

“You’ll have to excuse me if I speak a little frankly and tell you that since you came along she’s not the same person. You seem to be confusing her.

“Maybe it’s just a harmless grasp at the past – maybe I’d do the same thing at her age and in her position. I don’t know.”

He looked challengingly at the older man.

“What I do know is that I shall do everything I can to protect her from making rash and perhaps unwise decisions. Do I make myself clear?”

The question was politely framed but there could be no mistaking its meaning.

Jim Connaught knew he was being warned off pursuing any kind of relationship other than platonic with David’s mother . . .

He knocked on Nicola’s door, half-opening it at the same time.

“Can I come in?”

“Of course.” Nicola dismissed her heart skipping the proverbial beat.

“Just thought I’d come and check on you. How’s the ankle?”

“It’s fine; well, nearly. Everyone’s fussing so much, but thanks, anyway. Please, sit down. Tea?”

“Thanks, but I’d better not stop. I’ve just met David and had a little chat with him. Or rather, he had a little chat with me.”

Nicola waited, analysing the information. There was something slightly different about him.

What had David said?

She tried to play it lightly.

“Anything I should know about?”

“I’m not sure. If I were younger I suppose I might be offended, or even flattered, depending upon my true intentions with regard to you!”

“Oh, Jim, no, I can’t believe it! What did he say?”

Jim held up his hands with a grin.

“No, no, don’t take it out on David. He’s merely looking at things at face value.

“I can’t blame him. I did it myself once with my own daughter when I didn’t approve of the company she was keeping.

“It got the desired result, even the right one, but I can’t help wondering if I got it wrong.

“If she’d worked it out for herself the foundations would have been more solid and permanent, and when the past reared its ugly head again, as it invariably does, she would have coped with it more easily.”

“Is this what we talked about at lunch the other day, the old boyfriend walking back into her life?”

He nodded.

“And my son is obviously looking at it from a similar point of view.”

“It would appear so. In a way, David’s done me a favour, stopped me from repeating my mistake when she comes over soon. She’s certainly adult enough to know what’s in her own heart. I must keep out of it.”

“She may find your distance from her problem disconcerting.”

“She may.”

“Daughters never stop needing their father’s advice, no matter how much it may seem to the contrary. Where does all this leave us?”

“As far as I’m concerned nothing has changed.”

“Do you still want my help with the garden?”

“I’ll understand if you’d rather not in the light of these developments.”

“That’s not what I asked,” she said.

“I don’t want to be the cause of a rift between you and David.”

She sighed.

“He should know that I will not compromise my independence, either here or in Canada. If he’s forgotten that or is choosing to ignore it this might be a good time to remind him.”

Jim smiled.

“Same old Nicola, carrying the banner for justice!”

“Not so much of the ‘old’, please! As far as I’m concerned our arrangement still stands, despite the children being difficult.”

“Put like that it seems like a problem shared.”

“And we all know what they say about shared problems being easier to handle.”

“I’m not sure I subscribe to that theory but I’m willing to put it to the test. When shall we start?”

“As soon as my ankle’s better?”

Jim nodded in agreement.

“Could be an interesting summer,” he said.

“Could be,” Nicola replied, smiling. “Could well be.”

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.