The Primrose Line – Episode 35

Illustration by Ged Fay

Over the next few days the weather turned colder and the forecast was for sleet showers.

Jim was out in the garden sawing logs from the dead apple tree he’d cut down when Laura drew up in a hired car.

“Like it? It’s mine for a week.” She climbed out.

Jim stopped sawing.

“I told you you could borrow mine rather than waste money on hire cars.”

Laura looked at the thirteen-year-old French car her father loved and lavished so much care – and expense – upon.

“Dad, that’s a family heirloom. I’d be scared to death that I’d scratch it!”

“Probably wouldn’t look too good parked in Mr Barry’s drive, either.” Jim bit his tongue immediately the remark was out.

“It won’t be parked there for long.”

In the biting wind that was sweeping through the garden their eyes met.

There were so many elements from long ago in that look.

The little girl coming home from school, worried about the homework she hadn’t fully understood and knowing that he or her mother would be there to explain it more clearly; the excitement of the first disco when he’d known she was beginning to carve out her own life.

Then the total incomprehension of the day of the funeral, when he’d had to pull out every last ounce of strength to cope with the emotions charging through them both.

There were also the later years, as she’d presented him with the grandchildren who’d come to mean so much, even at a distance.

But now Jim spotted something else, something that hadn’t been there when she’d first arrived. It was resolution.

Maybe she was right. The only way to lay this ghost from the past which threatened the future was to face it head-on and put it firmly in its place.

He should have more confidence in her ability to deal with this challenge.

Admitting it existed was half the battle. It wasn’t for him to point out the potential pitfalls to someone who knew them better than he did.


“Eh? Sorry, love.”

“You had a funny look on your face.”

He chuckled.

“Just one of those moments, when you see something more clearly without really trying.”

“Dad, it’ll be all right.”

“Yes, I know it will.”

“Where are the kids?”

“Emile is helping me on kindling-wood duty, while Adrienne has discovered Miss Gurdon’s library.

“Wall-to-wall shelves that Dad custom-built for her. She collected books all her life. No TV for my old teacher.”

Laura smiled.

“You seem to be following in her footsteps.”

“Yes, I suppose I am. Technology doesn’t seem to fit here.”

“So attachments are being formed, Dad? You’re not making this easy.”

“I’m not, am I?” Jim looked around. “Only, there’s something here that grows on you. You felt it, too, when you said it reminded you of the old mountain chalets.”

“Maybe it’s Grandad’s spirit. Yours, too. You helped him build this house, didn’t you?”

“As much as a child can help his father.”

“You didn’t really know Miss Gurdon well.”

“No, I was a pupil in the school where she taught. Nothing more.”

“Yet she left this house to you?”

“Yep. No matter how hard I try I can’t come up with the answer to that.”

“It’s funny. This place, and all around here, is a part of your life that I know nothing about. I feel like an outsider looking in on an unknown past.

“Something tells me that the answer to a lot of questions lies somewhere in this house. It would be nice to find it before you sell . . . if you sell.”

Laura went to park the car next to Jim’s.

Emile appeared.

“That’s all the wood I can find, Grandpa.”

Jim looked into the wheelbarrow.

“Might need a bit more than that if this cold snap continues. Let’s go up to Corton Wood; there’s bound to be a lot around there.

“You go on ahead, son. I’ll stack these logs and join you in a minute.”

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.