The Primrose Line – Episode 38

Illustration by Ged Fay

The icy wind took full advantage of Abingly’s broad main street to seek out every crevice. Laura, Adrienne and Emile hurried along with their heads down, missing the warmth of the car they’d just left.

“This is like home, when La Bise blows down from the Rhone valley and freezes everyone along the lake. Do they have a name for winds here?” Emile asked, teeth chattering.

“I think this is just a good old-fashioned north wind coming down from the Arctic,” his mother replied. “Either way, it’s just as cold. It even looks as if it could snow.

“It’s a pity Nicola couldn’t make it this morning rather than the end of the afternoon, but I suppose there must be a lot to prepare for if you expect crowds of visitors.”

“I wonder why Grandpa didn’t want to come with us. You’d think he’d jump at a chance to see his girlfriend.”

“Adrienne, I don’t think you should refer to Nicola as Grandpa’s girlfriend.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s impolite, that’s why,” Emile said. He was intolerant of soppy conversations and didn’t want his sister elaborating her opinions on a subject she seemed more at ease with than he was.

“More importantly, it’s nobody’s business but their own,” Laura said.

But Adrienne wasn’t so easily diverted.

“I thought Grandpa seemed funny this morning, not his usual self.”

Laura stopped and looked at her daughter.

“Why do you say that?”

She felt guilty as she recalled their conversation of yesterday.

No matter what she said, or how she tried to justify her planned visit to Sean, her father couldn’t help viewing it in the context of the past.

He didn’t see that she had moved on from those days. She couldn’t blame him, because she’d only just realised it herself.

Coming here had been the catharsis she’d needed. Every day since her arrival she’d seen her predicament more objectively.

The threat her old boyfriend had represented seemed absurd, and as for temptation, well, that was simply embarrassing.

Having Martin so far away had made her see how much she loved and missed him; missed living the dream they had built. He was her soulmate.

It wasn’t confusing any more.

Sean walking into the hotel that day had even done some good in causing her to reflect upon her cosy routine and aspirations.

Whatever Sean’s motives, the mini-earthquake his visit had caused had found the foundations perfectly capable of coping.

Even this weather reminded her of Martin. On the night when he’d proposed to her in the candlelight in the mountain chalet the snow had been falling outside.

She couldn’t wait to get back to him.

“I don’t know,” Adrienne said, breaking into her thoughts. “Grandpa seemed quiet, as though he had something on his mind.”

“I expect it was that book you found for him last night,” Emile said.

“What book?” Laura asked, still distracted.

“Some diary of Miss Gurdon’s telling the history of Bluebell Cottage. We said he might find out why she left the house to him.”

He stopped talking as a man went past them and entered the butcher’s shop.

“That’s him!”

“That’s who?”

“The man who came out of the wood when I found the model coal tender.”

“Oh? That’s a coincidence.”

“It’s suspicious, if you ask me. And what’s in that bag he’s carrying? He’s a poacher, I reckon, or perhaps he’s following us and has gone in there because he knows I’ve spotted him!”

“Mummy, I don’t like the idea of a man following us.” Adrienne frowned.

“Of course he’s not following us. Don’t listen to your brother. Control your imagination, Emile, you’re frightening your sister.

“Now, let’s get a move on or it’ll be dark before we get to Nicola’s place!”

Emile’s eyes lingered on the shop window.

“It looks as though he and the butcher are having an argument!”

“Just come, Emile. When you grow up you can be a detective like Grandpa was – but not today!”

They were getting near the station and Laura’s steps faltered as she faced the imminent meeting with someone who might feasibly be stepping into her mother’s shoes.

She held her head up. On that subject she had an opinion. More importantly, she had reached an intractable decision.

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.