The Primrose Line – Episode 45

Illustration by Ged Fay

Laura started the car as Jim slammed the door shut for her, shivering in the early morning cold.

“This seems a bit weird,” she said.

“Second thoughts?”

“Third and fourth as well. It’d be so easy to walk back into the house.”

“You can do that later tonight, with your demons laid to rest once and for all. It’s a good compromise, just visiting for the day.”

“You’re seeing it more from my point of view than I am myself. I don’t know whether to give you a hug or throw something at you for being so understanding.”

“It’s good to know some things never change.”

“Seriously, Dad . . .”

“Seriously, Laura, I’m seeing different perspectives on several things at the moment.”

“Does this have something to do with why you were so late back last night?” she teased.


“Looks like we’re all going to have a lot to talk about soon.”

“Let’s cross one bridge at a time. You get yourself to Swanley and back safely. Easter week is busy on the roads.”

“I’ll just be one more.”

Jim shook his head.

“The forecast is not good, either, with snow coming in from Europe. Kent could be the first hit, so don’t leave it too late before you start back tonight.”

“Dad, it’s March!”

“Could be a white Easter. Now, off you go, you’re wasting time.”

“I feel like I’m deserting the kids.”

“They’ll survive. Besides, they’re looking forward to helping with the railway preparations. Look, they’re at the bedroom window.”

Laura waved frantically at Adrienne and Emile, who waved enthusiastically back.

“See you later, Dad.”

She let the clutch in fiercely and the car sped away, as though eager to be part of a mischievous mission.

Laura could hardly believe how easy it had been as she followed the satnav from the motorway to the address Sean Barry had given her.

The children had not made a fuss about her trip, but the bigger surprise was her father’s acceptance.

Perhaps the fact that it was to be just a day’s visit had put his mind more at rest. Maybe he’d finally seen that she meant business where her old boyfriend was concerned.

He seemed easier with himself. Laura wondered if he’d made a decision about his future and Bluebell Cottage.

If that was the case perhaps she should be preparing herself for some of those “different perspectives” he’d alluded to as she left. She liked Nicola, but all of this was a bit out of the blue.

At the back of her mind was the worst-case scenario – that after so many years of loneliness, he might be deluding himself. She could understand where David, Nicola’s son, was coming from, even if she was trying to rise above such negative reflections herself.

Of course, there was another explanation for his new sympathy with her situation, one that she was loath to admit.

Simply that, with so much excitement in his life, her problems were no longer a priority for him.

The next few hours would tell if she was confident enough to stand strong in her defence of all that she’d created, and make her marriage with Martin even more meaningful.

For the first time in her life Laura felt alone.

The country road became a country lane as the satnav doggedly imparted its information.

Above, a leaden sky seemed to turn more sombre and snow from the night before lingered in the bare hedgerows and ditches.

Laura stopped the car. The quiet hum from the engine was the only sound in the winter landscape. Nyon, with its lights and riches, seemed light years away.

A slight panic seized her as she looked for a place to turn around, and she saw the sign in the hedge.

Laccombe Manor, 500 yards.

To be so near and then turn back seemed an act of cowardice. Laura put the car into gear and drove forward.

After a few minutes the satnav smugly told her that she had arrived at her destination. And what a destination.

Her mind’s eye had drawn many imaginary pictures of Sean’s home, but the wrought-iron gates and tree-lined drive that wound towards the house had not figured in them.

The gates, acting on automatic sensor, opened with dignified slowness, as though offering her one last chance to reflect upon her decision to continue.

Laura tried to dismiss her qualms and touched the accelerator. The car leaped forward on tarmac so smooth it seemed part of the irresistible invitation.

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.