The Primrose Line – Episode 49

Illustration by Ged Fay

“You gave us a fright, Martin. You’re the last person I expected to see by the woodshed!”

“I’m sorry. The taxi dropped me off about ten minutes ago and the driver didn’t want to hang about in these conditions. The shed was the only place to shelter. Anyway, it is my fault for not telephoning.

“It was my brother’s idea that I give everyone the surprise. He has made a quick recovery and insisted that I take the first available plane. But where’s Mummy? Is she not with you?”

“No, she’s with Mr Barry,” Adrienne said. “She went to visit him for the day and hasn’t come back yet. With this weather, we wonder if she may have to stay over with him, but at least we’ve got you now!”

It was a precise explanation, but it made Jim wince. He found himself surreptitiously searching Martin’s face for his reaction to the information.

Martin was one of the most level-headed men Jim had ever met, but one thing he had learned during the course of his long career was that even level-headed men were subject to emotions when it came to relationships.

Although the fuse might be longer, the result could often be the same.

The moment was broken by his phone ringing. It was Laura.

He didn’t know if that was a good or a bad thing. It would depend upon what she was about to say.


“Laura, where are you? Are you OK?”

“I’m fine. I just left it too late. Some sort of freak storm is coming in with blizzard conditions. It’s a total white-out, and driving is out of the question.

“I’m just going to hang on until the morning. It can’t last – it’s supposed to be spring, after all!”

Jim tried to keep his face passive and looked at the smiling man hugging his children a few feet from him.

Perhaps he could play it down a bit, blame everything on the weather. It wouldn’t be a total lie.

“I don’t suppose the kids are anywhere near so that I can speak to them? I can’t be too long in case my battery goes.”

“Of course.” Jim took a breath. “Yes, they’re close by. Actually, they’re with someone . . .”

“Who, Nicola?”

“I’m not sure I should say. It’s supposed to be a surprise.”

“Dad, don’t play games. I’ve been stuck on the motorway for the past hour while they cleared an accident; I’m about to spend the night in a travel hotel near Guildford and I’m missing the kids and Martin like crazy!”

“You’re what?”

“I’m missing the kids!”

“Not that. You’re in a hotel?”

“I’m not sure it warrants that title. Why, where did you think I was?”

“It doesn’t matter. Here, there’s someone here who might raise your spirits!”

Jim passed his phone to Martin. He spoke in French, which was just as well because Jim didn’t really want to know what was being said.

But judging from the look on Martin’s face, the conversation went well.

Adrienne was looking at him peculiarly.

“Grandpa, are you crying?”

“Snow’s getting in my eyes. Come on, you two, we’ve got fires to light!”

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.