The Primrose Line – Episode 51

Illustration by Ged Fay

The combination of bizarre weather conditions and the uplift in spirits that the consortium’s withdrawal gave everyone spelled success for the Primrose Line.

The snow vanished as quickly as it had come, spring bounced back with a vengeance and Billy Boswell walked the station platforms with extra authority.

Nicola bonded even more with Jim’s family. The day before Laura was to return to Switzerland the two of them stood in the garden of Bluebell Cottage, where they would have a view of the last train of the day returning from Corton to Abingly.

Martin, who had come under the spell of steam trains during his stay here, had insisted on one last ride with the children.

“So, are you all packed?” Nicola asked.

“Pretty much. Dad’s giving the car a check over for the trip to the airport tomorrow. It’s lucky that Martin’s going on ahead; he’s promised a ride on a real train for Emile so they can compare to the steam version, or we’d have a problem with the luggage.

“Adrienne’s not interested. She says steam trains are the real trains and the electric ones look like chickens with no heads!”

Nicola chuckled.

“I may have to take responsibility for that comparison, I’m afraid.”

“Do you know, I’m going to miss this place. I had no idea it would grow on me so much.”

“Some places are like that. My railway carriage has come to mean a lot to me. It’s been my comfort, shelter and refuge. It’ll be hard to leave.”

“You and Dad are very similar. It’s not just here I shall miss, it’s you, too. So will the kids.”

“Same here. A lot has happened. Let’s just think of it as au revoir rather than goodbye.”

“Guess you’ll have to learn some French in Toronto. When are you leaving – September?”

Nicola nodded.

“It seems a long way away. We have the whole summer to knock this garden into shape.”

“Then Dad will have to decide what to do with it. I think it’s causing him some problems.

“I don’t know if it’s me, but he seemed withdrawn these last few days.”

“I don’t suppose it’s easy for him having to say goodbye again.”

“We’ve been doing that for years, even when Mum was alive. This time, there’s something else.”

“Perhaps that’s my fault. I’ve been as honest as I can. I can’t make a promise I may not be able to keep.”

“I’ve no right to ask this but, do you love him?”

“Yes, very much. You’d think that would make it easier, wouldn’t you?”

“I don’t think love is ever easy. Look at what I’ve just been through, and I always knew I loved Martin. I made life difficult for myself for so little.

“Although, if Martin hadn’t been understanding and made me face my demons head-on, perhaps things would have taken longer to clear.

“There was a time when I thought life had passed me by. I seemed to be heading for a sunset; now I feel I’m heading for a new dawn. It’s exciting, especially with the project with the chalet!”

“He’s a good man, Martin. You’re lucky.”

“I’ve always known that. That’s what made these past few months so crazy. Why do we need proof of everything – why can’t we just accept good fortune?”

“This looks like a very private conversation, or can anyone join in?”

Neither of the women had heard Jim’s approach but both were grateful for the interruption.

He still had the knack of dragging normality out of its hiding place and making the world logical again.

“Has she gone through yet?”

“Any minute now. Listen.”

As they spoke the exhaust beat of a steam locomotive could be heard in the crisp air and then a dark plume of smoke began to appear over the tree line.

Laura raised her camera.

“I told the kids to sit on the right side of the train. I hope they remembered. Here she comes!”

Sir Martin Frobisher leaned gracefully into the bend in magnificent style.

The pistons hissed, the paintwork gleamed in the sunlight and the driver and fireman, enjoying a moment’s repose, waved their caps as the train glided effortlessly past on its way to Abingly.

“There they are!” Laura shouted and waved furiously to Martin and the children who responded with equal enthusiasm.

Then silence again.

“Makes you wonder if there ever was a hissing, smoking monster pulling carriages with yelling kids in!” Jim handed Laura his car keys. “Why don’t you go and meet them in Abingly? Have one last day together in a small English town before the glamour of Nyon beckons.”

“I might do that, if you trust me with your car?”

“Just watch out for speeding tractors.”

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.