The Primrose Line – Episode 52

Illustration by Ged Fay

Jim and Nicola were alone.

“So, now we start on the garden. All that’s been happening is a bit like a jigsaw coming together.”

“There’s still the final pieces.”

“Jim, we said we’d enjoy summer together. If we ponder over the future too much it’ll colour the present.”

“Oh, Nicola, why does your philosophy always hit the nail on the head?”

She laughed.

“Feminine logic! I could start to do a few things around here tomorrow while you’re on your airport run, if you like?”

“That’d be great. I’ve got used to having people around me. And there’s something else.”


“Miss Gurdon’s diary I told you about. I’d like you to read it.”

“Jim, that’s private, a family thing.”

“It clears up a lot of questions, some I’ve never even asked. It would help me to have a second opinion on what it contains. For me, it’s momentous but, then, maybe I’m seeing something that isn’t there!”

“I’ll do that while you’re at the airport, then. I could even read it here and make us a little supper for when you get back.” Nicola felt a flush come to her face.

“I’d like that. It’s a book that’s never left this house. It belongs here. Can you humour this sentimental old fool?”

Their eyes met.

“Gladly,” she said.

*  *  *  *

At the airport it was time to say goodbye. Jim shook hands with Martin, then gave Laura a hug that lingered longer than usual.

“Dad, you’ve always told me to keep these moments as light as possible!”

“You’re right, I’m forgetting my own rules – must be getting old!”

“You may age but I can’t imagine you ever getting old. Neither can these two,” Laura said, looking at the children.

“When are you coming back to Switzerland, Grandpa?” Adrienne asked.

“When I’ve sorted everything out and got the garden looking grand.”

“Will you stay for good next time, Grandpa?”

“Emile, I can’t answer that at the moment, because I can’t make up my mind if I want to live in England or Switzerland.”

Jim felt better for answering as honestly as he could and the children seemed to appreciate his dilemma. Emile nodded.

“I understand that. We don’t have railways like the Primrose Line or those fantastic steam engines.”

“I think it all depends on the Railway Lady. If Grandpa marries her he’ll stay in England . . .”

“And if he doesn’t?”

“Then he’ll be sad and he’ll come to us for cheering up.”

Jim laughed.

“Well, if anyone can do it, you two can, that’s for sure. See? I thought I was going to be sad because of this goodbye but I’m not sad at all because you’ve made me laugh, and that’s the way it should be.

“Now, off you all go, and we’ll see each other as soon as we can.”

Laura gave him a last hug.

“Follow your heart, Dad,” she murmured, as she followed her family towards Security.

The lights of Bluebell Cottage beckoned as Jim pulled up and got out of the car.

The air was cool with the hint of frost but now contained the inexorable hint of spring. It was fragrant with the perfume of fresh life and new beginnings.

Nicola was in the kitchen where a different fragrance assailed his nostrils.

She turned. There was a moment of awkwardness as their relationship posed a sudden question.

“Is that what I think it is?” Jim broke the spell.

“That depends.”

“My first introduction to coq au vin was, believe it or not, at a small hotel in Penrith. They must have had a French chef.

“I’ve never forgotten that meal, although Helen and I were celebrating our twentieth wedding anniversary, so maybe that’s why I remember it.”

Nicola looked mortified.

“I didn’t mean to . . .”

He went to her and put his arms around her. Suddenly, the unspoken question from seconds ago seemed absurd.

They held each other in the silence of the kitchen with the only sound coming from a blackbird in the garden heralding the end of a long winter.

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.