The Primrose Line – Episode 54

Illustration by Ged Fay

“I seem to be spending my whole retirement coming and going from airports. Where did that half-year go?”

“In that garden of yours, mainly. I’m not sorry to be taking a break from it. You should, too. Go and see Laura and the family.”

“More airports, hellos . . . and then the goodbyes!”

“We may have to get used to it.”

Despite the summer, nothing had changed. The next month would decide.

“Time to go. Can we do this rationally?”

“Of course we can. Mind over matter.”

“We’d better make it quick, then. I’ve had a wonderful summer, Jim, one I’ll never forget.”

“Neither shall I. And the garden, well, I still can’t get over what you’ve done.”

“What we’ve done. Remember the deal: texts only, except in emergency. I’d find your voice difficult to deal with.

“Rendezvous, the twentieth of October, the George Hotel, Abingly, at about four o’clock, allowing for the vagaries of airlines.”

“It’s a date.”

“It’ll make up for that one I never kept that time all those years ago.”

They kissed goodbye. With a wave Nicola disappeared into the crowd.

Summer was over.

*  *  *  *

Jim walked along Abingly’s main street under a blue sky. The summer had been glorious and seemed reluctant to part, although a fresh October breeze gently scudded the pavement.

The time was ten past four and he was late. It had taken him longer to walk from the house than he’d thought, although he hadn’t hurried.

This was not a day to hurry. This was a day to stay calm, whatever the outcome.

He turned into the George and went into the bar, which was deserted. After the sun it was gloomy in here.

Maybe this hadn’t been such a good idea. Maybe he’d been looking forward to this day more than he’d cared to admit and would find it difficult to deal with disappointment.

Suddenly the Swiss back-up seemed less solid as a lifeline.

He ordered a beer and went to the same corner table where he’d first seen her. If you were going to make a romantic rendezvous there was no sense in skipping the finer points.

After a while he began to fidget. He opened his phone and looked at the messages of the last month, her pictures and his replies.

His responses showed a constant theme – that the humble progress of the garden was not quite in the same league as the spectacle Toronto offered.

So engrossed did he become that it was a second or two before he sensed someone standing in front of him.

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.