The Wooden Heart – Episode 20

“Ash?” Calum asked. “Can you spare a couple of minutes?”

“Hmm,” Ash replied absently, her pencil flying across the sheet of paper as she tried to sketch the flowing pattern which was evolving in her mind’s eye.

Calum waited patiently in the gloom of the old building, watching as the large freehand drawing built up in deft strokes to a female figure, wrapped in a soft material, where the pattern complemented the relaxed shape of the model.

Tilting his head, he appreciated the artistry, the natural feel of the emergent garment. In a textile town, you learn to read drawings and their implications as easily as a book.

“You’re wasted in here,” he said quietly.

“What?” Ash laid down her pencil, looking critically at the result of her feverish sketching.

Picking up an eraser, she rubbed out part of the pattern, then set it down again with new and bolder pencil lines.

Somehow, the pattern became alive.

Then she blinked, as if registering Calum’s presence.

“Hi,” she said. “Sorry, I didn’t see you creeping up.”

“I didn’t creep,” he protested. “I strode up manfully and full of purpose.”

“Right,” she said, a smile on her lips. “My mistake. Is shuffling guiltily better than creep?”

Calum grinned.

“Whatever,” he said. “Ash, there’s something I want to talk about.”

He stopped as the door into the dyeworks room flew open and two of the other residents came in, arguing about a design feature.

“Drat,” he said. “How about I buy you a coffee?”

“How much do I contribute this time?” Ash sighed.

Calum was all heart and no wallet.

Smiling, she watched him running a quick mental check on his finances.

“I can manage if we go to Brenda’s café up the road, and not a posh one,” he told her sheepishly.

Ash stood.

“How could I refuse?” she asked.

They walked over the bridge and up into the scruffier part of town. This workmen’s café didn’t feature in any local tourism literature, but it served decent coffee and was usually quiet at this time of day.

Carrying their mugs to a clean table, they sat down.

“Right,” Ash began. “What is it?”

Calum turned bright pink.

“There’s someone I want you to meet,” he said.

Ash raised an enquiring eyebrow.


He fidgeted with his mug of coffee, his eyes on the table top.

“I spoke to a guy about your work,” he finally said. “He’s organising an exhibition. One of the big mills is sponsoring an open workshop where young designers can have some of their fashion work on display, but also a desk to work on, so that visitors can watch a design emerging.

“A guy I know has been charged with setting it up, and he wants to run it on a theme of Living Design, so that people can appreciate the process of creation as well as seeing the final garments,” he finished.

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.