The Wooden Heart – Episode 31

It had been a truly wonderful day, Gabrielle thought. One of the happiest days she had known since the terrible accident which had robbed her of her career.

It had been a day of drifting, of feeling that friendship had quietly changed into something deeper. Although Stephen had left, she still didn’t want the day to end.

Then the doorbell rang.

She was so lost in thought that the sudden noise startled her.

Franz barked once: his usual announcement that something had happened which needed attention from his human. For a dog, he was good at delegation, she thought wryly.

Rising from her chair, she hurried to the front door, then opened it to find a young couple standing on the path outside.

It was a tall young man with fair hair, and the beautiful dark young woman she knew as Stephen’s daughter.

For a moment, the three of them stared uncertainly at each other.

“Hello, Ash,” Gabrielle said. “It’s good to see you. And you must be Calum. Come in.”

As Ash hesitated, Gabrielle saw the lad’s hand reach gently to hold her back.

“Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea?” he said quietly. “Maybe it’s better to stay here.”

Gabrielle frowned. Behind her, Franz was now acting out his role as fierce guard dog at the sound of the strange voice.

It was a false front, she knew. Let him out and he would soon roll on to his back to have his tummy tickled.

“What is it?” she said. “Can I help?”

The young couple exchanged embarrassed glances.

“That was the general idea,” Ash said. “Now we’re scared it’s cheeky to ask when we scarcely know you.”

The young lad coloured.

“It’s my fault,” he said. “My sister Ailish is two weeks from taking her advanced violin exams. Her music teacher has collapsed and is in hospital.”

“And I know you were once a violinist,” Ash added. “So we wondered if you could possibly take Ailish in and give her some tuition before her exam?”

Gabrielle swayed as if struck, then steadied herself against the door frame. In the far distance, she heard Franz’s barking reach a crescendo.

How could they know, she thought. The younger generation – their whole instinct was to be innocent and direct. They had no idea what they were asking.

She struggled against the rising panic that her dizziness was turning into a faint. She fought for control.

“You couldn’t possibly have asked me for anything worse,” she said, her lips struggling to frame the words. “I can no longer bear to have anything to do with music.

“I’m sorry, but what you ask is impossible. Quite impossible.”

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.