The Wooden Heart – Episode 40

“He’s up to something,” Ash muttered. “He’s been in that workshop all last week, only coming out to eat and sleep. Has he mentioned anything to you?”

Calum shook his head.

“Not really,” he replied. “We’re too busy.”

His face broke into a broad grin.

“We communicate by grunts – it’s a man thing. But he’s almost got that old Austin 7 finished. He’s done a brilliant job.”

Ash frowned. She had her own worries. Not least that she had almost used up the two weeks given to her by Turner Associates, and was no nearer making up her mind.

She was no fool: a job in a good London design consultancy was every young designer’s dream. James Turner had offered her exactly that on a plate.

Her eyes drifted to Calum, then the distant workshop. Why were decisions never easy? Why did real life always complicate things?

Calum watched, made edgy by her frown.

“Penny for your thoughts,” he said, trying to keep his voice light.

“You can’t afford them,” she replied.

“It’s that London job, isn’t it?”

Ash nodded.

“Everything’s so complicated,” she said.

Calum reached across to take her hand.

“No, it isn’t,” he said. “You have talent to burn. That’s why they want to add you to their stable of young designers. Over the next few years down there, you could build a career to set yourself up for life.”

“Or disappear into the hundreds of young wannabes who migrate to London with high hopes and are never heard of again?”

“Not you, Ash. I have faith in you.”

Believe in yourself, James Turner had told her. But he was talking about having courage should she turn down his offer and strike out on her own, taking a totally different path with a higher risk of failure.

It was so much easier being a student, when all you had to do was dream.

“What would you really like to do?” Calum asked. “Forget all the other stuff that’s bogging you down.”

Ash’s temper flared.

“Maybe the other stuff is more important to me than the job,” she snapped.

Calum winced.

“Then it shouldn’t be,” he replied. “Better to try and fail than never to try at all. Don’t sacrifice yourself and regret it for the rest of your life.”

Ash’s surge of temper died and she looked at Calum with new respect.

“And what about us, if I go to London?” she asked.

His eyes were steady, no longer sparkling.

“I will find a job in London,” he answered. “But only if you want me there. If not, then I can visit when I raise the money.”

She gripped his hand tightly.

“London would destroy you,” she said intensely. “You belong here, working as a craftsman, building your own business.”

“And you belong in London,” he said bleakly. “Building your career.”

They stared at each other, feeling closer than ever before, but feeling anguish, too, because what each had said defined the situation facing them.

For Calum, everything argued that he should stay on up here in the Borders, making a living as her grandfather had done from the same set of tools.

Whereas she should snap up the chance of a lifetime, and she knew that she had the drive as well as the talent to be successful in London.

But what would happen to them? How would their love survive if they were hundreds of miles apart?

She lifted his hand to her lips and kissed it.

“I want it all,” she said. “I want the job, and I want you, too. But not by destroying you.”

She watched him force a smile.

“I don’t destroy easy,” he said lightly.

She shook her head.

“There has to be a way where nobody’s hurt,” she replied.

But in her heart, she knew that wasn’t true.

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.