There’s Always Tomorrow – Episode 02

Sailesh Thakrar © The main characters from the story Illustration: Sailesh Thakrar

Getting tired of waiting, Hamish leaped out, sniffed the air and barked. 

He might either have been announcing his arrival or giving instructions to the pack. 

The driver’s door was knocked open, and a huge Rottweiler clambered down to stretch luxuriously after the cramped journey, followed by an ancient collie cross and a small dog of uncertain breed. 

Hamish sniffed the air. More importantly, he sniffed food. 

He trotted over to the humans, followed by the Rottweiler and the other dogs. 

“It’s all right,” Helen said quickly. “Tanya is soft as butter. No need to be scared.” 

“Scared?” The man smiled. “I’ve had worse things to scare me than a big dog.” 

He clicked his finger and thumb together. Tanya’s ears pricked, then she eased forward, sniffing the hand which was offered to her. 

“She’s a rescue dog,” Helen explained. “They all are. Hamish! Come here!” 

The little Westie had trotted past the man’s legs and into the house, from which there came a smell of homemade soup. 

“I like a dog who knows his mind.” The man laughed. “It’s a miserable day and your cottage will be cold because it’s been empty, so why not come in for soup and a cup of tea? 

“If you do, I’ll use your key to go into your cottage and switch on the heating.” 

Helen was staring at Tanya, who was grunting in pleasure as the man’s hand scratched her neck. 

“I don’t believe it,” she said. “She was mistreated by her previous owner and she’s scared of strangers, especially men.” 

The man smiled. 

“I’m not a stranger,” he pointed out. “I’m your next-door neighbour. My name’s Larry. 

“Now, if you’re happy for me to switch your heating on, come out of the rain.” 

This wasn’t what she wanted. She wanted to hide, not to be helped. 

“Your dogs have voted,” Larry said gently. “All of them, apart from this big soft lump.” 

He ruffled the hair along Tanya’s back and she wriggled ecstatically. 

“But I can’t just invade you,” Helen protested. “Not with four dogs and three cats in the van. Are you sure?” 

“I’m sure,” he replied. “Seven rescue animals? What’s your name? It’s not St Francis of Assisi, by any chance?” 

A squall of wind sent rain drops swirling into the doorway and over both of them. 

Helen shivered. Then, for the first time in many months, the beginnings of a smile appeared on her face. 

“Not saintly,” she told him. “I’m just plain Helen Malcolm of Baschurch – which is a little village near Shrewsbury.” 

Larry took his hand from Tanya and held it out. 

“Well, Helen Malcolm of Baschurch, you’re a long way from home. Welcome to Scotland. Go in and warm yourself; I’ll be back in a minute.” 

Lorna Williamson tidied away the remains of her breakfast, rinsed the worst off her dishes and put them into her dishwasher. 

She glanced out of her kitchen window, watching the long grass of her back garden flatten under another blast of wind. 

It wailed round her kitchen door, then her window rattled with rain again. 

Time for action, she thought. This was the first day of the rest of her life, and she wasn’t going to spend it indoors, hiding from the sound of the storm outside. 

This wild weather would be part and parcel of the new life she had chosen, far away from big cities and their crowded roads. 

It was the first challenge of her new start. 

Throughout her working life, if she had found herself facing a challenge, she had never rested until she had brought it under control and dealt with it. 

Lorna sighed. As head teacher of a primary school in one of the roughest areas of Manchester, there had been no choice. 

Her job had been to lead, to be fearless and to handle anything that came through her door, be it wild kids, argumentative parents or frowning school inspectors. 

Therefore, she wouldn’t let a shower of rain stop her from surveying her new territory, letting the wind blow the last shreds of work worries from her mind. 

Lorna was ready for the next chapter in her life: the retirement she had always dreamed she would have, to the peace and quiet of the countryside. 

To be continued…

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