There’s Always Tomorrow – Episode 07

The main characters from the story Illustration: Sailesh Thakrar

 Helen was putting away the breakfast dishes when there was a knock at her cottage door. 

She arrived there in the midst of her four dogs, Hamish’s shrill yipping setting off Zack and Tess, the old sheepdog. 

Holding them back with her leg, she opened the door to find Larry standing outside. 

The dogs brushed past her and took turns at jumping up at him. 

“Whoa!” Larry exclaimed. 

He looked up, grinning. 

“I wouldn’t give burglars a chance with this lot.” 

“Judging by you, they’d be licked to death.” Helen sighed, thinking again that it was remarkable how her rescue dogs had adopted him almost instantly. 

She felt a pang of envy. 

“A cup of tea?” she asked. 

Larry glanced at his watch. 

“Why not? There’s just enough time.” 

“Come in.” 

“We can drink it quickly,” he said. “We’ve half an hour, tops. I’ve made an appointment for us.” 

Helen paused. She liked it here; she liked the solitude. Without appointments. 

“An appointment with whom?” she asked. 

“That’s a secret.” 

“An appointment about what?” she tried. 

“Another secret.” 

“I don’t like secrets,” she warned. 

“This is different. It’s the start of the tomorrow I promised you.” 

Helen led the way to the kitchen. Her three old tabby cats looked up, studied the visitor, then ignored him. 

Maybe cats were more demanding, Helen thought.  

It was good to know she hadn’t been entirely abandoned by her tribe. 

Bringing in the tea, she found Larry in an armchair with Hamish on his lap, Zack trying to join him and Tanya already sitting at the side of the chair. 

Tess was watching them, her ragged tail sweeping slowly from side to side. 

“Now you’ve stolen all of them,” she mourned. 

“They sense something’s in the offing.” He laughed. “Animals read moods and they’re picking up on our excitement.” 

He lifted Hamish from his lap and set him down, then gently pushed back Zack, who was trying to claim the vacated place. 

Taking the mug from her, he looked up. 

“Do you know anything of this area? Its history?” 

“All I know is that it is the middle of nowhere, and I came here to find peace.” 

“You’ll find peace aplenty,” Larry said quietly. “But only after you stop hiding away.  

“If this surprise doesn’t work, we’ll become a pair of Trappist monks.” 

“And if it does work?” 

His smile reappeared. 

“Then we try more of the same treatment.” He glanced at his watch. “Let’s drink up. Time’s passing.” 

Within a few minutes they were climbing into Helen’s old van, dogs in the back and humans in the front. 

“Where to?” Helen asked. 

“Exit left and head for the sea,” Larry replied. 

“But I can’t see the sea,” Helen protested. 

“Turn left and you will,” Larry replied cheerfully. 

Lorna’s knees were killing her, and her back felt as if it would never straighten without snapping. 

She continued on, using the hedge trimmers to cut down the knee-high ragged grass and weeds which had once been a lawn. 

Behind her, there was the steady noise of Wullie’s fork driving into the weed-drowned flower-beds, then the grunt as he bent to lift the weeds, and the scatter of soil being shaken off. 

These noises slowed down, then stopped. 

She heard him approach, but the voice above her head still made her jump. 

“Ye’re daen’ it a’ wrong.” Wullie sighed. “Ye should be tackling it like a fairmer – no’ like this.” 

Lorna risked straightening. It hurt. 

“And how would a farmer tackle it?” she demanded, refusing to show that she was on her last reserves. 

“By thinking ahead,” Wullie clarified. “Help me clear the flower-beds so we can plant new shrubs and roses to let their roots settle for growth with the spring. 

“We’ll cut back the grass while we’re waiting for the last frosts to go – but not by usin’ a pair of old blunt hand shears that chew the stems.” 

“These shears were my dad’s,” Lorna retorted. 

“Then he’d be ashamed of them,” Wullie replied. “When were they last sharpened? Or oiled?” 

“I don’t know,” she admitted. “But I want to tidy the lawns now.  

“They’re what I see through my windows and it depresses me. They make the cottage look uncared for. 

“Anyway, what do you know about how a farmer thinks?” 

“I was one,” Wullie said. “Leave the grass tae me. I can borrow Jim Scobie’s petrol strimmer – that will eat up rough work like this. 

“Cut this rubbish back and the grass will soon green up into a lawn again. I can see him tonight and do it tomorrow – if the weather holds. Here.” 

To be continued…

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