There’s Always Tomorrow – Episode 11

The main characters from the story Illustration: Sailesh Thakrar

They had left the church, driven to the South Esk, then turned sharply along the road leading to the nature reserve.

This passed the biggest junkyard Helen had ever seen. She itched to turn in and have a rake through what was there.

Not that she needed anything for the cottage, but who could resist exploring an Aladdin’s cave?

The sun was out again and they had the reserve to themselves.

They walked slowly along the grass paths leading to the beach, while her dogs raced on and came panting back.

Above them, high on the grassy cliff face, seagulls soared and spiralled.

“You won’t be able to hear yourself think for them in a few weeks’ time,” Larry said to her. “They’ll be getting ready to nest and –”

He stumbled over a tussock of grass on the path. Helen stopped herself from reaching out to steady him.

Independence was everything to these war-damaged veterans. Take that away and you risked damaging their confidence.

If they stumbled, they staggered until they found their balance again, fighting a leg which didn’t adjust as automatically as their good one.

If they fell, they picked themselves up and got on with it. It was all part of their fight to be “normal”.

There is a time in nursing when it’s wrong to help. You hold back.

She watched him climb the sandy path towards the low lip of the dunes, the soft sand and slope giving uncertain footing.

He coped well, but she knew the months of hard work and blisters which had let him master this kind of walking and balance.

From the top of the dunes, she saw a gentle curve of sandy beach with a fringe of sea-polished stones at their feet.

They picked their way through these on to the sand and settled down to stroll not quite together, but companionably close.

To their right, the sea came murmuring in, breaking into white rollers.

“It’s like summertime,” Helen commented. “So quiet and beautiful.”

Hamish, Zack and even Tanya were pounding round them in a wild figure of eight, with their humans at the intersection point.

They were swooping in with their ears lying flat, accelerating when she pretended to reach down and grab one.

At their heels, the older Tess watched disdainfully, padding back and forward, carefully herding her humans in front of her.

Like any working dog, she’d no time for nonsense.

“What about your cats?” Larry asked. “I feel guilty about keeping you away for this length of time.”

“They’ll be fine.” She smiled. “They’ll be curled up in the sunshine.”

He nodded.

“I haven’t seen them out hunting.”

Helen laughed.

“Their idea of hunting is to sit in front of the fridge.”

He grinned.

To be continued…

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