There’s Always Tomorrow – Episode 21

The main characters from the story Illustration: Sailesh Thakrar

Lorna took a firm grasp on herself.

“If things go well, then I won’t be taking all the risk on my own shoulders. For a community shop, the funding should be raised by everyone using it buying shares.

“Right now, it’s too soon,” she went on. “When the shop takes off, I’ll present people with an estimate of how much we need to raise between us to keep things going.

“For now, it’s easier for me to put in the capital and get that back when we go genuinely communal.”

“And if we don’t?” Wullie sounded both worried and upset.

“Then the four of us who started it will have given it our very best shot.”

He tugged the bonnet lower down his forehead.

“I cannae have you doin’ that. I wouldnae sleep at nights. Let me put in a bittie to help you out?”

“No,” Lorna said firmly. “Wullie, I’m a single woman. I was brought up to be prudent and I’ve saved hard all my life.

“When I retired, I got a generous lump sum as part of my pension. I can afford to risk a little bit of that.”

“So can I,” Wullie argued. “I’m worth a bob or two.”

“Let’s talk about this later,” she suggested. “But if you pay, the other two will want to contribute, too, and I doubt either of them has much to spare.

“Let’s get to the check-out, load up the car and visit a couple of charity shops.”

Wullie pushed the heavily laden trolley forward.

“What dae ye want wi’ a charity shop?” he demanded.

“Books,” she replied. “An opening stock of books so that when people drop in they can either borrow a book or swap it with one of their own.

“It’s all part of what I want to build with the shop. I want it to be a hub within the village.”

Unhappily, he helped her load the food into her car, then followed her to a charity shop, where she bought almost a whole shelf of books.

The two cardboard boxes weighed a ton, but he carried them resolutely back to her car, refusing to let her take either of them.

Puffing and complaining, Wullie dumped the boxes on to the back seat alongside a multitude of bags of food that had spilled over from the boot.

“I’ve just had a thought,” he said, straightening up.

“Which is?” Lorna was desperate to get home to set her new stock out on the shelves of her shop.

“We can aye eat food,” Wullie pointed out. “But have ye any good recipes for eatin’ books?”

She enjoyed his teasing and his glance locked on to hers for a moment longer than she anticipated.

It felt good.

The quiet knock on her door took Helen by surprise the next morning.

From the clamour of the dogs, she guessed it was Larry.

“Coming,” she shouted, taking off the washing-up gloves and hurrying through.

Larry’s backpack was hanging from one hand, while the other was trying to cope with the welcoming pack of dogs.

He looked up, smiling.

“Fancy a run?” he asked. “It’s a mild day.”

“Another mystery picnic?” Helen replied.

“Something like that. I have the grub.”

“You expect me to drop everything, just like that?” she teased.

Larry grinned.

“Not quite a royal command, but there’s something I want you to see before Lorna has us working all hours in her shop.”

“Our shop,” Helen pointed out. “It’s everyone’s shop. Give me ten minutes.”

“All you need to do is put on shoes and a jacket. The rest will do.”

In a little over the 10 minutes, they were in the van and heading towards the coast.

“Where are we going today?” Helen asked.

“We’re going to Catterline. There’s a cluster of old cottages clinging to the cliffs above a harbour on the wildest stretch of coast you’ve ever seen.”

“Can I ask why?”

“Because it’s a place which was loved by the woman who gave me the best reason of all to live, when I was in rehab.”

To be continued…

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