There’s Always Tomorrow – Episode 23

The main characters from the story Illustration: Sailesh Thakrar

“The images gave a new purpose to my life,” Larry admitted quietly.

“I wanted to get out of hospital to see her storm paintings. It inspired me and made me want to do the same.”

He shrugged.

“I wanted to do that, but I’m nowhere near ready.”

“One day you will be,” Helen told him with total conviction. “You’ll find your own way to do it.

“You’ll paint and project these same feelings of awe and wonder. I know it.”

Larry looked down at her, frowning.

“Are you just saying that to give me hope?”

“I would never simply say what you want to hear,” she replied quietly.

“So keep going; your journey as an artist has only started.”

Larry reached for her hand.

She could have drawn it away but chose not to. He lifted it gently to his lips and kissed her fingers.

That gentle kiss rocked her more than any kiss had ever done before.

“You’re very special, Helen,” he said gently.

“I’m not.” She laughed. “Inside, I’m still a mess.”

Larry smiled wryly.

“Been there, done that. But you’re good for me. Maybe that can work for both of us.”

“I just don’t know,” Helen admitted. “I’m not ready for the future. I’m still recovering from the past.”

Something had happened between these two, Lorna thought. Something that had moved both of them – Helen in particular.

She sensed it was good, whatever it was, from the glances between them.

So be it. It was none of her business. Her priority was to organise everybody for the shop’s opening the next morning.

“The adverts I got printed and laminated,” Lorna demanded briskly. “Did you stick them up where people will see them, Wullie?”

“Yes, ma’am,” he replied, touching an imaginary forelock.

Lorna burst out laughing.

“Sorry,” she said. “Old habits die hard. I can’t help being a schoolmistress. But we need to make sure everyone knows we’re here.”

“Oh, they know.” Wullie sighed. “There are some wifies out there that knew before we did.

“They didn’t need the posters. Ye could have saved your money.”

“Yes,” Helen said. “This opening stock must have cost you a fortune.”

“It did,” Wullie replied. “And near broke my back in carrying it.”

“You can’t absorb all these initial costs on your own,” Helen insisted. “It’s not right.

“I know we decided to take a risk and open first, rather than start a campaign, but I expected to pay my share. How much do we owe you?”

“Later.” Lorna brushed her off. “Once the dust settles down and we see how it goes.”

“It’s not just the opening stock,” Helen continued. “You must have had to pay a deposit for the shop, so it’s not just a few pounds you’re out of pocket.”

Lorna shook her head. This was the dialogue she had dreaded.

“You tell her, Wullie,” Helen urged.

“Me?” Wullie looked appalled. “I’m only the gardener.”

Lorna sighed.

“The last thing I want is to annoy any of you,” she told them firmly. “It’s going to take a couple of months or more before the shop’s fully accepted.

“It’s a big risk that we’re taking here.

“I was the one who pushed you into agreeing to give it a go, therefore I should carry that risk.

“Thank you for your kind offer, but don’t be offended if I say no,” she finished.

“I’m not offended – but I think you’re daft,” Wullie muttered.

“As in the shop will never work?” Lorna asked.

He scratched his ear.

“I didn’t mean that. There’s a need for it in the village, I’ll give you that.

“But you could be underestimating how difficult it might be.”

“Why?” Lorna asked. “I’m doing it to help people.”

Wullie shrugged.

“We’ve people here that might not want to be helped. Folk that might see it as being pushy. Folk that might think you’re stepping in and taking charge.”

He looked helplessly at Larry.

“You tell her,” he said.

Larry grimaced.

“Wullie is trying to be diplomatic. We’ve had some bad experiences of outsiders coming in and taking over things.

“The incomers think they are contributing to local communities,” he explained.

“But they’re pushing aside the locals who have lived here all their lives. This has created a lot of resentment.

“Folk here in the Mearns have heard all sorts of horror stories. And, rightly or wrongly, there is a deep suspicion about incomers coming in and taking over.”

To be continued…

An error has occurred while loading your details. Please click the following link to try again - if the issue persists, please don't hesitate to contact us. Try again by refreshing the page.