There’s Always Tomorrow – Episode 24

The main characters from the story Illustration: Sailesh Thakrar

Larry sighed.

“Lorna, you’ll have to coax people into your shop with breadcrumbs.

“You’re going to have to work hard to show them that you’re different. That’s what Wullie was trying to say.”

“Oh, dear.” Lorna sighed. “I knew it would be tough. I only hope it’s not going to be as difficult as you suggest.”

“It is,” Wullie declared. “But you’re not on your own. You have me and Larry helping you, and we’re locals. Mearns folk, like themselves.”

“Me, too,” Helen put in.

Wullie looked at her, his eyes twinkling.

“Then we’ll ha’e to teach you some Mearns spik.”

“What’s that?” she asked helplessly.

“How people here speak.” Larry smiled.

Wry humour bubbled up inside Lorna.

“I told you it was a foreign language.” She winked at Helen. “Thank goodness we have local interpreters.

“We can put them on the counter, while you and I hide round the back and bake cakes.”

“Here!” Wullie exclaimed. “I’m a fairmer, no’ a shop hand.”

“You can learn,” Larry told him with a smile.

He turned to the women, smiling.

“That makes sense,” he said. “Having locals to serve them should help a lot.”

“Excellent!” Lorna exclaimed. “Have you done this sort of thing before?”

“No,” Larry confessed. “But I’m trained to turn my hand to anything.”

He wagged a finger at Wullie.

“And trained to spot a malingerer at a hundred yards through a thick fog.”

“I’m going out to do some gardening.” Wullie sighed heavily. “My goose is cooked.”

It was never meant to be like this, Helen thought. She had come north to hide from people and to live in isolation with her animals.

Animals were easier to get on with than humans. They gave you unthinking loyalty.

They didn’t care what mistakes you’d made or how badly you had been hurt.

They took you for who you were and gave you love.

Yet here she was, up to her ears in working with other people.

People who accepted her for who she was without judgement, and offered friendship.

Helen sensed already that there was a new bond between Lorna and Wullie – the start of a different kind of relationship from what was intended.

How could she do anything but respond to the friendship they offered her, become one of their team, facing an uphill battle against local suspicion?

Helen had found a need inside herself to become involved in a battle, though there was no guarantee that she would win.

It had been what she loved in nursing – to rise each day to cope with challenges which would tax her to the limit, and know that the people around her were doing the same.

Then there was Larry.

He had opened doors to a new way of thinking, a new life.

He was someone who had faced what must have seemed impossible challenges every day of his life, after being reduced from a granite-hard sergeant looking after his troops to a badly damaged war victim who was dependent on others.

Larry had learned to fear the nights, and the dreams they brought, even more than his pain-filled days.

He might be winning through, but she knew these nightmares could always find a way of sneaking back, for years to come.

Larry had told her that she was helping him to hold the dreams at bay, but the nurse in her wanted to do more.

Helen turned restlessly in her bed.

She didn’t want a new relationship. She wasn’t ready.

She hadn’t completely healed inside. There were dark shadows that were as frightening as Larry’s dreams.

So why was she already in love with him? Why was she happier than she had been for years?

There’s always tomorrow, Larry had said, when things can be different. Was that truly possible? Or were they only empty words?

To be continued…

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