There’s Always Tomorrow – Episode 26

The main characters from the story Illustration: Sailesh Thakrar

Lorna sighed. In the dim and distant past, there had been men.

But none of these had mattered enough to come between her and her teaching.

Long ago, she had chosen teaching to be her life, and she had never regretted that choice.

Lorna walked slowly to her bedroom window. The unkempt lawn had been cut back and tamed.

Her new shrubs had been set out and would soon be supported by the flowers that Wullie had told her would thrive in the crisp, dry climate here.

“There’s aye an edge in the wind in the Mearns,” he had warned her.

He had become her shadow, her sounding board and the balancing voice that argued against her hasty decisions.

He hadn’t just worked the land: he had learned from it, and had loved it with all his heart.

It was too early yet to judge, but she fully expected things to grow for him, sensing a kindred soul looking after them.

But gardening was his part-time job and he had worked so hard and been such good company. He had become her guardian angel without her being aware.

Now she realised that he was looking after her. She, who had never needed to be looked after since her childhood days.

Lorna was a head teacher, a fierce old dragon whom even school inspectors had learned to treat with caution and respect.

But it was nice to have a shadow. To be looked after, whether she needed it or not.

Lorna wandered back to stare at the mirror. She looked much older than she felt.

“Lorna Williamson,” she told her image. “You’re far too old to be feeling like this. Get a grip of yourself.”

It was a trick of the light, but it seemed to her that the greying image in the mirror shook her head defiantly back.

Helen shivered. The atmosphere of the red sandstone ruins of Arbroath Abbey was giving her goosebumps.

They had come to see where the Declaration of Independence had been proclaimed and signed, and its words, translated from the original Latin, still rang like a clarion call in her mind.

It is in truth not for glory, nor riches nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom.

Even as an Englishwoman, there was something about the history of this small intractable nation which touched her.

“Are you cold?” Larry asked.

“No,” she replied with a smile. “There’s just something about this place. Maybe it’s that Declaration – it raises the hairs on the back of my neck.”

“And so it should.” He returned her smile. “It was written as a call to arms, but maybe there’s something else. Have you heard of the Stone of Destiny?”

“Sort of,” she replied. “Didn’t some students steal it from Westminster Abbey for a prank? Until we found it and brought it back?”

“You sound just like my squaddies.” Larry laughed. “Do you want to hear the full story?”

Helen loved his stories, and she was more than half in love already with her storyteller.

“Yes, please,” she replied. “We can have our picnic while you’re telling me.”

“That’s not fair,” he said plaintively. “I can’t talk with my mouth full.”

“It’s all right if you spray the odd crumb around,” she teased him.

There was no doubt in her mind that he felt much the same about her as she did about him.

But by mutual consent, they had settled for this easy-going relationship.

Neither of them wanted to push what they felt for each other too quickly, and it seemed to be working well.

She loved being in his company, and when he wasn’t there she felt acutely the empty space where he should have been.

To be continued…

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