There’s Always Tomorrow – Episode 36

The main characters from the story Illustration: Sailesh Thakrar

It was odd. In the hospital, she had found herself reacting to the hospital smells like an old warhorse scenting gunpowder, her instinct telling her that this was where she belonged.

It was what she had trained and studied for.

She stopped. She was still holding his hand, and they were face to face.

“How can you know that?” she asked.

“Because I love you,” he answered quietly. “I love you for what you are, and for what you can be again.”

It was out in the open. A simple declaration of love.

“And I love you,” Helen whispered. “I can’t bear the thought of going away from you – or you going away from me to do counselling.”

They stood in the sunlight, holding hands.

“Who mentioned going away?” Larry asked. “I couldn’t live without you at my side.

“We can both do what we want to do here. As long as we have each other.”

“So what shall we do about it?” she asked unsteadily.

“Get married,” he said quietly. “Will you marry me?”

There was no doubt in her mind.

“Yes,” she said simply, and he gathered her into his arms.

Out at sea, a dolphin accelerated, then exploded out of the water to arc high in the air, before crashing down in a shower of spray.

They never noticed – nor did they hear the excited shouts and cheers from the cliffs above them.

They were too caught up in the moment, oblivious to anything or anyone but themselves.

The wedding service over in the tiny church, Helen handed her bridal bouquet and veil to Lorna, and took off her shoes.

She would have been happier wearing nurse’s trainers, but Lorna would have had none of that.

In her stocking feet, Helen reached up to undo her hair and let it fall around her shoulders.

Her heart racing, she stepped on to the old wooden platform of the measurement device, which had been used ever since John Orr’s bequest in the 18th century.

“Turn around, Helen,” the minister directed her. “Feet flat. Now, set your back against the upright and stand straight. That’s it.”

Helen heard the movement of the horizontal arm of the bride measurer slide down, felt it touch then press firmly on the top of her head.

“Will I be the tallest bride?” she asked.

“You will have to wait until the end of the year to find out.” There was a smile in the minister’s voice. “But you have a good chance of being a dowry bride.”

At the side, Wullie looked at the flowers in the bridal bouquet and cleared his throat. This place was dangerous.

He nudged Lorna.

“Why did ye never get married?” he whispered.

“I was too busy,” she said. “I had a school to look after.”

“And now?”

Lorna turned, smiling, from watching Helen.

“No school any more.”

“So what do you plan to do now?” Wullie asked.

“Retire to a wee village and start a community shop. Find a crabbit old farmer and settle down.”

Lorna had always known her own mind and had never feared to act on it.

Wullie blinked, considered and frowned.

“Am I crabbit enough?”

“You’ll do,” she teased. “Until I find a more crabbit one.”

As Helen stepped down from the bride measurer, Wullie nudged Lorna.

“Give the lassie back her bouquet,” he whispered.

Lorna looked down, frowning.

“It’s nice,” she said. “I’m tempted to keep it.”

“Why don’t you?” he asked.

She stared at him, and his eyes twinkled back.

“Is that a proposal, Wullie?” she asked.

“Only if yours was,” he countered.

Lorna fought down giggles. This was ridiculous, but she was loving every minute of it.

However, she must answer in kind, in the understated oblique way of the folk up here in the Mearns.

She looked down at the bouquet, turning it this way and that.

“It would be a shame to waste it,” she conceded.

“Good thinking,” Wullie agreed. “And you could be the oldest dowry bride.”

“I’m not sure I like that thought.” Lorna sighed.

“Better late than never.” Wullie laughed.

The End.

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