Together We Stand – Episode 15

Gwendolyn leaned against the railings of Llandudno’s pier, gazing over the sea to the row of sea-front hotels, with the mountains stretching out behind.

It was early morning, with only a few visitors making their way up and down the length of the pier, huddled against the breeze.

She was tired. The last few weeks had been an urgent rush of builders to be kept in line, and the crowd of young women helping with the clearing out and the painting of the insides of the tearooms to be organised.

Not to mention ensuring the kitchens were cleaned and prepared, all ready for the opening of the tearooms next week.

She looked back to the end of the pier, where Madeleine was sketching the front of Llandudno in preparation for her second backdrop for Tanni’s studio.

Gwendolyn frowned to herself. Perhaps she was being unfair to the young woman, encouraging her to cross Evan’s path at every available moment.

Like many of the others in the tearooms, she had been startled by Madeleine’s skill. She worked with confidence, spending hours on end transforming the plain cloth on the floor of the photographic studio into a fairy-tale castle with Snowdon rising up behind.

She was a good draughtswoman, too. The castle was so real, you could have sworn you were standing just in front of a real building.

Gwendolyn’s frown deepened. She remembered where her unease had stemmed from. It was something Madeleine had let slip – a remark to Edith, who was a fine seamstress and was creating costumes to fit both the scene and all sizes of clientele.

“I studied architecture for a while.”

It was a throwaway sentence as Edith exclaimed at the realism of the castle; almost an apology for her breathtaking level of skill.

Architecture was not a subject open to women. Madeleine must have felt passionately about the subject to have found a way into studying it at all.

Gwendolyn sighed. As much as she loved her son, he was a man who would always be free to do as he pleased, married or not.

For all his principles, she had to ask herself just how happy he might be to come home at the end of a long day dealing with patients to find no sign of an angel of his hearth as his wife pursued her own passion.

She’d been so determined herself not to allow marriage to constrain her. But compromises had to be made with two people with differing dreams living under one roof, and she had ended up the one who had compromised.

Of course, she had the time and the money to do as she pleased now, but there was so much she would have loved to have achieved on her own account, rather than always hiding behind her husband.

She changed position, easing the ache in her back and her hips, feeling the tiredness from carrying and lifting over the past weeks. That was it. Today, she was feeling old.

“Sometimes it feels too late,” she muttered.

“Mrs Humphries!” She turned to find a large man bearing down on her. This was the last thing she needed.

She was cornered. Blocked in against the pier railings, with only the turquoise waters below as her escape.

“I’d rather take my chances with the dolphins,” she muttered under her breath.

“Mr Banks,” she said aloud, mustering the blandest smile she could manage. “What a beautiful morning, don’t you agree?”

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.