Together We Stand – Episode 17

“Are you certain about this?” Tanni asked, eyeing the cumbersome Ford parked outside the gate of the Bron Derw with ill-disguised alarm.

“Of course.” Madeleine looked up from piling equipment from the picture wagon on the back seat and grinned. “They are easy to handle once you know how.

“Are you prepared to risk giving Llandudno the shock of its life? Two women driving around in an automobile without a man to guide them. You’ll never live it down.”

“I’ll take the risk,” Tanni replied, laughing. “I’ll fetch the cameras.”

She shot through the gate and into the outbuilding containing the picture wagon. From the outside it looked much the same, and despite having filled Henry’s vehicle with photographic equipment, the shelves still looked as full as ever.

Mr Samuel’s precious camera, huge and battered, stood ready.

She lifted down the new Kodak folding camera from the shelf. Freeing it from its case, she felt its elegance in her hands and for a moment she hesitated.

She’d used Mr Samuel’s old camera so many times it felt like second nature, even though the thought of taking portraits on her own, without him to guide her, was still terrifying.

But this one was completely unfamiliar. It even used rolls of film, rather than Mr Archer’s wet collodion process, so beloved of Mr Samuel.

Still, there would be time enough to learn a new kind of camera, and a new way of developing film and printing the photographs.

She tucked the Kodak back in its box, pushing it as far as she could into the hidden recesses of the shelf, then she manoeuvred the large camera out into the sunshine, pulling the door of the outbuilding behind her.

She could hear Madeleine still arranging pieces of equipment in the boot. As she turned, she glimpsed the nearest part of the garden, to where Henry had retreated once Madeleine had shooed away his attempts to help them in no uncertain terms.

Tanni bit her lip. She felt guilty that he had been injured on her account. She had seen from the exhaustion on his face, and his meek obedience of his sister’s command to rest, that his wound was still painful.

Leaving Mr Samuel’s camera next to the door, she made her way towards him.

He didn’t look up as she approached, apparently absorbed in his book. He was asleep, she saw, cheek resting on one hand, his book fallen open on his lap.

Tanni came to a halt. She had no wish to disturb him.

A faint crease of pain remained between his brows, but otherwise he looked more peaceful than when she had seen him before.

For a moment she caught a glimpse both of the boy he had been, and the old man he would one day become. It was not a strikingly beautiful face, but friendly and intelligent.

She had forgotten she was standing there, gazing at him, until his eyes opened and met hers.

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.