Under An Island Sun – Episode 01

The main characters from the story

A new serial will take us from Cumbria all the way to sunny Fuerteventura…

When her phone rang as she walked into the house, Mairi knew without checking that the call was about the job.

She’d hardly thought of anything else in the past two days.

The position seemed perfect for her, and vice versa, when she had read the description.

She’d felt it in her bones as she travelled up to Scotland for the interview, and again when she’d tackled questions from a panel of three experts in their field.

The only downside was that success would involve leaving her parents’ farm in the Lake District, by the Cumbrian coast. Its wild beauty might be too bleak and isolated for some, but to her it was home.

Yet almost any suitable job with decent prospects would involve leaving.

This one would simply be a case of exchanging one exhilarating place for another.

“Hello?” She managed to make her voice sound calm as she answered, even though her hands were shaking.

Thank goodness there was no-one around at the moment.

Mum was on a shift at the hospital, having left a stew in the Aga for later, while Dad was out and about, as always.

Just Archie, the family’s cat, was there, curled up in the corner.

Jess, the collie, was out with Dad, which was a shame. Mairi would have appreciated her gentle muzzle nudging her hand.

“Miss Braithwaite? It’s Laura MacPherson here. We spoke at the interview. I’m just letting you know the outcome.”

Mairi held her breath, her heart thudding even as realisation dawned what the verdict was going to be.

The fact that she’d heard it so many times, garnished with similar compliments, didn’t make it any easier.

A lump rose in her throat and the walls of the room seemed to close in as the woman said her piece.

“First, let me assure you that you impressed us all considerably. It was very close, which made our choice incredibly difficult.

“However, we’ve offered the post to someone else and they’ve accepted. If a similar vacancy comes up in the future, please feel free to apply.”

The gentle Scottish lilt of Ms MacPherson was flowing more smoothly now, no doubt relieved at having got past the hard bit of breaking bad news.

“We were very impressed with your qualifications,” she continued. “But another shortlisted candidate shone that little bit brighter on the day.”

From somewhere, Mairi found her voice long enough to say “Thank you”, before letting her phone drop on to the table.

Normally when she needed to escape, she would put on her hiking boots and head for the fells, but after nine hours of packing and sorting orders in a warehouse, she lacked the energy even to climb the stairs to her room.

Instead, she rested her arms and head on the table and closed her eyes to let the wave of misery wash over her, for the job that she’d been so sure would be hers.

“Marine biology doesn’t give you a wide choice,” the careers adviser at school had warned a sixteen-year-old Mairi seven years ago.

“You’d be better with something more flexible.

“Follow your mother into nursing, perhaps?”

Mairi hadn’t seen herself as suited for that occupation. Her opinion was shared by her mum.

“You have to do something that matters to you in order to stick at it,” her mum had pointed out. “Even as a toddler you were fascinated by what was in the sea.”

Doing something that mattered to her had produced an enjoyable course of study and exemplary exam results, but nothing else.

She only realised how much time had passed when she was woken by her mother switching on the light.

To be continued…

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