Number of posts : 9
Registration date : 2012-03-02
Age : 72
Location : Wick, Scotland
|Subject: sequel to 'Follow the Dove' by Catherine M Byrne Sun Mar 04, 2012 12:46 am|| |
SCARTONGARTHOn the 22th of April, 1920, Chrissie Adams received a letter from a dead man.
After a strong blow from north to south, the first tide is the fairest
She met Sanny the Post at the gate of Scartongarth, the cottage where she had lived since the death of her in-laws. Wind loosened strands of hair from the bun she had recently taken to wearing. It was impossible to get away from the wind on the islands of the Pentland Firth. It swept from the north across Orkney, unhampered by hills or the few straggling trees that fought for survival.
‘Hi, Sanny, anything for me the day?’
‘I have that, Missus Reid.’ He leaned his bicycle against the fence and fumbled in his bag. ‘Here we are.’ He pushed his bonnet back, held an envelope close to his face and squinted. ‘I can’t make out the postmark.’ He moved it a little way from his eyes and squinted again. ‘Not from your sister-in-law in Canada. Have ee got a secret admirer, Chrissie?’
‘Secret admirer – hah, that would be the day!’ She snatched the letter from his hand, laughing as she did so.
‘Dinna be so fast to say that. You’re a fine looking woman. There’s many a man who would put their boots under your bed. If I didna have my Jeannie . . . . who’s it from then?’ He winked and picked up his cycle but made no move to leave.
‘Get away you old fool. It’s . . . ,’ Chrissie’s eyes skimmed the address and ice chips filled her blood as she recognised the writing. ‘No one . . . nothing . . .’ She turned her back to Sanny and ripped the flap open.
‘Be like that, then,’ said Sanny and, as if he realised no more was forthcoming, pushed his cycle slowly up the rutted track.
Chrissie lurched to the front of the cottage and her body folded onto the stone seat. Handwriting, barely remembered but still recognisable, slanted over the paper. As she read, the words slammed into her brain.
You will be surprised to hear from me after all this time.
I’ve been thinking about you and Scartongarth a lot lately.
You and I were meant to be together for eternity.
I’m coming home.
All my love,
Filling her lungs with the salt wind, she crushed the page and pushed it into her apron pocket. She set one hand on the stone wall to support herself. Seagulls shrieked from the thatched roof and sunshine filtered through thin clouds, making the undulating, treeless landscape appeared starker than normal. The tide had reached its peak and the waves washed up the shingle beach with an incoming roar and retreating rattle. Fourteen years ago, that same tide had washed up an empty boat. It had been assumed that her man had drowned. No one knew the truth – no one but herself.
She had been just twenty-four when it happened; a scared, confused lassie. What did she know of the world? What did she know now? All she asked for was peace.
‘The letter can’t be from Jack. Jack is dead.’ She spoke aloud and her words splintered into air. ‘Who’s doing this?’ Her head tilted as if an answer would come from the elements, but all she heard were the cawing of the sea birds; the lament of the seals, the bleats of nearby ewes and the thin cries of their recently born offspring.