You’ve dropped something.’ Kirsty Mitchell’s friend, Freda, bent to pick up the handwritten sheet of paper. ‘Is it important?’
‘Read it,’ Kirsty said. ‘It’s from Elsa, a woman I know in Mull. I didn’t go past the first paragraph.’
‘We’re having a party to celebrate our Silver Wedding next month,’ Freda read out. ‘Why don’t you come and bring that young man of yours? It’s about time we met him. How long have you been married now?’
While Freda was reading, Kirsty walked over to the window. Looking down onto the busy to-ing and fro-ing of the Glasgow city centre traffic, she could hear the noise of cars and buses–engines revving, brakes squealing–as they responded to the traffic lights at the crossroads. This hive of activity represented the lives of people going places, people in a hurry with appointments to attend, deadlines to meet, business to conduct.
Thinking about the days and weeks ahead, Kirsty had a leaden feeling in her stomach. Six weeks–possibly longer–stretched before her; about forty days with no appointments, no deadlines, a diary which was free of any engagements. How she envied the people in the street below.
It was good of Freda, one of her oldest friends, to come through from Edinburgh for the weekend, responding to her SOS. Amid tears of anger and disappointment, Kirsty had issued a cry for help.
‘Adam’s just left… I told him not to come back… I think our marriage is over… I don’t know what to do…’ she’d said, her voice muffled by her tears.
‘So you’re on your own?’ Freda asked.
‘I’ll be with you in a couple of hours.’
* * *
The argument had started when Kirsty’s husband, Adam, announced at short notice that he would be away from home for two months.
‘I’m sure you’ll find plenty to do,’ he’d said. ‘I might be back sooner than expected, but you have friends here…’
‘All my friends have made plans for the summer. If you’d given me more warning…’
‘I only heard two days ago. It’s too good an opportunity to miss, Kirsty. You do understand that, don’t you?’ He had taken hold of her hands, pulling her round, trying to make her look into his eyes. ‘You’ll be all right, won’t you?’
‘Of course, I’ll be all right.’ Her clipped tone could not have left her husband in any doubt about her reaction to his news. ‘Sensible, capable Kirsty. She’ll always make the best of things.’
‘Don’t be like that, darling. Sarcasm doesn’t help. We can plan the cruise for next year and, with the firm landing this contract, it could be bigger and better…’
‘I don’t need bigger and better, Adam. I’ve been looking forward to going on the cruise this year…’
‘You can still go. Take one of your friends with you,’ Adam said.
‘I’ve told you, they’re all booked up for their holidays. Besides, it wouldn’t be the same. I wanted to go with you.’
‘And I wanted to go with you, darling. But I really have no choice…’
You always have a choice, she’d thought.