Hi there!Mark Whitworth I am Mark Whitworth -
writer, educator, traveller
and all round good guy.
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The Lost Friend

The Lost Friend

markThis is a gentle tale, written for a specific audience, very few of whom would visit this website. However, you may enjoy it, mixing the odd tear with a few smiles is never a bad thing! It's written under my nom de plume.

The Lost Friend
Mary usually loved the walk from her home into the village; but it was winter. She would first have to pass down the twisting, overgrown lane; known to everyone as the slalom at this time of year. The lane itself was a wonder; oceans of bluebells would appear in spring, the huge oaks would provide shade and a cool respite in summer and by autumn the fallen leaves would redden the roadway, becoming dangerously slippery until they were cleared. Slalom Lane would provide an ice slide for the local children through parts of the winter but today was a bright, dry and windy December day; the trees providing shelter from the Easterlies and keeping away the ice. As Mary strode down the lane this morning it was a cosy wooden tunnel; for the last week it had been at its most unpleasant and been impassable to all but the most hardened rambler.

At the foot of the hill stood the Victorian school house, which Mary had attended as a child, now gracefully converted into a mansion for the Piggotts and their myriads of tousle haired kids. Was it eight or nine, Mary mused; she guessed it was nine, as she pushed through the gap in the hedge into Farmer Cheswick’s paddock, wondering where the Piggotts and their rash of piggolets were today. In the bright, lowered sunshine, Tom Cheswick was working out his hunter, but he smiled and waved as Mary approached.

mark“A very good morning to you Mary; it’s a wonderful day, is it not? A wonderful day it is!” Tom always spoke in a slightly convoluted fashion, often using words for word’s sake and answering his own questions. His speech mystified Mary, as when they’d attended school together, some fifty years ago, describing him as monosyllabic would have been a kindness. Still, Tom was a good, kindly man and Mary managed to suppress her giggle, instead turning her stifled laughter into a beaming smile.

“Good morning, Tom! It is a fine day. Good to see you working out with Star, it must be eight days since you’ve had him out of the stable.”

“It is that...that it is.” Tom eyed Mary carefully. “You’ve not been out yourself have you? Stuck in that old house all by yourself...hope you’ve been eating properly. Proper eating...yes?”

“Proper eating has been the order of the day, Tom, but I’ve run down my larder, so it’s good to be able to get out today to stock up.” Mary began to move on.

“Don’t forget love, anything you need...me or the missus can get up there in the off-roader, we’ll deliver your shopping for you...we’re more flexible and efficient than Tescos...we are!”

mark“Thanks, Tom, I’ll remember. See you soon!” Mary turned and continued across the paddock as Tom resumed his work adjusting Star’s bridle. Her lonely thoughts had returned now; seeing Tom had brought them back on, after a week alone it was a bit too much and a tear slid down Mary’s cheek as her smile faded. As Tom called out once more she wiped her moistened face with a gloved hand before turning back to face him; at least he was now some thirty yards away; he wouldn’t see.

“What is it, Tom?”

“Just remembered...remembered I did.” Tom hollered, “Wendy’s back in the village. Wendy Stapler. You remember...Wendy.”

“Yes, Tom. Wendy...wonderful...wonderful...that’s wonderful.” Mary turned again, calling over her shoulder, “Thanks, Tom!” Now Mary’s thoughts shifted from despondent to confused and back again in rapid succession. Wendy Stapler...after fifty years...Wendy...her long, long, long, lost ...friend?