by D.A.



“What to do? Oh what to do?” sighed Mary as she gazed out of the little window in her kitchen. The only living things she could see were sheep and birds.

The house was small and isolated, a beautiful spot in the summer but in the damp December drizzle it seemed oppressive.

Mary had planned a year out in the hills for some time. She was going to write, she was going to get her head straight and she was going to relax.

In February she had moved in full of hope, then came the pandemic and the lock-down, but surely she was in the best place? Miles from the big cities where the virus ran rife.

Spring and summer were as magical as she had hoped and she almost forgot about the world’s troubles. Of course she was reminded of them whenever she went to the village for supplies as she had to wrap a scarf around her face before she was allowed to enter the little shop. She felt like an outlaw, running the gauntlet in a strange land.

Then as the days became shorter and colder she felt a feeling of dread creeping over her, Christmas was coming and soon she would have to return to her old life and what was left of that? She hadn’t written much, and what she had probably wasn’t going to win any prizes. She was starting to get anxious, she needed the warmth of human company, not birds and sheep.

The only regular visits she had were from the postman and Mary had begun to look forward to them. So much so that she would send off for things she didn’t really need so that she had regular deliveries. They were on first-name terms now, she had discovered that his name was Ferrin which intrigued her. She looked it up and it was of Gaelic origin and meant “the land, handsome servant or thunder”. Handsome? Yes maybe he was handsome in a way.

As the days shortened her mood darkened, she hardly went outside and she wasn’t eating well.

A few days before Christmas Ferrin rang the door-bell and received no answer, this was unusual. Normally Mary would open the door after a moment or two and smile broadly at him. She had a wonderful smile. Sometimes that smile would appear in his mind unbidden, it meant something to him.

Ferrin had been the postman there for five years, he had come to the country to escape from a relationship gone sour and an unfulfilling job in the city. He was in no hurry to start another relationship, but Mary’s smile stirred something deep inside him. The fact that Mary wasn’t there to answer the door suddenly occurred to him as a great disappointment.

Ferrin tried the bell again, no answer. Maybe she was in the little garden round the back?  - unlikely in this cold weather he knew - but a feeling of foreboding was rising in him.

He walked along the uneven path which lead round the small cottage and was surprised to see the back door ajar. He peered through the doorway into the dark room and thought he saw something on the floor. As his eyes acclimatised to the darkness he was able to make out a foot, Mary’s foot, sticking out from behind the sofa. He called out to her as he came into the room, she was just lying motionless on the floor. He put a hand on her cheek, warm to the touch, he breathed a sigh of relief. “Mary!” he said loudly, hoping to waken her, she stirred and groaned softly. Slowly her eyes opened and she stared incredulously into his face, he felt his heart jump. “What happened?” she asked.

“No idea” answered Ferrin, “I got no answer so I came round the back, you’d left the door open… sorry to barge in. You had me worried!”

“Oh I am sorry, can you get me a glass of water please?” she asked and Ferrin stumbled through the unfamiliar house to the kitchen where he found a mug and filled it from the tap. When he returned Mary was sitting on the sofa looking dazed. “I haven’t eaten anything, I think I just ran out of steam” she said.

“I’ve got my sandwiches in the van” Ferrin said, “you can have them if you like”.

“Thank you.” She said weakly and a trace of that smile returned.

As they sat together on the sofa eating Ferrin’s packed lunch the colour started to come back into her face and a strange feeling of fulfilment came across them both.

“I was feeling a bit down… lost my mojo I think, and with Christmas coming and nothing to look forward to I rather lost the will..” she stopped and sighed.

“You can come to mine for Christmas if you like” said Ferrin “there’s just me and my dog Arthur, you’d be really welcome, we’d like the company.”

“Is that allowed? I mean.. I’d love to but with the lock-down restrictions would it be..” Her voice tailed away as she looked deep into his eyes.

“Yes” he said. “You and me, we can be in a bubble together, it’ll be nice.”

Mary didn’t take long to respond, “A Christmas bubble sounds great, I’d really like that” she said.



a line


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