BIDING HER TIME – Part Two

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I am pleased to present the final part of Biding Her Time, my first winning short story which was published in Writing Magazine last year. Thank you for all your kind and positive words about Part One of the story posted yesterday.  Again, enjoy and I look forward to your comments.

BIDING HER TIME – Part Two

“Sir, he’s the brightest of us all, well, nearly, apart from Queenie of course.”

Sympathetic eyes scanned in her direction then back to the front.

“Sir, he is going to university. To be a doctor. He always said so.”

“Well, that was true. Life has changed suddenly for him and as the eldest he is starting work on his uncle’s boat tomorrow. You will all understand, I know,” replied the teacher, staring into space, to the space usually occupied by Thomas.

Without warning Queenie stood up. The chair screeched against the floor and as silently as she arrived that morning, she left, heading out into the warm sunshine. A warmth that failed to reach the chill in her heart. She did understand. His sorrow, at the loss of his father and his dream. Queenie shook with the realisation of her own loss of Thomas. Their future. Thomas and his lively exuberant presence and his kindness. All gone.

She saw him later that day, on top of the highest outcrop of rocks on the island. Look Out Point they’d all called it, playing pirates, fighting off the invaders. Thomas stood still but she could see the battle within him.There was a new firmness in his stance and a grim determination set on his face. With a start he shook himself out of his reverie and finally spotted Queenie. He nodded briefly, his eyes black with grief, then turned for home.

The following months and years passed somberly for Queenie. Her joyful singing became the hushed hum of insects, her skipping metamorphosed into a considered mature step. She walked out with a couple of boys, respectable boys, in her father’s opinion. “Not like that Thomas,” he would add. “He doesn’t go to church anymore. He even drinks, I hear,” he would comment in disgust.

Queenie retreated to her studies, but the competitive excitement had long since evaporated. The classroom shrank in around her and her legs became numb, squashed under the small desk cubicle.

“You can’t let him go so easily, Queenie,” Betty reiterated. Betty, her friend at nursing school and who, since learning of her love for Thomas, had made it her personal mission to unite the two.

“You must fight for him. We’ll sort something out,” she said with conviction.

“My father. His disapproval…” said Queenie.

“You and Thomas will win that with time. You’ll see.”

Queenie was becoming colder by the minute. For over an hour the North Sea wind had whipped around her ankles, trying to raise her long marine blue skirt. Her new high heel boots caught unnervingly on the rough cobblestones of the quay and she tiptoed precariously between the minefield of trawls, which were strewn chaotically alongside.

Seeking shelter by a red fisherman’s hut, its paint peeling, she pulled her new tailored jacket around her.

“Ten more minutes,” Queenie muttered under her breath. She had already waited for nearly two hours and the bunch of wild flowers she had picked fondly that morning had started to wilt. She gave them a quick shake as if hoping to revive them then laughed at her own foolishness.

Had something happened to Thomas’s trawler? Why were they the last?

A sudden gust of wind lifted her new hat and its delicate blue feather fluttered in the breeze. She heard the soft ping of hat pins hitting the stones and scanning around she located them.  Securing the hat again, she failed to notice the wooden vessel approaching the harbour. It lay low in the water, laden with herring, as the captain skilfully steered between the harbour walls.

All onboard gawped at the astonishing sight of the stylishly clad woman on the quay, standing incongruously amongst the lobster pots and wooden boxes. Shielding her eyes, Queenie looked up quickly and scoured the deck for Thomas. She could not find him. Thomas had no such difficulty and called out to her but his shout of “Queenie!” was lost amidst the raucous cheers from the crew.

Minutes later, Thomas was able to climb down onshore and quickly he dashed after the now retreating figure of Queenie.

“Queenie?” he whispered reverentially.

“Queenie!” This time he shouted louder. She turned and waved, tossing the flowers to the side.

God, he’d missed her. That smile.

Rushing up to her, he stopped breathlessly and stared.

“Queenie. You are so beautiful. You’re all grown up.”

She laughed. “Of course, so have you.”

“What are you doing down here? What a coincidence. A wonderful one, mind,” said Thomas in awe.

“Yes, it is, isn’t it?” Again that smile

“Would you like to meet for coffee later?” asked Thomas boldly. “Once I’ve changed out of all this,” he added as he gestured to his bright orange oilskin clothes.

“I’d like to very much. Thank you,” said Queenie.

At that moment Thomas realised this woman was destined to be his wife. She just didn’t know it yet.

The End

© Annika Perry

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26 thoughts on “BIDING HER TIME – Part Two

  1. Barbara says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed the short story Annika.
    Now I want more 😊
    Your imagery was so well done. I felt like I was there with Queenie watching for Thomas to return from sea.
    Thank you for sharing this award winning story.

  2. Marion says:

    Oh Annika I really enjoyed reading your short story again. No wonder you won! So well written, so touching! And a happy ending too! Thanks dear for sharing it. Kram

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you so much Marion and lovely to know you are reading it again.At first I was a bit nervous sharing it but I have received such warm and positive comments you can’t stop me smiling. 😄 Warmest wishes to you and Kent.

  3. Mike says:

    Thanks for sharing your story with us. I can see why it was a winner. An atmospheric and well rounded story with a perfect ending. Congratulations and keep writing the short stories. I’d like to read more.

    Mike

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you Mike and I do love writing short stories so am not intending to stop. I have just completed a new one this week. The ideas flow non-stop. I am considering posting one of my stories on a monthly basis following the positive response, so look out for more…

      • Mirja says:

        Great idea, I for one will be looking out for the next.:)
        Any thoughts about publishing a book of short stories?
        From what I understand you have more then enough now.

        • Annika Perry says:

          I’m glad you like the idea of a story a month – I’ll give that a go then! As for a book of short stories – blimey…hmm…me musing…maybe…I’ll finish my other projects first I think. Easy to get side-tracked but many thanks for the idea. Yes, I have more than enough short stories.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you so much Diana. It’s strange as young I used to write quite ‘dark’ mysterious stories, so this one surprised even myself. I’m so happy you were enticed by the story and couldn’t wait to read the second half.

  4. Mirja says:

    Sigh of relief here. Their love won out. I love the way Thomas says ” She just doesn’t know” :))
    same as Queenie said as a girl.
    A very strong love story of enduring love. Also funny and witty.
    I am totally taken.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Mirja, I wanted to tie the end to the beginning, always a good technique but wasn’t quite sure of how until writing the last few sentences. It feels like serendipity at times! I’m glad the fun and wit comes across well and I imagine this is a love story that would endure over a lifetime. It just took Thomas a while to get there!😃

  5. Peter R says:

    Well, I can see why it won. Beautifully written. You have captured everything so well. The island, the school, the trawler, and most of all the couple. An emotional rollercoaster, condensed into so few words. Well done.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you Peter for your lovely comment. Wow! It’s the details that create the images and layers within stories and I’m glad you felt they worked so well here. Life is so full of ups and downs, a death of a closed one the ultimate, so yes a real rollercoaster emotionally and huge obstacle for the couple to overcome as they were parted so early on in life. Short stories never seem quite long enough for me but I have found the best way for me is to overwrite by at least a couple of hundred words and then be ruthless – cutting away anything that doesn’t pull its weight. Harsh and tricky but succeeds in achieving a complete story condensed down.

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