Written for the FutureLearn ‘Start Writing Fiction’ course.
Exercise 2.17 – Switch on the radio for a prompt. “The barriers that existed between these two people being able to be in love.”
The Island’s Inventory (500 word story).
She instantly recognised his handwriting on the wrapper encasing the garlic naan.
“Another beer,” Dougie bellowed over the rugby commentary. “Bring it over with my curry.”
Catriona shivered at the numbers inked so neatly. She’d seen him writing orders and receipts many times. Dougie McDonald had been a loyal customer since Syed Khan opened his takeaway on the island two years ago.
She tore the laminate and shoved the scrap into the pocket of her maternity jeans.
I got your new number.
That’ll do. Won’t arouse suspicion if anyone else reads it. She knew that Syed’s father-in-law was the chef.
Meet tomorrow morning? S
Catriona’s heart contorted, this time unrelated to her pregnancy dyspepsia.
The Point. How early can you make it?
Catriona stared, then swiped the screen to delete the text messages.
She recognised Syed’s car immediately and others would too which was why he’d selected the most remote car park on this Scottish isle. She parked Dougie’s dilapidated van alongside and battled the gale around to his passenger door.
Inside the red BMW she was cocooned in his world of leather, chrome dials and blue-toothed devices. Not bad for a delivery driver she’d thought a year ago, not knowing then that he owned several businesses on the mainland.
They grinned and she realised they’d never been this close in daylight. Always separated by a cash register on a counter-top, or the porch threshold if he delivered Dougie’s takeaway. They’d only been intimate in the darkness when he’d started secretly picking her up on her walk home from work. God, he was so handsome. Illuminated by the sunrise she weakened at caramel flecks in his espresso eyes and yearned for the soft friction of his raven stubble against her skin again.
“I’m sorry,” Syed’s smile faded to torment as he reached for her pale, freckled hand. “I couldn’t stay away any longer.”
Catriona swallowed, “Me neither.”
“I wish we could leave,” Syed scowled at the jagged coastline. “But my kids are here.”
“Take them with us?” Catriona’s throat constricted, realising what she’d just suggested.
“They need their mother too,” Syed sounded resigned. Imprisoned.
“I’m pregnant,” Catriona announced it flatly.
“I heard. You need to leave him,” Syed fingered the latest bruise on her wrist.
“I’m going in two weeks,” she sighed. “I’ll stay with my sister in Edinburgh.”
“I could rent you a flat in Glasgow. I’m always traveling there for meetings. We could be together properly.” Syed choked. “A real family.”
Properly? Once a month at the most. Catriona shook her head, “That wouldn’t be right.”
“We don’t have many options,” Syed checked the rear view mirror for errant dog walkers. “A relationship here is impossible with this community and my family… and after our baby is born…”
Catriona nodded, neither knew who the father was yet, but both agreed that she couldn’t go on as a domestic abuse statistic, or join the island’s growing inventory of marital and paternity scandals.