Happy Tuesday all! This week I thought I’d share a short story for a change. The below story was inspired by my visit to Tarbert and also came out of a writing workshop I attended as part of the book festival. The writing workshop was run by the ever-inspiring and helpful Anne Hamilton. She wanted us to write a story inspired by the setting of Tarbert, particularly Tarbert Harbour, as it would be seen from a specific character’s perspective. The character choices were: a 6-year-old boy, a 70-year-old woman, a teenager or a tourist visiting for the weekend. While I enjoyed experimenting with the different characters and their voices, I ultimately chose to write from the point of view of the tourist as it felt the most authentic.
I hope you enjoy my story! I’d love to hear your thoughts on it, if you felt like commenting. 🙂
The Last Night
By Kendra Olson
Gillian sat at the wooden table, watching the harbour lights come on as she finished her fish and chips. Lifting a piece of fish to her mouth, she crunched into it, careful not to drip oil. A small boat was slowly drifting towards her. Blue with white trim, its sail extended to catch the evening breeze.
She snuggled deeper inside her new, grey-green tartan shawl. Tomorrow she would be going home. Home. The word stuck in her throat. She’d only been in Tarbert four days.
The man on the sailing dinghy suddenly waved at her. It was a clumsy gesture. Gillian waved back. Did she know him?
As the boat came closer, she realised it was Chris, from the pub. Gillian rose, threw her cardboard box into the nearby bin and started towards the boat.
Each night since Gillian had arrived she’d been going for a drink at The Corner House—it was right below her room at The Starfish. Chris was a regular there and they’d talked about everything from London, where Gillian lived, to birdwatching—Chris was a birdwatcher—to the Scottish Referendum. They’d taken turns buying each other drinks and he’d introduced her to a few of the locals.
‘Did you have a nice day today?’ Chris asked.
‘Yes, it was lovely, thanks.’
‘And what did you do?’ Chris began putting the sails away. Gillian wondered if he’d had a change of heart. Perhaps he felt obliged to talk to her, to be nice to the tourists who’d made it this far. The thought made her sad.
‘I took the ferry to Arran. It was beautiful.’ Gillian smiled, remembering the journey. A pod of porpoises had swum beside the boat and a woman seated next to her had pointed out a seal, bobbing about in the distance.
‘Aye, it’s very nice out that way.’ Chris looked serious. He pulled on the rope, twisting it up into an impossibly complex sailor’s knot.
Gillian pretended to be enjoying the view and, in truth, she was.
‘Do you have any plans for the night?’ he asked, looking a bit sheepish.
She studied him, wanting to make sure his request was genuine before answering. The fresh sea air acted almost as an aphrodisiac and she noticed the burnt gold of his skin and the sea spray clinging to his hair. The blue of his eyes was almost blinding.
‘No.’ The wind had picked up and Gillian felt the salt lifting up off the water and hitting her exposed skin.
‘I’ve a bottle of Longrow on the boat, if you’d like to join me?’ Chris looked away from her as he fidgeted with the cap in his hands.
‘Okay,’ but she knew she shouldn’t. Tomorrow she’d have to leave, to go back to her real life, whatever that meant.
Chris reached out for Gillian. His grip on her was firm and reassuring. She quickly flew over the brief expanse of ocean below as he pulled her aboard.
She’d not think of tomorrow just yet.