reason said no. Carrie’s father was upset, and thinking what he did he might well be inclined to act first and ask questions later. It was Walter’s wedding day, and any unpleasantness would mar the occasion. No, he would wait until he saw Sandy on the Monday morning shift, by which time Carrie would probably have set her father straight anyway.
After standing for a while longer, David walked out of the backyard into the narrow lane beyond, hands thrust deep into his trouser pockets. He wasn’t thinking about Sandy now or the unfairness of what he had been accused of, his thoughts were centred on the young slip of a girl he had loved all his life, or that was what it felt like. He couldn’t rid himself of the feeling there had been more to her evident distress than having too much to drink; the way she had gone for him for example, that wasn’t the Carrie he knew. Had something happened?
His stomach muscles tensed and he halted, oblivious of the snowflakes swirling in the wind. For a moment back there he had thought she was frightened of him, and there had been what he could only describe as a haunted look about her.
He began walking again, the knowledge of his inadequacy to measure up to the occasion that had presented itself rising like bile in his mouth. He had to face it, he was nothing to Carrie McDarmount, nothing beyond a friend and hardly that if the truth be known. Once you got to a certain age it was accepted you didn’t have friends among the opposite sex. You were either walking out with a lass or you weren’t and there was an end of it. And he very definitely wouldn’t be courting Carrie if her reaction to him tonight was anything to go by.
Damn and blast it. He stopped, turning to look back the way he’d come. For two pins he’d go back and have it out with Sandy and to hell with them all.
He could hear old Sep Heslop cleaning out his pigeons on the other side of the wall as he stood hesitating, talking to them as if they were bairns. Lived for his pigeons, did Sep, them and his pipe and baccy. Winter and summer Sep would choose to be out in his backyard with the birds rather than trapped inside with his wife and ten bairns. And there were plenty like Sep if the talk down the pit was anything to go by.
For some reason the thought of the old miner diffused his anger, sadness settling on him instead. He wanted more from marriage than a hot meal on the table when he got home from work and a body beside him in bed. He’d as soon cut his throat and be done with it if he thought he’d have to endure what his da had put up with for years.
He took his cap off and banged it against his leg to clear the snow, ramming it back on his head as he turned and walked on. Maybe it was as well he’d had his answer from Carrie without even having to ask the question. He could start to make plans now, and come spring he’d be ready to move down south or maybe even further afield, America perhaps or New Zealand. His da had a cousin in New Zealand. He could make his fortune and then come back and show Carrie McDarmount what she’d missed out on. That was what he’d do. The world was bigger than Sunderland and there were more fish in the sea than Carrie. Life was what you made it, wasn’t it? He repeated this to himself several times before he reached his own backyard, and his face was grim.
It was at the end of January when the gnawing fear Carrie had been trying to put to the back of her mind ever since the night of Renee’s wedding was confirmed.
She had told herself that the non-appearance of her monthly over Christmas was down to the shock of what had occurred, but on the last Saturday in January something happened which made it clear she couldn’t pretend to herself everything would return to normal in time. She felt she’d been living in a vacuum the last weeks, making the right responses and striving for normality when in fact she had been