Friendship Speculative Romance

The waiting room was silent, apart from the rhythmic ticking of the grandfather clock, and an occasionally suppressed cough. Margaret surveyed the tense faces. Directly opposite her sat a distinguished looking gentleman in a navy-blue pin striped suit. She furtively observed him, noting the expensive looking silk tie.

Solicitor, she surmised. On about 60 K a year, I’ll bet. Regardless of the fact he looked as though he wouldn’t have the foggiest what or where Aldi was, there was something about him that was quite appealing. He had a very alluring aura about him. There was something she couldn’t quite put her finger on but it was difficult to avert her gaze.

She shook herself and moved on to a portly lad with ruddy cheeks; you work in the bakery around the corner, she mused.

The fact that his trousers were splattered with flour didn’t deter her from congratulating herself on her astuteness. Next to him sat an eyebrow pierced lad. The black spikes that projected from the peroxide bleached hair, gave the impression that he had just been electrocuted.

 Unemployed, or more accurately unemployable, Margaret suggested sagely to herself.

She was beginning to enjoying to herself, until she sensed a young woman eyeing her suspiciously. She forced a perfunctory smile.

Turning to the elderly woman alongside her, she whispered, “I always think it a bit eerie sitting in silence, don’t you?”

“What did you say my dear?” the woman blared back.

“I was just saying,” Margaret raised her voice and accentuated each word. “That a silent room seems to make the waiting so much more unbearable, don’t you think?”

“You’ll have to speak up!” the woman demanded as she furiously twiddled the dial on her deaf aid. “My batteries are almost flat.”

“Oh nothing,” Margaret sheepishly replied after detecting several irritated groans. She grabbed the first magazine that came to hand and began systematically flicking through it. The rustle of pages was the only thing to break the resumed peace.

A husky voice to her right suddenly interrupted the tranquillity.

“Do you sail then?”

In her attempt to analyse the selection of tattoos on the forearm of the youth, Margaret had neglected to notice who had just sat down alongside of her.

Startled for a moment, she turned to face the enquiring gaze of Mr Fortnum and Mason.

“Oh err no,” she mumbled. “But I did take a holiday on the Norfolk Broads when my husband was alive.” She quickly closed the magazine and glanced down at the cover. Until that precise moment she had absolutely no idea as to its contents. Yachting Monthly, stared up at her. Eeek… of all the numerous magazines to pick up; she knew absolutely nothing about sailing.

She swallowed hard. “He did all the driving of the boat though.” She smiled coyly, “I was just the galley slave.”

The tail end of a muffled chuckle registered. 

“But I’ve always wanted to try to sail myself.” The lie spilled effortlessly. “And I do have a daughter living on the Mediterranean Coast,” she added as an after thought; the daughter part at least was true.

“Well now is as good a time as any,” he suggested. “There are some great bargains in the classified section at the back this month.”

The overhead electronic information board started buzzing. Margaret managed to conceal her relief as all heads turned in unison.

 The man rose to his feet, “That’s me. Two amalgams today I fear.”

He tapped the magazine, “It wouldn’t hurt to look would it? A Westerly Centaur is a good starting boat for a lady, and I know there at least two for sale locally in that issue.” As he stood up as Margaret's eyes followed.

He bent down to collect his jacket, Margaret caught a whiff of aftershave. She inhaled deeply, savouring the musky aroma.

 “I run a sailing school,” he winked as he slipped her a business card. “If you decide to give it a whirl, give me a call. My rates are very competitive.”

Margaret could feel her colour rise. She wasn’t sure if she had just been chatted up or not. She placed the magazine on his empty seat, in a conscious effort to prevent anyone else sitting there.

She chuckled to herself. Me, sailing – at 48 years of age; the whole idea is ludicrous. She inadvertently laughed aloud causing several heads to turn in her direction. Quietly clearing her throat, she closed her eyes and sat back allowing her mind to drift. It continually wandered back to what he had said, “Good bargains… wouldn’t hurt to look.”

The buzzer interrupted her reverie as Margaret James to Room 7 flashed up on the screen. As she gathered her belongings, she surreptitiously slipped the magazine into her bag.

She had forgotten the incident, until that evening, when an advertisement for a charted sailing holiday in the Caribbean caught her eye on the television. A beautiful schooner seemed to glide effortlessly across tranquil blue seas. It was heeled over to such an extent so as to allow a bikini clad woman to languidly stroke the diaphanous waters.

Margaret then recalled the myriad of yachts that sailed around Marseille where Rachel had settled.

Why not make every day a holiday, she pondered. After all, the house was paid for, and the compensation from Paul’s accident had provided her with a nice little nest egg.

She knew he wouldn’t want her to sit and vegetate. She visualised him shouting down at her, “Go for it girl, with my blessing!”

Suddenly the rest of her life was mapped out for her. After all wasn’t Rachel always ringing her from France and telling her to get her life in order?

“Do something impetuous Mum,” she had insisted. “Don’t waste what’s left of your days moping around the house dusting and cleaning.”

Margaret jumped up and ran to her bag. The magazine lay crumpled in the bottom. As she pulled it out a business card fell to the floor: Peter Davies Sailing Classes for Beginners to Advanced Levels.

 He was a bit of a dish she mused, dropping the card onto the coffee table. She hastily turned the pages looking for the Boats for Sale section.

Boats under £20,000 caught her eye immediately. “This looks good to me,” she muttered aloud.

A charming little Red Westerly Centaur yacht seemed to jump out at her. She scanned the advertisement; One previous owner. Four berths. Fully equipped. Ready to launch. Beautifully maintained. 25 H diesel engine. Full roller reefing sails. £10,500.o.n.o.

It all seemed perfect. Plus, it was moored within a couple of miles of her home. However, the one thing that set her heart pounding was the name: Pride of Paul. It must be an omen.

She picked up the receiver and dialled the number. The seconds it took to connect seemed like an eternity.

Eventually someone answered; “Paul Edwards.”

 “I’m calling about the yacht.” A panic began to overwhelm her, but she forced herself to continue. “Is it still for sale?”

“Why yes, in fact it was sold,” he replied. “But they pulled out yesterday as they couldn’t gather enough funds.”

 She could hear her heart beating in her ears, and thought it might burst out from behind her ribcage. “Would it be possible to come and view it?”

“Yes you’re welcome to view it any time” he replied. “I do regret having to sell it,” he sighed despondently, “but as I am in poor health it has to go now,”.

She jotted down a few details as she relaxed into the conversation.

“It’s moored in the marina close to my home, so would about 3pm tomorrow suit you Mr. Edwards?”

“That sounds fine to me; I look forward to seeing you tomorrow then.”

Margaret replaced the receiver and gasped; not knowing if it was a sigh of relief or regret. She decided on the former and poured herself a large glass of wine to toast her good fortune, before collapsing into the armchair.

She then did something totally out of character; she picked up the business card from the coffee table, and tentatively dialled the number. She waited anxiously for the voice on the other end.

Seconds later she recognised the familiar baritone voice from that morning.

 “Peter Davies.”

Margaret considered replacing the receiver, but instead took a deep breath, “Umm… I’m not sure if you remember me.” She could feel beads of perspiration begin to erupt on her brow and slowly start their journey south. “I was sat next to you in the dentist's surgery this morning.”

“Ah yes, the lovely lady with aspirations of sailing the Med,” he joked.

“Well not quite,” Margaret laughed. “Actually I took your advice,” she went on. “I am going to look at a Westerly Centaur in the marina where your office is based tomorrow.” 

She gulped hard. “I was err… wondering if… I would pay you for your time of course. If maybe you might pop out for half an hour to view it with me? As you could probably tell, I know absolutely nothing about sail boats.”

“Yes I gathered that when you were looking at the magazine upside down,” he laughed.

Margaret was thankful that they were not face to face as she felt the burning sensation creep up her neck. He did however seem very relaxed about the proposition.

“I would be delighted to assist a budding yachtswoman,” he answered. “What time?”

“Would 3pm be ok?”

“That would suit perfectly as I have no customers all afternoon. Perhaps I could also take you out to dinner tomorrow evening,” he continued. “I seem to be rattling around this place alone most nights since my divorce.”

She tried hard not to sound desperately keen, “That would be lovely,” she gushed.

It had been such a long time since she had accepted a date and if nothing more came of it, she sensed they would remain good friends. Visions of Rachel’s elated face as she sailed into the port of Marseille flashed before her.

At last she had something to strive for and all because of one little magazine. One stolen magazine she blushed.

August 25, 2020 11:16

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Len Mooring
23:20 Aug 27, 2020

You got me, girl. I wanted to scream at her, "Not a boat, buy an electric car, or a plane. I'm told that there are 2 shouts of joy concerning a boat, when you buy it and when you sell it. First-class story-telling.


Marilyn David
08:21 Aug 29, 2020

Thank you I am glad you liked it and I appreciate your comments.


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Jane Andrews
19:51 Sep 03, 2020

Well done on a beautifully written story (with just a couple of mistakes which I suspect are due to you typing quickly and not having time to check through since you have a good, flowing writing style). I think you built the atmosphere well and I like the way you drip fed us the back story - it made everything feel very natural. You did well to end on the hint of a possible Budding romance rather than take it further and show us what happened when they went to look at the boat - always leave your readers wanting more!


Marilyn David
11:06 Sep 08, 2020

Thank you very much for you kind comments. I know I have a lot to learn and yes I tend to get into the rhythm of writing quickly and I know I don’t take enough care when reading back. Same with texting😬 But I am learning each time I write a story.


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