The Causeway and Listen to Love

News of my latest release below, but first a short story. A friend was travelling across a causeway when the weather broke. Her eerie selfie inspired this story,
‘The Causeway.’

Causeway over road 1.2.20

After a lovely day, the weather broke as I was halfway across the causeway. Torrential rain pounded onto the roof of the car, and the windscreen wipers had a hard job keeping up. It was probably just as well there was no other traffic as visibility decreased to zero.

For a moment I considered retracing my route and finding shelter somewhere until the storm blew over, but it was too risky to consider making a U-turn. I didn’t want to drive straight over the top and end up in the swirling waters below.

I’d travelled this route several times, and it usually only took ten or fifteen minutes, but inching along at a snails’ pace, it seemed never ending. By now dusk was falling but it was impossible to decide if the pitch black was due to the night or the weather.

After what seemed hours, the rain lifted slightly to be replaced by a damp, murky fog, but at least I was able to recognise the clump of trees which signified the start of the B road leading to civilisation. Even at ten miles an hour I should hit the motorway before too long, and the bright lights of the service station at the following junction were inspiration to keep going for a while longer.

The car had other ideas. A chug followed by a whine shook me out of my reverie, and I stamped on the accelerator to stop the engine from dying. It spluttered as I tried to control the skid caused by the wet roads, and ended up facing the way I had come, on the other side of the carriageway. Was it good news or bad there were still no other cars in sight?

At least I hadn’t crashed into anyone, but there was nobody around to help. My foot was shaking but I needed to keep the engine ticking over, while I tried to reach into the back seat for my handbag. It was definitely a bonus no one saw my contortions as I finally managed to hook the strap of my bag and drag it towards me.

My mobile felt damp as I took it out, praying there was still sufficient charge to phone for help. Who should I call? Ghostbusters? Now was not the time for frivolity, and I realised I was more shaken than I thought. I didn’t have the number of any local garage, but if all else failed I could dial 999. They might not be best pleased, but it was an emergency of sorts. Just as I realised there was no signal the engine died completely. Now what could I do?

The force of the wind took me by surprise as I opened the car door and stepped out. Although it had cleared the mist, my hair blowing in my eyes half-blinded me as I frantically waved the phone around trying to make a connection. All I managed to do was take a selfie of my reflection against the car window, as I frantically jabbed at buttons. It was no use, there was no response and I was freezing. Reluctantly, I got back into the car, and to pass the time looked at the photo I had inadvertently taken. It was weird the way it looked as if I was underwater, with seaweed framing my expression.

A tap at the window made me jump as a face loomed at me through the side glass.

‘You OK, love? I saw your car parked there and it didn’t seem a good day for a picnic. Do you need any help?’

Although I hadn’t seen his approach, the middle-aged man holding a dog’s lead appeared like a rescuing angel.

‘My car’s died. I can’t get my phone to work, and I don’t know who I could phone anyway,’ I sobbed, ashamed at the way I had fallen to pieces.

‘Just as well I came along then,’ he said as a big black Labrador bounded up to him. ‘Enough walkies for today, Max. We’ve a lady in distress to rescue. My name’s John Simpson. I run the garage in the village and as I’ve got the pick-up with me, we should have you fixed in no time. Hop into the cab while I hook your car up; that’s as long as you don’t mind sharing the front seat with Max.’

‘Thanks, so much, John. I’m Amy by the way, and I love dogs. Sorry to be such a wimp.’

‘Nice to meet you, Amy. And don’t you worry. Anyone would be scared stuck out here, all on their own. There’s been a few nasty incidents in this spot. Right, let’s get you sorted.’

An hour later I was sitting in the snug of a quaint country pub, with an overflowing plate of Sunday roast in front of me. John had dropped me off there, and left me in front of the blazing log fire while he took my car to his garage to see what was wrong. By the time I’d finished eating, the wind had died and I was gazing out at a beautiful night sky when my mobile rang.

‘Hi, Amy. It’s John. All done and I’ve left your car in the car park of the pub with the keys in the ignition. It was only some moisture in the electrics. Not surprising with the rain we’ve had today, but I’ve tested it out and you shouldn’t have any more problems.’

‘John, that’s fantastic. Thank you. How much do I owe you, and how do I get it to you?’

‘No charge, Amy. Just count it as a debt repaid. Goodbye and have a good life.’

‘John, you can’t do that. At least let me….’ but I was talking to a dead line.

‘Looks like you enjoyed that,’ the landlord said as he cleared my empty plate. ‘Everything alright?’

‘It was wonderful, thank you,’ I replied. ‘I’ve just thought of something. Do you know someone called John Simpson? He’s got a Labrador named Max, and runs a garage somewhere around here.’

The landlord gave me a funny look, before asking if I could manage some home-made apple and blackberry pie with custard. It was only after I’d let him talk me into it, and he put the dessert in front of me, that he answered my question.

‘Sad affair, that,’ he said. ‘John was well liked and respected around here. Always ready to lend a helping hand, and letting people off paying if they were hard up. I don’t know how he managed to keep the garage afloat. He’ll be sorely missed.’

‘What do you mean “missed”?’ I asked, puzzled by his use of the past tense.

‘The police have closed the case,’ the landlord replied, ‘but it seems he was giving his dog a run despite the terrible weather, when he came across a woman skidding towards the cliff. He jumped in front of her just before she went over the edge, and managed to push the car to safety, but lost his footing and went over, taking the dog with him. They both drowned. Terrible tragedy.’

‘When did this happen,’ I asked, feeling a shiver run up my spine.

‘Funny you should mention that. It was a year ago to the very day. Would you like a coffee to finish off your meal?’

© Voinks October 2019

I’m delighted to announce my latest collection of short stories with a romantic theme, ‘Listen to Love’  is now available on Amazon in time for Valentine’s Day.

Final cover Listen to Love ebook 1 Red, blue, black 3.2.20

‘Listen to Love’ Amazon UK
‘Listen to Love’ Amazon US

Sign up for my newsletter if you would like to be considered for my advance reader team, and the opportunity to read a free copy. 

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If you enjoyed this story you might want to check out my books, available on Amazon in eBook and paperback format, and free with Kindle unlimited: 

Val Portelli/Voinks author page

See you next week.

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