“I might be the luckiest girl in Scotland,” Fiona said as the girl in Tesco handed her the receipt and asked her if she had any plans for the rest of the day. The poor girl looked so downtrodden and fed up. And that calamity of a hairstyle! Poor dear. Fiona decided there would be no harm in sharing news of her own good fortune.
“I’ve just met the most perfect man and he’s invited me to stay with him on his very own island.”
“That’s nice,” said the girl who was already looking at the next customer and crooking a finger to beckon him through the two-metre distance marker. She had to change that to an open-palmed ‘halt’ when she realised Fiona was still talking to her.
“And what’s amazing is that I only met him last night. We were on a blind date, one of those computer-matching thingies, but we hit it off right away and now…”
“That’s nice,” said the checkout girl who realised her premature come-on to the next customer had created chaos in the queue as the line of twelve people all tried to move back to their original positions. She heard the crash of trolleys and more than a few swear words.
“And now this whole lockdown nonsense has been announced and I was absolutely hating the idea of living alone for the next three weeks and so Hamish, that’s his name, Hamish said I could come to his little island for the duration.”
“Uh huh, well, if you’ll excuse me, I need to…”
“Of course he’d had a bit to drink and I wondered if he might have been joking, but I phoned him first thing this morning to tell him how beautiful the dawn was looking and I asked him outright if he still felt the same way.”
“I’m sorry but…”
“And he was so funny, pretending he’d even forgotten my name and all that. Quite a tease, he is, but I do like a man with a sense of humour. Anyway, he’s picking me up tomorrow and that’s what made me remember that there’s late night shopping on a Thursday. So I’ve been in a mad whirl for the past few hours, picking the right things to wear for the island. I’ve got plenty of cocktail dresses of course, but most of them are last season, so I phoned Hamish again and asked him what I should bring. And do you know what he said?”
“Toilet rolls! What a hoot. Anyway, I thought I’ll show him I’ve also got a funny bone or two, so that’s why I came in here. That’s why I’ve bought all these loo rolls. Three twelve-packs. They only had two left on the shelf, but there was an old dear in one of those electric scooter contraptions. So I followed her around the aisles until the big multi-pack tumbled from her tiny basket. I’m quite the commando sometimes and it will be a funny story to tell Hamish in the morning.”
“Is there a problem here?”
The store manager had arrived, alerted by the logjam behind the till. Fiona didn’t much like the look of him with his clip-on tie and neck tattoos. He also gave off a whiff of cheap after-shave, probably the supermarket’s own brand she thought.
“No problem,” she told him, “Except this lovely girl here has been holding me back with all her chit-chat. Goodness, is that the time?”
Fiona had glanced at her wristwatch. It had been a gift from Daddy on her 21st birthday. Oh, he did spoil her! This cute Rolex for her birthday, the little BMW for Christmas…she was, indeed the luckiest girl in Scotland.
“It’s almost eight o’clock and I still have so much to do before tomorrow. I’ll be off then. Bye bye everyone.”
As she pushed her trolley away from the till, the people in the queue broke into a round of applause so she turned and gave them a little wave. How sweet of them! It was the same when she went outside. People were hanging from their windows, whistling and cheering and some were even banging pots and pans. But how could they have known? Was it written on her face that she was already, totally, madly in love?
She called Hamish three more times that night just to check a few details about the trip. Each time he took a little longer to answer, which was a tiny bit annoying. It was almost as if he couldn’t see the importance of her questions about swimming cozzies and hair straighteners, but her last call of the night was really urgent because she’d completely forgotten to tell him about Gooseberry.
“Gooseberry?” he had said, sounding a bit off-hand.
“Yes, Gooseberry. I forgot to tell you I would have to bring Gooseberry. He’s my dog, well, my best friend really.”
“I see,” said Hamish, “And what kind of dog is he?”
“Oh, Hamish, he’s the most adorable Irish Setter you have ever met. He’s my cuddle-chum.”
“And there’s no one who could look after him for you? Gooseberry, I mean.”
“Well that’s the thing. I completely forgot that Mummy and Daddy are away on one of their silly cruises. They set off weeks ago and now there’s been some kind of nonsense on board. They’re not letting people get off or fly home. Something about a virus. Mummy sounded quite upset about it all.”
“It’s the corona,” said Hamish
“No, no, it’s called the Ocean Princess or something like that. Anyway, that’s not the point. I will have to bring Gooseberry along. You don’t mind, do you? Tell me you don’t.”
“That’s fine,” said Hamish, “I’ll see you in the morning er…”
“Fiona. Silly boy!”
“Aye well, I’ll pick you up at half past eight, Fiona. So, you get some sleep, we’ll have a long drive ahead of us.”
“Oh, I can’t wait. Your island sounds so romantic. Just me and you and the crashing waves.”
“And Gooseberry” said Hamish and then the line went dead.
TO BE CONTINUED