The Welcome Light
Tonight, thought David Morrell to
himself, we can celebrate. He had expected good news from the consultant at the
out-patients clinic. But it had been more than being given the all clear. They
had actually discharged him. When he left the hospital hed telephoned Mary and told
her that it was all over. They could pick up their lives again.
And how was your day? hed
asked, Was the presentation a success?
Davey they gave me a
standing ovation! I knew Id got something good for them, but really I was
was overwhelmed. But thats nothing. I am so, so glad that youre well again at
last. Its been dreadful for you. And Im so sorry I wasnt with you today
How typical of Mary. Self effacing,
selfless. She, the quiet one, who always looked understated. He knew from her colleagues,
and what he had read about her, that she was fast becoming a world leader in her field.
When will you get home?
my train leaves in an
hour. So itll be about 7.30 I guess.
I cant wait! Weve so
much to talk about. Ill walk in to town and get us something to celebrate with. And
Ill have the welcome light on for you!
The welcome light! David smiled to
himself. Was it ever not on for him? It seemed
strange that a top scientist should attach such significance to it. It was like a
superstition. He had gently teased her about it, and shed blushed faintly. Not
really, shed told him. It was always a tradition in my family.
David thought he understood. Mary was
one of a large family. Her father had been in the Merchant Navy and was often away for
months at a time. For her mother the welcome light had been a sort of a talisman, to
guarantee her husbands safe homecoming. It burned in an upstairs window from the
moment he left the house, until his return.
The train was only half full. He found
a window seat. For the first half hour of the journey he read his newspaper. When the last
straggling suburbs gave way to open fields he stared out across the countryside,
reflecting on how fortunate he had been. He had had a narrow escape, he knew, and at no
small cost. After what the doctors had had to do, he and Mary knew that they could never
have children of their own. She had made little of this when he had told her, but he knew
that it must have been a blow. Some things just arent meant to be, Davey.
And shed not talked about it again.
The journey west brought a change in
the weather, and when at last he stepped down on to the platform he drew his coat around
him and pulled his umbrella from his briefcase. He hurried across to the car park, dodging
puddles. He threw his coat on to the back seat of his car, started the engine and waited
for the fan to clear the mist from the windscreen. Then he eased the car out of the
parking space and tuned the radio in to a local station hoping to hear the weather
forecast. He caught the tail end of the news report
the resolution of a dispute at
a local factory, a fatality at a pedestrian crossing. Poor devil thought
David. Some of these drivers are just crazy. He turned up the volume as the
forecast came on. A stormy night was in the offing it seemed. Thank God for a warm house
and a warm welcome. Like Marys father, he felt that he was returning home again
after a long journey.
At last he turned into the lane where
he and Mary lived. At any moment now he would see it, the welcome light, calling him, as
it were, to shelter and safety and the comfort of a good woman.
But only utter darkness lay ahead, and with it the stark realisation that he faced the end of his world.
Henry Tegner May 2010
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