Morning September 1st
'Go. You will not get the chance again.'
'What do I tell Elinor?'
'I will tell her not to ring you. If you want to ring her, she cannot ask you for anything. You have a new life now. Keep me updated and visit. But not soon.'
Of course the café was in good hands, Frieda was a genius with baked goods and was a canny profit maker. But it was a wrench to leave behind all she had ever known for the past several years.
'If you do not take what makes you truly happy then you are not living' said Frieda, sealing Serena's choice. She was finally free to please herself and she could choose to have what she wanted. She wanted Bernie. All that distance between them had only intensified her feelings, yet she'd been frightened to vocalise it to the most important person. They'd watched each other but hadn't spoken words. Just exchanged looks in silence. The night before, a note had been slipped through the door and Serena had read it, every eventuality going round in her head until she felt like she would combust. Frieda had urged her to do something adventurous for once and had thrown her neglected suitcase at her. Helped her to pack.
'I like this house. I will pay the rent and live in it. Leave old bag's things to me. I will dispose of them.'
Frieda had decided. Serena should have felt pushed out but she didn't. A weight was lifted off her shoulders. She grabbed her suitcase filled with the photographs, her few clothes and cosmetics, the few household items left to her. She embraced her assistant for the first time and started hesitantly walking down the garden path. The canal was in sight and turning round the corner, there was the Wolfesbane, ready to leave and sail calmingly away. Bernie, dressed in her trusty denim dungarees was checking the rope, clearly intent on going if Serena didn't want her. She looked mournful.
'I do want to' said Serena, stopping by the closest side. Bernie jumped and looked up. She had been so far into her thoughts she hadn't heard a thing. She'd cried herself to sleep the night before, not knowing if she'd see Serena again. She didn't think she'd take a chance on a wandering electrician. She let the rope fall from her fingers and looked hopefully at her.
'I didn't mean to freeze you out. But I needed time to think.'
'I know.' Bernie was softly forgiving.
'You're right. I need a new start. And if the last few months have taught me anything, it told me that I need to take this opportunity with you. I don't want to be without you. I'll go anywhere with you. If there's room for me.'
In her wildest dreams Bernie didn't think Serena would tell her that. She'd been quietly hoping but as the days slipped past, had resigned herself to sailing away without her. The rush of exhilaration went to her head as she exclaimed her confirmation.
'Yes. Yes, yes, yes!'
She reached over and hauled the suitcase over the side, then leaned over for Serena's hand. That jolt of electricity between them hadn't faded, it was a good shock and in that moment they'd both known that they'd made the risk worth it. Serena climbed aboard and threw herself at Bernie, mouth on hers and fingers running through her hair. They didn't leave for a while yet, the early Autumn sunshine seeping through their veins and setting them alight.
That was the last that Frieda saw of her former manager for a long while. Joyfully kissing the handsome stranger on her boat as they prepared to sail into the distance. She smiled with satisfaction and raced to Serena's old bedroom to lean out of the window to watch them go. Despite her goth ways, she did like a happy ending.