New Horizons

Shutterstock © Older woman opening window and looking out Illustration: Shutterstock


She’d provided a haven for her granddaughter – but once she left for uni, when would she see her again?

Pam opened the kitchen door, cradling her mug of coffee. Crisp leaves rustled underfoot as she ventured further along the path. She was glad of her warm cardigan. The sky above was pale, a cobweb of fine white trails traced lightly across it.

Pam nodded to herself. It was going to be a lovely autumn day when the sun warmed the chill morning air. She could feel it in her bones. She might even be able to hang the sheets out.

A startled blackbird darted back into the hedgerow, its cheerful song chiming with her optimistic thoughts.

Her granddaughter, Lilly, would be driving to Cardiff University later and Pam was determined to give her a good send-off. She had baked Lilly’s favourite chocolate cake and packed it carefully in a brand new turquoise tin. Her daughter, Sue, had suggested that a cake would be the best housewarming present.

“It’ll break the ice and help her make friends when she arrives,” Sue had assured her. “Everyone loves chocolate, don’t they?”

Pam’s husband, Neville, would have been the first to agree. She wished he were here to see Lilly off with her. He would have been proud to know that his eldest granddaughter had reaped the rewards for two years of hard work, and made the grades for university.

Pam sniffed and patted her pockets in search of a handkerchief. She missed Neville and she would miss Lilly too. She was a thoughtful girl, often calling in to Pam’s bungalow on her way home from school to see how she was doing.

Pam’s heart had always lifted at the sound of Lilly’s footsteps tramping up the drive in her Doc Martin boots.

“It’s me! Put the kettle on, Gran!” she would call out as she dumped her heavy rucksack in the porch. She liked to rustle up strong coffee for them both on the complicated espresso machine Sue had given her mum for Christmas. Lilly was the only one who could make it work so Pam usually left the drinks to her granddaughter while she laid the tray and found the tastiest biscuits.

Pam enjoyed their long chats on the sofa or the wooden bench in her garden, depending on the weather. Lilly was often bubbling with news after a long day and had plenty of anecdotes to make Pam laugh. Sue had to pick up Lilly’s two younger brothers from their after-school clubs on her way home from the office so Lilly was happy to while away half an hour with her gran. Perhaps that was why Pam had been the first to hear about Lilly’s study woes when she was getting ready for her A-Levels.

Honestly Gran, it’s like Piccadilly Circus at our place!

“If it’s not Sam kicking his football against the wall under my window, then I’ve got Josh in my bedroom, bending my ear about when he can get back on the laptop to play his stupid computer games. They just don’t get it, Gran!”

Pam’s dining room had been the obvious solution. She rarely used it these days anyway, as she preferred to eat her meals on the smaller table in the kitchen. It had become a sanctuary for Lilly’s revision. In the months leading up to the main exams, Lilly had come round more and more, especially after she went on study leave from school.

The bungalow already felt quiet without her. What would it be like when Lilly was away for a whole term at a time at university? Pam wondered.

A car hooted loudly right outside the front door and Pam rushed out. Lilly’s mum was at the wheel, grinning. Every inch of the back seat and boot seemed to be crammed with a hotchpotch of bags and boxes, pillows and cushions. Pam could even spot a new bicycle basket, sticking out from behind Lilly’s guitar case.

“We can hardly fit me in!” Lilly exclaimed, giving Pam a big hug. “But don’t worry, I’m going to balance the tin on my lap so the cake won’t get squashed. I love it! Thanks, Gran.”

Pam gave her granddaughter an affectionate peck on the cheek.

“You take good care now, I’m going to miss you,” Pam admitted, with an uncharacteristic burst of emotion. “I want to hear all about university when you get back at Christmas!”

“I can’t wait until then, Gran!” Lilly reassured her. “Mum has promised to bring you up to Cardiff in a few weeks and show you where I am. We can go to the theatre at the Bay. You’ll like that!”

Pam waved them off with a lighter heart than she had expected. She liked the sound of a show, and she had never been to the capital of Wales. New horizons were not just for students. Maybe she had more to discover too.

September 5 2023 issue
Each week in the pages of My Weekly we bring you brilliant fiction – from heartwarmers to cosy crime and big name author exclusives. In this week’s 100-page bumper issue, on sale from September 5, we have seven brilliant fiction stories to share! Click here to subscribe and have your copy delivered.


Allison Hay

I joined the "My Weekly" team thirteen years ago and, more recently, "The People's Friend". I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazines. I manage the digital content for the brands, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters.