by Karen Gilleland © 2014
This story hints of romantic stirrings between Morwenna and Trenton Collingsworth, the med student from FanFiction #20, “Badge of Honor.”
In “Doc Martin” Series 4, we learned that Martin had wanted to marry Edith Montgomery, played brilliantly in the series by Lia Williams. Curious as to how Martin might have proposed to Edith, I’ve imagined a scene that I think best fits his character.
Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the United States.
“Trenton Collingsworth just telephoned,” she answered.
“That student who shadowed me for a week? Why didn’t you put him through to the office?”
“He was calling me, actually.”
Morwenna dropped her phone into her bag and straightened papers before saying, “Trenton’s invited me to the Winter Ball at Imperial College.”
“I see,” said Martin, covering his surprise by walking over to the filing cabinet.
“When Trenton was here, we ate lunch together, socialized a bit at the Crab & Lobster. I suppose he was lonely,” she said, playing with a pen.
Shifting to look at Martin, she said, “He’s intense. I guess all med students are.” Morwenna raised her eyebrows, but Martin ignored her questioning look. She continued, as though arguing with herself. “Trenton has a different sense of humor. He keeps you off balance. At the same time, he has such a hearty laugh, you can’t help laughing with him.”
“Can’t say I noticed,” murmured Martin, pulling out two patient files and closing the drawer.
“I expect if Granddad had heard him laugh, he would have chuckled and said Trenton was full of the devil. Granddad enjoyed people who made him laugh.”
Martin turned to walk away, but Morwenna spoke quickly, “I’ve only been to London once, on a school trip. Trenton said I could stay with his sister, Marigold. She has a flat in Chelsea. Still, I don’t know.”
Martin stood quiet, head lowered over the note cards, thinking, Please don’t ask me. I am no good at this kind of advice.
“’Doc,’ do you think I should go?”
He looked at Morwenna and sighed, remembering that she had no family to talk things over with. “Come into the office.”
When she was seated across the desk from him, Martin said, “The Winter Ball at Imperial is a grand event. It’s a compliment to be invited. Why are you hesitant about going?”
Morwenna shrugged, her hands turned up. “I like Trenton well enough, but I don’t really know him. What if he’s inviting me just to make some other girl jealous?”
Rubbing his eyes, Martin said, “I can’t believe Trenton would go to so much trouble to make a girl jealous. He could invite any number of girls in London if that were his intention.”
“You’re probably right. He is smart and handsome, and he does have that killer smile.”
Martin hunched his shoulders, squirmed in his chair, and finally pushed the words out, “Are you afraid Trenton might try to take advantage of you?”
“No, no, nothing like that,” Morwenna’s eyes twinkled. “I actually won’t see him except at the dance. He’s on deadline for an assignment and can’t take time off. I’ll spend most of the time with Marigold.”
“Sounds sensible. What’s the problem?”
“There is Al–” she broke off, biting her lip.
Martin filled the silence by asking, “What about Al? Are you two going together?”
“Not really, but–”
“If you and Al don’t have an understanding, you’re free to date anybody you like.”
“Yes, I know you’re right,” but her voice contradicted her words.
The front door opened, and Martin called out, “Who is it? Surgery is closed.”
“Hi, ‘Doc,’” said Al, coming to the consulting room. “I was looking for Morwenna.” He spotted her and said, “There you are. We’ll be late if we don’t hurry.” He turned to Martin, “We’re going to a movie in Delabole.”
Glancing at the flush on Morwenna’s face, Martin wondered if she cared more for Al than she admitted. He looked at the smile on Al’s face and agreed that Al would not like her going to a dance with Trenton in London. Not my concern, he told himself and waved a hand, “Enjoy the movie.”
Martin stayed at his desk, chin resting on his tented fingers. The Winter Ball triggered vivid pictures in his mind. He and Edith. They’d been going out together since the first year of med school. She’d been the mover and shaker in the relationship, the one with the plans, the ideas about what they should do in their free time. He’d been happy to fall in with her plans.
Of course, neither one had much free time. Most often, he and Edith studied together, worked on projects together, occasionally, he admitted, spent time in her bedroom together. They had never discussed marriage. He’d just assumed they would marry after graduation and work in London.
Scenes of their last Winter Ball flashed behind his eyelids, like a painting by Toulouse-Lautrec. Edith in a tight-fitting, black gown, sparkly shoes, red hair smelling of orange blossoms, eyes smiling up at him, body pressing against him as they danced.
When the orchestra took a break, he had guided her back to their small table in the corner. A candle flickering in the centerpiece. Slices of Battenberg cake set on gold-rimmed dessert plates. He and Edith sipping sparkling cider and toasting a bright future.
His shoulders shuddered as he recalled how he’d pulled a package from his pocket, opened the box and took out the ring. Before any words had been spoken, Edith’s eyes had widened in horror. She’d reached over and covered the ring with her hand, shaking her head.
“Ellingham, please don’t take this personally,” she’d said. “If I were going to marry anyone, it would be you. But I don’t plan to marry. I’ve accepted a post at McGill, and I’ll leave for Canada the week after graduation.”
He’d felt embarrassed, confused, and words had tumbled out, “You never said–” “I thought we’d–” “Why didn’t you tell me–”
Edith had smiled, held up her hands, palms toward him, and said in her breezy manner, “I didn’t want to spoil our final weeks together.”
And that was that. He’d returned the ring to Hatton Garden and studiously avoided contact with Edith. The only person he’d confided in was Auntie Joan, when she attended his graduation. Odd, he thought, as he looked back, he couldn’t recall any feelings of sadness or regret.
Martin pulled his mind back abruptly when Louisa came to the office door, carrying James, who was screaming and tugging at his ear. “Martin, James feels hot to me. Will you examine him?”
Martin stood up, took out a thermometer and checked James’ temperature. “Yes, he is feverish. I think he may have an ear infection.” Martin picked up his otoscope and confirmed his diagnosis.
“I’ll pick up antibiotics at the chemist’s,” he said, turning toward the door. “While I’m gone, you might give James a cool bath.”
Walking down the hill, Martin heard country music floating in the air from Bert Large’s restaurant. Bar-b-que night, he remembered. He walked past, but the strains of Garth Brook’s “Unanswered Prayers” stuck in his head. He knew why. The song had been Edith’s favorite.
Next morning, Martin was fixing coffee when Louisa brought the baby into the kitchen. “James seems quite cool now,” she told Martin.
“Yes, I checked his temperature before I came down. He’s fine, but he’ll need antibiotics for the next three days.”
“Handy being married to a doctor, isn’t it, James?” Louisa cooed to the baby.
Martin looked at the two of them and shrugged. “So that’s why you married me?”
Louisa put James into the highchair and walked over to Martin. “Amongst other things,” she said, kissing his cheek.
Martin heard the front door open, and Morwenna came into the kitchen.
“Morning, ‘Doc,’ Louisa, James,” she said, tickling James’ chin. She poured herself a cup of coffee and followed Martin into his office.
Morwenna sat down across from Martin, “I told Al I was going to the dance with Trenton in London. Al wasn’t happy.”
“Did I make a mistake?”
“Morwenna, if Al and Trenton were standing here together, which one would you choose to go out with?”
She didn’t speak for several seconds. “I’m not sure,” Morwenna answered, frowning.
“In that case, I’d advise you to go to the dance in London and continue to see Al here in Portwenn. You’re very young. You have worlds of time to fall in love. In the meantime, date lots of young men until you meet the person you would choose over anyone else in the world.”
Morwenna sat back in the chair, eyes wide. “You are amazing, ‘Doc.’ You’re absolutely right. Thank you.” She slid out of the chair, smiled at him and walked out of the office.
Not so amazing, thought Martin, images flittering through his mind. Edith in the hotel room in Exeter. Louisa, pregnant, suitcase in hand, walking down the hill, away from him. He’d known at that moment, with absolute certainty, he would choose Louisa over any other woman in the world.
Sometimes I do thank God for unanswered prayers, he said to himself, discarding thoughts of his ill-fated proposal to Edith.
— THE END —
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