I was driving from Aylesford on a Saturday afternoon in June many years ago. To save time I took the shepherds road from the bridge that took me the back way to Bluebell Hill. As I drove up the small narrow lane to the main road I saw on my left a lay-by sheltered by trees. Suddenly a young girl in a white bridal dress rushed out from the trees and frantically waved me down.
Angrily I stepped on the brakes and the car came to a stop whilst the girl leaned breathlessly against the radiator. Once she was sure I was not going to drive forward she came round to the passenger side of the car and motioned me to wind the window down.
Obeying her gestures I leaned over saying anxiously ‘Fool you know you could have been killed. What’s the matter?’
‘Please drive me to St Alban’s church in Bluebell Hill village.
You must get me there by Three O’clock.’
I was nonplussed, ‘Who are you? Who brought you here, did you come by car?’
‘I’m Lizzie, Lizzie Thorburn. My car broke down it’s in the lay-by. My father’s walking to the garage to see if we can get it collected and fixed. We must hurry I’m getting married in the church this afternoon.’
‘Yes but what happens when your father gets back and doesn’t find you .Won’t he be terribly worried?’
She thought about this briefly. ‘I’ll leave a message on the windscreen of my car saying where I’ve gone then it’ll be alright.’
I couldn’t very well refuse to take her so I waited whilst she went back to her car to leave the note. I didn’t actually see the car so it must have been well back off the road.
Soon she was back, quickly opening the door of the car and settling herself in the passenger seat beside me.
‘Hang on a minute’, I told her. ‘I just need to get my roadmap from the boot.’ I turned opened the door of the car and put my foot on the road.
‘No’, she screamed then pulled me back, her arms gripping tightly round my shoulders and neck. There was the long slow drawn out blare of a horn fading into the distance. A truck disappeared down the road in the direction from which I’d come. I’d never even seen it until it missed me by inches.
I sat back my face must have been white as a sheet. ‘What the hell, what the bloody hell!’ My heart was beating fast. She looked at me anxiously, ‘are you alright?’ I smiled weakly, ‘I think so, thank you ’
Slowly we pulled away and drove up the road. I have never driven so carefully before or since. ’Right now how do we get to St Alban’s church?’ I asked her once we were on our way.
Dutifully I followed the directions she gave and a little while later we were there.
Once parked in the churchyard I looked about me, then checked my watch. The time was 2.45 pm. We both got out of the car. As far as I could see the place was empty.
‘Are you sure the wedding is here? I asked. ‘After all we’re leaving it a bit late if it’s at 3.0 pm and no-one’s arrived except us.’
‘Oh yes’, she told me cheerily, ‘now we’ve arrived all we have to do is wait. But don’t worry I can stay on my own. You go about your business.’
‘But you’ll be all alone how will you get back??’
‘I’ll be fine. Just leave me here.’
Despite my misgivings, I agreed even though there were no signs of anyone else turning up. As I got back into the car she leaned in though the driver’s window and kissed me lightly on the cheek.
’That’s for helping me out. It means a lot to me. My wedding can go ahead as planned.’ My last view of Lizzie was her waving gaily as I exited the drive.
Life intrudes and I’d forgotten this incident until some years later when I was invited to a wedding held at the same church. After the wedding I got in conversation with the vicar.
‘How long have you been here?’ I asked him.
‘Oh ten years at least.’ He told me.
‘Then you must have married a girl here about five years ago, a Lizzie Thorburn, I wonder how she is now?’
At the mention of this name the vicar visibly started. ‘How did you know Lizzie?’ he queried.
’Well I didn’t exactly know her, I just gave her a lift here on her wedding day.’
Briefly I mentioned the circumstances and the date.
He looked at me carefully. ‘What’s the matter, why are you staring that way?’ I asked him.
He took me into his study on the way asking me to describe the girl I had met. Once there he took a photograph from a drawer in his desk and showed it to me.
‘Yes that’s her it’s even the dress she was wearing. How is she now?’
There was a strange look in his eyes as he took the photo back.
‘Lizzie was my sister. The date you saw her was to be her wedding day. She was driving up that road to see me a short while before when she broke down. She got down from the car to get help and a truck travelling in the opposite direction killed her instantly.’