The alarm clock buzzed, waking Sandra with a start. She started work at 7am, and usually got out of bed around 5am to have breakfast and get ready. Sandra lived on an island in the outer Hebrides, and because it was winter, it was still dark at five o’clock. She lived alone in a small house inherited from her uncle Tam, just up from the only shop on the island, which sold everything one could possibly need; groceries, alcohol, postage stamps and, for the visitor, souvenirs. It had been hard settling in, as she was viewed as an incomer, but once she began working at the cottage hospital, gradually she became part of the community, as people got to know her.
Sandra opened the curtains in the sitting room, and she could see the lighthouse shining brightly in the distance. Outside, she heard a loud noise; in the darkness she couldn’t see anything. The shop opened at six am, but the owner lived above the store; who could it be? The kettle clicked and Sandra made some tea and toast ( proper breakfast at work), thinking nothing more of the noise.
She left to live on the island when Tam died, leaving behind an embittered extended family, who were totally obsessed with money. When Sandra inherited the house and everything that her uncle owned, her siblings were outraged. Sandra was the only one to visit Tam over the previous ten years. Through the years, they became close and Tam decided that Sandra would inherit everything as he had no children of his own.
She heard the noise again, and this time she felt afraid, even though it was unlikely to have an intruder so early in the morning. It was time to leave for work. Putting on her winter coat, Sandra picked up a hammer, just in case she had to defend herself. She unlocked the door and slowly opened it, peeking out before she eventually had the courage to step outside. There was another noise and Sandra could feel the hairs on her neck standing. Her heart was pounding and she had the sudden urge to run back inside and lock the door. But she would be late for work if she did this, and she ran quickly to her car in the driveway. When Sandra reached the car, she was startled by another noise, and when she turned around, she was astounded to see three of the island’s wild ponies in her garden. The ponies roam the island all year round, but in the winter, they look for food from humans. They were very beautiful; one was black and the other two were a striking white. Sandra laughed out loud, and got some carrots from the garage to feed them. This was the first time that she had encountered the ponies up close, and she thought to herself, ‘I suppose I must qualify as an islander, now that the ponies know me.’