Echoes From The Past – Episode 59

The wedding finally finished, and the guests departed in a howling gale. Measures were taken to secure the marquee, though it was problematic, and the wedding organisers were hoping against hope that the whole thing wouldn’t land in the heather garden by the morning, if not even further afield. Holly drove home with the wipers on at double speed, feeling the van move across the road in an alarming fashion. Never had she been gladder to see Bea’s handsome stone house on the horizon. There was no sign of Angela’s car. Bea must have insisted that she went home before the storm reached its height.

A spectacularly wild night followed, which wakened Holly at regular intervals, although Bea slept through the lot. It was lunchtime next day before Holly’s mobile rang.

“Holly? It’s Dan.”

“Oh.” A thousand reactions set in. For a start, it was Daniel, and she was in a real quandary about him. And then there was the whole Fiona thing.

“How are you?” she said, and rushed on. “Is the castle still standing?”

“The castle is fine, and the marquee is surprisingly undamaged. But sadly the beech tree is down.”

“Oh, no! Not the beech!” Holly felt unexpected tears spike her lashes.

“My mother says you’ve not to alter the hanging. She wants the beech tree in it.”

Holly gave a half laugh.

“I’m glad of that. The work’s going well, you can tell your mum.”

“Delighted to hear it. However,” Daniel went on, “that’s not why I’m phoning. Fiona had a long talk with me this morning.”

“I see.”

“I can’t believe what’s happened. It’s – well, it’s deeply unpleasant.”

“I’m sure it must be.”

“The thing is, do you still have the photograph on your mobile?”

“Sure. I’ll delete it if you like, but at the moment it’s still there.”

“Could you e-mail it to me? Or even better, bring it over? I’d really like to speak to you about all this, not on a phone.”

She made a quick decision.

“I’ll come. I’d like to see the tree.”

Aunt Bea was progressively more happy to be left, and Holly set out for Dunskillen. The road had been cleared of debris, though the drive down to the castle itself still had bits of branches and twigs and bright new leaves lying around. It had been a monumental storm.

In the end, the subject of Fiona was dispensed with quite quickly. Daniel looked at the photograph and made a face of disgust.

“I’m sorry, Dan,” Holly said, feeling more uncomfortable by the minute. “It was none of my business really, but I just felt –”

“No, no. You did the right thing. And thank you.” He straightened his shoulders. “Anyway, enough of that. I’ve told Fiona I won’t press charges this time, but I don’t want her on the estate, either. So she’s going.”

“Where to?”

“I’ve no idea. Her parents’ place, probably, for the moment. I don’t want her here.” He looked directly at Holly.

Holly felt a surge of relief.

“Now, let me show you the tree,” he said, dismissing Fiona for ever.

They set off round the castle, reaching the old mediaeval wall which had only yesterday been overshadowed by the massive tree. Fortunately, the beech had fallen away from the castle, its root system missing the wall by a couple of metres, though its branches had obliterated a herbaceous border and scoured a rockery.

“Look at it!” Daniel exclaimed. “How am I ever going to get everything in order for the television programme?”

“Gracious. I’d forgotten about that. You’ve got time, though, haven’t you?”

Daniel gave her a rueful smile.

“Yes, they won’t be coming till later in the summer. But it will be some job just the same. And even after we move the tree, there’s only me and Eric to fix the garden.”

Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!