Under The Elm Tree – Episode 13

KITTY turned, her heart beating wildly. It was him – the stranger from the shop. How handsome he looked, she thought. He was dressed in a suit and tie, his dark hair combed neatly from a side parting. Strains of “Dancing Cheek To Cheek” filled the air.

“The foxtrot’s my favourite.” He smiled. “I’d be honoured if you would dance it with me.”

His smile was irresistible, and before she knew it, she was moving round the room in his arms. He danced with grace and precision and they moved as if they’d danced together all their lives.

“Do forgive me, I haven’t even introduced myself,” he said, looking down at her. “Thomas Dodd. My friends call me Tam.”

“Kitty Bloomfield.”

He smiled.

“Pleased to meet you, Kitty.” They were silent for a moment as he manoeuvred them around the crowded dance floor. “How is your father?” he asked, pulling her closer still to avoid an inexperienced couple bumping by. “The lady in the shop told me he’s pretty shaken up.”

“He’s been very lucky, though he can’t see that yet. He hates having to stay in bed, even though he’s in pain. It’s making him very bad tempered.” She smiled.

The rhythm of the dance took them again and they were silent for a while.

“Did the aniseed twists help your cough?” she asked finally.

“As a matter of fact, they did,” he said, leaning back to look down at her. Her heart fluttered. How very close he was.

“Are you staying in Wembury?” she asked, to steady her thoughts.

“Yes, indeed, with my aunt and uncle. I’ve had a bad bout of pneumonia,” he explained. “I normally live with my parents in Sheffield, but they’ve sent me down here to recuperate. They think my lungs will benefit from the clean southern air,” he explained with a smile, and as if to reinforce what he’d said, he turned his head as a cough gripped him.

“Do excuse me,” he said when it had passed.

“Don’t worry. Would you like to sit this one out?”

“No, I wouldn’t,” he replied, drawing her close again.

“Who are your aunt and uncle?” she asked. “Perhaps I know them. Wembury’s a small place.”

The dance came to an end, but another foxtrot immediately began and he swept her onwards.

“I’m sure you do. My uncle is Colonel Stonethwaite,” he replied.

“Oh.” Kitty’s heart sank. People like the Stonethwaites didn’t mix with working-class people like her. Disappointment swept over her. She’d so have liked Tam for a friend.

But it seemed her companion had more modern ideas.

“I’m getting the feeling that my aunt and uncle aren’t the most popular people in the village!” He laughed. “You mustn’t mind them too much. They’re a bit starchy, but they’re pretty decent underneath.”

He twirled her round.

“I do a bit of painting,” he said, changing the subject. “I was wondering if you would show me around – weather permitting, of course. The countryside around here is very beautiful.”

Before she could answer, the music died away. As he led her off the dance floor, she suddenly had the sense that someone was staring at her.

She looked up.

It was Sid. He was standing by the bar, glaring daggers at them.


Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.