Under Two Shires Oak – Episode 11

SOMETIMES, over that harsh winter, they all doubted the world would ever warm up again. But just a few months later, there Grace was, out in the sunshine and picking flowers!

Following their wedding, they moved to a house on the Yorkshire coast, which had also come to Phil from his paternal grandparents.

“They used it for holidays. I hope it won’t be too lonely for you,” he said.

Not a chance! Returning to the house with the flowers, Grace counted half-a-dozen people seated round her kitchen table.

Her kitchen! Her heart swelled with pleasure.

Inspired by the views from the house’s cliff-top position, Phil had painted some impressive seascapes. These, in turn, inspired his artist friends from London to travel up. The house had become quite a focus for them, and there seemed to be a constant stream of bohemian visitors.

Grace didn’t mind. She liked them. Immediately she entered a large, bearded chap called Jefferson poured her a cup of tea.

“I’ll put these in water first,” she said, indicating the flowers she had gathered.

As she arranged them, Phil came up behind her. His nearness still sent a thrill through her, no less than when she’d first sat for him in the outhouse he’d used as a studio at Alderarche Hall.

She smiled as her artist husband reached forward and moved a couple of the blooms. Just a little bit, but it made such a difference, bringing the display to life just as a brushstroke could change a painting.

“Yes, that’s much better,” came a female voice from the doorway.

Grace turned to the speaker, a thin, expensively dressed woman called Sabrina.

She corrected her earlier thought. Most of Phil’s friends she liked, but Sabrina . . . what was it about Sabrina?

“Of course, Grace doesn’t have our artistic training,” Sabrina continued in a pitying voice to Phil.

That was it – that was what riled Grace! Sabrina had never accepted her the way the others did.

“Actually, I don’t recall you taking art classes either,” Phil replied to their guest, his voice even but with a definite warning look in his eyes.

“No need for me to. You know art is in my blood, darling.”

Sabrina called everyone “darling”.

Except Grace.

And that was fine, for Grace would never have “darling-ed” Sabrina in return. She kept her endearments for her real friends.

*  *  *  *

Evie smiled as she read Grace’s letter. My dear Evie, I wish you could visit us . . .

Evie smiled as she read Grace’s letter. She would love to visit, too, especially now spring was here.

But there was no way she could afford it. She was pleased for Grace, though. The house sounded lovely.

“Not that there’s anything wrong with my own accommodation,” she said to herself with a wry grin as she gazed about the ramshackle caravan which she now called home.

In truth, she was grateful to have it. When the pit had closed her family lost their cottage. Her parents and the youngsters were still at her nan’s, but there hadn’t really been room for them all.

So when Evie had found out that the Daltons, their neighbours, were looking for a woman to work both in the farmhouse and out in the fields, with the caravan to live in, she had jumped at the chance.

It was a bigger farm than that of the Riggs, where she’d sometimes helped out, and that meant she could do long hours and send much-needed money to her mother.

Her dad still wasn’t working. Still hadn’t recovered. The cuts and burns had healed, just as it said they would in the textbook Sylvia, the nurse, had given to Evie when she had had ideas of going into nursing herself.  But his mind was going to take longer to recover, if indeed it ever would, from the terrible experience that he’d been through.


Alan Spink

I am a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. I enjoy working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, I also write fiction and enjoy watching football and movies in my spare time. My one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.