Under Two Shires Oak – Episode 12

THE way things had gone, well, there was no chance of Evie training as a nurse now. But it was a price well worth paying for still having her dad around.

“So stop feeling sorry for yourself, Evie Maun,” she scolded.

Now, did she have some paper to write a letter back to Grace?

Rummaging on a shelf she’d erected, she found some, and also took down the textbook about which she’d just been thinking. Pressed within its pages were the three leaves that she’d taken from the old oak the last time that she, Grace and Francesca had been together.

Despite the no-nonsense words to herself, a tear sparkled bright in the eyes that were almost as dark as Evie’s coal-black hair.

Her concentration on the letter was interrupted by a vehicle trundling past – a large vehicle, from the noise. When it returned a few minutes later, she went to the door. Couldn’t a body have a bit of peace in their own home?

But maybe the driver was lost. Not many folk ever came down the leafy lane that led to the caravan.

As she emerged, the lorry stopped and a man got out. He was large and had a slight limp, but was quick-moving for all that. Evie gasped as she recognised him.


“Evie! How are you? I asked Tom Rigg about you and he said your dad had survived the explosion at the pit, but that you’d all moved. So when I heard you were working for old man Dalton . . .”

Leaving the sentence unfinished, he reached out to shake her hand.

She remembered holding his hand at the pit head on that awful night, before he had left to see if he could help. It had been like that – complete strangers had turned up to do what they could.

She invited him in for a cup of tea. He was her first visitor to the caravan and she felt oddly proud of it, thinking it looked quite pretty when she lighted a lamp against the fading evening light.

“You’re certainly a hard worker,” he said approvingly to her as she described her present life to him.

“I want to get on,” she replied simply.

“I’m sure you will, Evie.” He stood up. “Thank you for the tea. I must go now. I’ve a load to pick up in Derby.”

“You’re working nights?”

“And days. All hours.” It was he who now looked proud. “It’s my own lorry!”

Evie was impressed. From what he’d told her, Alan came from a background no more privileged than hers. But here he was – a man with his own business!

She accompanied him to the lorry. The dark sky, she noticed, was sequinned with stars, just as when they’d first met.

“Perhaps I could call by again when I’m passing?”

“You’ll be welcome, Alan.”

She remained outside for a while after he’d driven off.

He’d said he’d asked Tom Rigg about her. The idea grew on her that, maybe, he’d been trying to find her. Then she dismissed it. No time to be daydreaming, girl!

But before she went back into her little home, she stole another look at the stars and remembered Sylvia saying that miracles did happen.

So maybe daydreams did come true, as well?

*  *  *  *

Alan returned on Sunday evening and they went for a walk together in the nearby woods.

That became a regular thing through into autumn, with Evie preparing them a bite to eat at the end, maybe soup from the vegetables she got from the farm. She told Francesca and Grace all about him in her letters.

So you’re dating! Francesca wrote in reply.

Evie supposed you could call it that, though theirs were frugal dates, even by the modest standards of the immediate post-war years. But Alan was ploughing all his spare money back into the business and she fully understood that.

One Wednesday, when she was writing to Francesca, he turned up unexpectedly at the caravan.

“I was in the area,” he said. He glanced at the sheet of paper. “What good handwriting!”

Evie knew that it was neat and easy to read. But she herself preferred Francesca’s, all curly and artistic even if it was barely legible.

“I wish mine were better,” Alan continued. “I hate doing all the paperwork for the business.”

“I’ll help you.”

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”.