Under Two Shires Oak – Episode 22

THE next day Evie and Alan spent most of breakfast discussing the plans for the new lorry, and how this was only the beginning of their venture.

“I’ve to call in at the bank again this morning to sign some paperwork,” Alan said as he cut up some toast into soldiers for Julia’s boiled egg. “But I should be back soon.

He kissed Evie quickly, as he did every morning, then rushed out of the door. Julia charged after him before Evie could stop her.

“Julia, your breakfast!”

“Can we wave to Daddy?”

“Of course.” Evie opened the screen door and the two of them stood on the lawn, watching Alan get into the lorry just as George was walking towards them.

“Hello, George,” Evie said.

“Mornin’,” he called.

Evie wiped her hands on her apron, then waved at Alan just as Julia screamed out. She had been stung by something and was wailing. Alan heard her, turned off the engine and came back to see her.

“What happened, our Jewel?”

Evie lifted up her daughter.

“Just a wasp sting, I think. I’ll take her inside and see to it.”

“There’s a nest of ’em over there,” Alan said to Evie as he made his way towards an old shed. “See, it’s . . . ouch! One of the blighters has stung me now, same as our Jewel!”

Only it wasn’t the same. Evie saw that immediately. Alan’s mouth swelled and his face went red.

“My throat feels tight!” he said, struggling to speak.

Evie put Julia down and called to George.

“We must get him to hospital, George!” she told him, now panicking.

“Just a wasp sting . . . like . . . our Jewel,” Alan protested. “No need . . . hospital!”

His breathing was slowing down. Evie put her fingers on his wrist, searching for a pulse as Julia continued to cry.

“Get him in the taxi!” she instructed George.

She called to a neighbour, asking her to keep an eye on Julia.

“We won’t be long,” she said, hoping it was true.

The drive to the hospital was agonising as she held Alan in her arms, George driving as fast as he could.

*  *  *  *

It was the early hours of the following morning when Evie left the hospital, in a state of numb shock. George had taken Julia to his wife, while Evie had remained by Alan’s side.

“I love you,” she had told him again and again, stroking his hand, willing him to open his eyes.

The staff had worked hard to save him, but even their best efforts had proved futile. She had sat in the waiting-room for hours in shock. Her world had collapsed within minutes and there was nothing she could do. The man she loved was gone.

She had heard a shrill, whining noise that at first she’d thought was from someone else, until she’d realised it was coming from her. It was a wail of grief and despair.

She wasn’t sure exactly how long she’d been sitting there, sobbing, when she heard George opening the door and then sitting down beside her.

“Come on, duck,” he said, helping her to stand up. “Let’s get you home.”

“But he’s not there. And he won’t ever be! I’ll never hear his voice, never see his face . . .”

George put his arm around her.

“Julia is there. She’s part of Alan and she needs you now.”

She nodded blankly and let the old man lead her out of the hospital.

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”.