Under Two Shires Oak – Episode 23

THE next few days remained a blur in Evie’s mind of all that had happened and how quickly everything had changed. When she woke up in the morning she kept expecting Alan to be there. Once she remembered, it was like hearing the news that he was gone all over again. The only thing that kept her calm was the little girl who had lost her father.

Julia, not understanding what had happened, asked often what time Daddy would be home. Evie had explained that he had gone to heaven, but the words only resonated with the little girl for a few minutes.

In the immediate aftermath they had stayed with George and his equally kind wife, Ginny. Now, the evening before the funeral, they were back in their own home. Julia was asleep upstairs and Evie washing the dishes when there was a knock on the door.

“Come in!”

Evie wondered if George or Ginny had come to see if she was all right. But the figure in the doorway was a beloved familiar one.


“Oh, Evie!” Grace rushed towards her, enveloping her in a hug. “Francesca’s here, too. She’s just paying the cab we got for the last leg of the journey.”

Evie had known they were coming to the funeral, but had not expected them until tomorrow. She felt Grace’s arms around her, then Francesca closed the door and the three women clung to one another, just as they had the day they’d parted beneath Two Shires Oak.

Through swollen eyes she suddenly noticed the little girl standing by the door and then the baby seated on the floor. She recognised them at once – Suzanne with Grace’s chestnut hair and Marianne with Francesca’s fragile blonde beauty. Except Fran didn’t seem so fragile now . . .

“Oliver and Phil are coming for the service,” Francesca said as they all sat down, “but we wanted to see you beforehand. We arranged to meet at Nottingham station, but my train was late.”

By now Julia was awake, but it didn’t matter for once. As the three children played together, their mothers talked the night away. At first Evie didn’t want to talk about Alan, so the women mentioned trivial things to occupy her mind.

“I can’t believe he’s not coming back,” she said suddenly.

Francesca and Grace looked at each other.

“I wish we could make it all better, Evie,” Grace told her.

Evie went to find the nursing textbook, in which she’d preserved her three leaves from the oak tree, and brought them through to the kitchen.

“Remember I wanted to be a nurse? If I had, maybe I could have saved Alan.”

“Evie, don’t torment yourself,” Francesca said gently. “You did everything you could by getting him to hospital right away.”

“If you had gone off to be a nurse you never would have met him,” Grace said. “Think of all the happy times you shared. He loved you.”

Evie knew that was true. She had never doubted his love, not even for a second. How would she carry on without it?

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”.