Under Two Shires Oak – Episode 37

TOM was avoiding her. Suzanne understood. What he’d said was true. But they had to communicate to do their jobs. She was thinking about the problem as she worked with her little group a few days later.

Suddenly, there was a crash outside the tent, like something collapsing. The children jumped up, fear back in their young, yet so very old, eyes. She calmed them down and went to investigate. It was just demolition work on an unsafe building.

“No cause for alarm,” she said to herself, then regretted her confident assertion less than an hour later.

One of the children, a little girl called Nanya, was missing.

“I remember she looked terrified by the noise,” Suzanne explained to Tom, who now had no alternative but to consult with her.

“It probably reminded her of something that once happened,” Tom said, “and she’s run away.”

A little later, a thought occurred to Suzanne.

Which batch would they be in? She was alone in the tent, as Tom had gone off to organise a search.

“I never throw their pictures away,” she muttered. “Ah, here they are!”

She smoothed out the first drawings Nanya had done. The ones that, as Tom had said, told her story. Repeatedly, she had drawn a little figure – presumably herself – cowering in a hole. A hole!

“Stop!” Suzanne raced towards the deep crater scarring the earth round at the back of the tent. It had been fenced off, but today the barriers had been removed, in preparation for it being filled in.

And there, coming towards it, Ingrid again at the controls, was the earth-mover all set for the job, its huge scoop already filled with earth to pour into the hole.

“Stop!” Suzanne screamed again. But could Ingrid hear her with all the noise? Waving desperately, she ran in front of the vehicle.


Ingrid managed to stop the vehicle without hitting Suzanne, who had dived out of its way at the very last moment. But the look on the woman’s face told her how close it had been.

“Check . . . the hole . . . for Nanya!” Suzanne gasped as Ingrid, crouched beside her, helped her to sit up.

Ingrid went to look and another pair of arms took hold of Suzanne. It was Tom.

“Yes, she’s here!” Ingrid shouted. Then, “She looks fine!”

“Thank heavens,” Tom said, and tears of relief stood in his eyes.

That evening, when Suzanne was having a walk – or rather, a limp, after her fall – Tom followed her. In a way, she had expected it.

“Well, this has certainly convinced anyone who might have doubted the importance of your work here,” he said, smiling.

But then his face turned serious as he confessed the real reason for seeking her out.

“I was just . . . out of my mind with fear when I thought Ingrid was going to hit you! It made me realise something. I’ve tried to forget the other night, Suzanne, but I can’t. I love you!” These last words he said almost in a whisper.

“I feel the same,” Suzanne told him.

It was true. She had thought that, like all the team, she merely admired Tom. But when he had kissed her, she had known it was much more.

“But what you said is true,” she added, “this isn’t the place for a romance.”

“No, I won’t be able to take you out to restaurants or the cinema or . . . anywhere, really. It’ll be a funny old courtship. Maybe we should just skip all that and get married, then?”

Suzanne was so surprised she didn’t know what to say. But he was smiling again. Just joking? She didn’t have to reply anyway, because then he was kissing her again.

And this time, he didn’t try to blame it on the moon!

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”.