Under Two Shires Oak – Episode 52

IT was unbelievable. Tom, Holly’s dear father, had gone missing along with another aid worker, somewhere out in Africa. They had left the camp a couple of days earlier, just on some routine matter, expecting to be only a few hours, but they hadn’t returned. A search had so far been unsuccessful. The growing fear was that they had been kidnapped. There had been an incident of that sort in a neighbouring region.

The family was all in pieces. Holly had heard the expression often – “Oh, so-and-so’s in pieces.” She had always thought it a strange thing to say. But it was how she felt, and her mum and grandparents, too, she was sure.

“He has the leaves,” her mum said a couple of days later, when there was still no news. She turned to her own mother, Grace. “You know, the three leaves from Two Shires Oak that you gave to me in a little silver frame. They were to keep me safe, you said. Let’s hope, let’s just hope.”

“Let’s go to Two Shires!” Holly interrupted. “It’ll do us good to get out. Besides, they’ve got my mobile number, and yours, too, Mum.”

So off they all went in her little car to the tree. And it was there, beneath the embrace of its branches, they received the news. Tom and his colleague had been found! Both safe and well enough, though tired and dehydrated. There had been no kidnap attempt or anything like that, so the family learned from the person from the organisation’s UK office who had phoned with the message. The men had simply been involved in an accident. But none of the family was terribly interested in the details, not right now.

All they cared about was that Tom was safe!

Along with her own tears Holly thought she felt something else splash on her face. A light rain was falling, she noticed for the first time. So no doubt it was simply a raindrop falling down from the tree. Or was Two Shires Oak crying with joy along with them? Holly gave its stout trunk a partial hug as there was no way she could reach right round it.

Back home, they had a special meal to celebrate plus a bottle of wine from her grandad’s collection, and then all went to bed even before it was dark, as no-one had slept a wink the previous night.

But Holly didn’t drop off immediately. Her thoughts returned to Glyn and the insight she had had at the folk night. All her worries about their future, if they had one, had been put on hold with all the drama about her dad. And now she realised that, as often happens, during that time when she hadn’t given it any thought whatsoever, the problem had sorted itself out.

She had asked the question, was she like her mum? Now she knew the answer. Yes, she took after her mum all right. Or rather, the way her mum had become, since it was true her mother had briefly worked for the overseas aid agency herself. But in the end, family had taken precedence for her mum. And that was what Holly wanted, too. A normal, quiet, domestic life, with no shocks like the one she had just had.

And she didn’t believe she would have that with someone like Glyn.

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”.