Under Two Shires Oak – Episode 54

“NO way will I let him cut down Two Shires Oak!” Holly’s eyes flashed and her voice and whole body shook with emotion as she spoke to her mum, Suzanne, and her grandparents in the kitchen of the house they shared. “That tree is special to a lot of people, and I’m going to get us all together to save it!”

Her family nodded their agreement, then Grace turned to Phil.

“Do any of your family still have influence in the area where the tree is?”

“No,” he said, “they’re all long gone.”

“Yes.” Grace sighed. “Everyone from then seems to be long gone.”

Holly knew from her gran’s wistful expression that she’d be thinking of her friends, Francesca and Evie. Grace had tried to trace them when she had returned to the UK from France, but without success.

“Not that we’d be asking favours from my stepfather,” her grandad added.

He was no doubt thinking of the bad way Lord Alderarche had treated Grace when she’d been a maid in Alderarche Hall. All that time ago – Holly couldn’t imagine people having maids!

“It’s OK,” she said, “I know someone who’ll be able to give us advice. I went out with him a few times. Glyn is into conservation and the environment. I’ll phone him now.”

Glyn answered her call immediately, and as they talked Holly was very aware of the irony of the situation. She had broken up with him because of his dedication to the various campaigns he seemed always to be fronting – yet now, here she was, launching one of her own!

But Glyn didn’t throw any of this back in her face. What a good man he was. Maybe she had made a mistake in finishing with him. She herself was going to be busy over the coming weeks, or even months. But perhaps, when this was all over, she could phone Glyn. For the moment, she was happy to have his advice. He gave her the names of people in the local media he’d found helpful.

“The main thing, Hol, is to fight from your heart. Tell it with passion! I’m sorry I can’t be more directly involved, but I’m up to here with various things.”

“Don’t worry,” Holly told him gratefully. “You’ve given me an idea, Glyn, thank you. Tell it with passion,” she repeated, now speaking really just to herself. “That’s what I’m going to do, and I know how to do it . . .”

* * * *

Ollie frowned as he followed Jessica along the quiet road near her family home in Derbyshire. What was wrong with her? Normally, she could talk the hind leg off a donkey, as the saying went, but this afternoon she was quiet. Sombre, even.

“I had never been to this part of the country,” he said, trying to open a conversation, “until I heard about the land for sale. But as soon as I saw it, I knew it was the perfect site for the housing I’ve got in mind! People will want to live here. It’s very beautiful.”

He looked at Jessica, who was also, to his mind, very beautiful, with her dark hair and eyes so different from his own light colouring.

“Yes, I love it, especially at this time of year,” she replied, looking round her. “The curry colours of autumn.”

“Curry colours?” He looked around at the new saffron and cinnamon of the landscape, afire in the late-season sun, and smiled.

“Yes, I see. Spices, you mean?”

He tried to keep her talking about food, but she had come to a stop under the big tree. An oak, he thought. He didn’t know much about trees, but he recognised this great thing as the one that might have to come down. He also suspected, from a change to Jessica’s expression, that she had brought him here on purpose.

His suspicions were confirmed when she finally turned to him.

“Is it true you’re thinking of cutting it down?” she demanded.

Alan Spink

I am a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. I enjoy working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, I also write fiction and enjoy watching football and movies in my spare time. My one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.