They’re coming … – A WWBH post

Everything has been a massive rush this week, and I nearly didn’t get around to posting this. The story was niggling in my mind though and I had to get it out. It’s a bit last minute, so please forgive the roughness around its edges. I hope you enjoy where I went with this one.

This week for the WWBH blog hop we’re using one picture and five words:

novel, socks, morals, spar, stool

They’re coming …

        ‘I dare you, go on.’
        ‘No way, you do it if you’re so interested.’
        ‘Nah, I’m too scared,’ declared Ryan, ‘you’re much braver than me, so it has to be you.’
        ‘Hasn’t the novelty worn off yet?’ I asked as my shoulders slumped.
        ‘It’s alright for you, coming from the city,’ Ryan replied, ‘but tramps in the village is totally new for the rest of us.’
        ‘He’s been there for three weeks. If he was going to do anything interesting, he’d have done it by now.’
        ‘Yes, but we only see him on the way to and from the bus stop, don’t we? Who knows what he’s up to during the day when we’re not here to keep an eye on him.’
        ‘Well, there’s so much choice, I’m sure he doesn’t know where to break into first.’
        ‘Don’t try and be funny, Will,’ said Ryan, giving me a shove, ‘doesn’t suit you. Just go and have a look in his bunker, that’s all I’m asking.’
        ‘You really have no morals at all do you? You want me to risk upsetting someone just so you can get a glimpse of his smelly socks?’
        ‘No,’ smirked Ryan, ‘I want you to glimpse his smelly socks.’
        ‘Fine.’ I left him and the rest of them on the pavement as I crossed the road and headed down the dirt track. I wasn’t worried, but my palms went sweaty nonetheless. I brushed them on my school trousers as I avoided the toadstools sprouting up through the mud, the bunker suddenly looming large in front of me.
        I didn’t even know what I was doing this for. To show Ryan I wasn’t as scared as him? To prove to myself there was nothing to be worried about? A shuffling from inside the bunker made me stop in my tracks, and the ground in front of me began to blur a little. A sign resting up against the bunker read ‘THEY’RE COMING! BE READY!’ At the sight of it my whole body released the tension it had been holding inside. Whoever it was in there, they weren’t a threat to me.
        I rounded the corner and got a glimpse inside, and found myself surprised at how spartan it was. I’d expected old bins full of junk, or maybe some kind of camp setup or something. It was empty apart from a single figure lying in the corner, and as I approached I could hardly believe what my eyes were telling me. The figure, whatever it was, certainly didn’t come from around here, that much I was certain of. I was so engrossed in examining it, I didn’t hear the shuffling coming back and stopping behind me, and then a voice whispered right into my ear.
        ‘They’re coming, are you ready?’
Word count: 463

Unwelcome Guest – A WWBH post

This post is part of the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop, a weekly meme designed to inspire creativity and encourage sharing of stories.

The hop is co-hosted by Leanne Sype at Writings and Ruminations, Tena Carr at Taini’s Writings and myself over at Reading, Writing and Everything in Between.

Here we are again for another installment of the WWBH. No, your eyes are not deceiving you, this is my second story in two weeks. Get me, eh?

This week we have two pictures to inspire us, courtesy of the lovely Tena Carr, so I hope you enjoy what I’ve come up with.

Unwelcome Guest

  2015/01/img_3902.jpg      ‘How much further do we have to go?’
        ‘Just over that rise there, and then it’s all downhill.’
        ‘It feels like we’ve been walking all day.’
        ‘We have been walking all day.’ Joey’s whining was long past the point of getting tiresome, and Rob’s patience only lasted so long.
        ‘I don’t see why we have to make this trip every week, Sabrina is perfectly capable of putting one foot in front of the other.’
        ‘You expect her to walk half a day to market, jostle about with everybody else, then walk half a day back? She’s six months pregnant, Joey. Don’t you think that’s a tad unfair?’
        ‘Well, she should have thought of that, shouldn’t she?’
        Rob rolled his eyes, looking upwards at his cousin. ‘Yeah, she really should’ve thought about the possibility of the world nearly ending before planning on starting a family.’
        ‘Right. I suppose we’ll have to help look after the nipper as well when it finally gets here.’
        I wonder if anyone would even notice if I just left you out here, Rob thought. He knew he probably wouldn’t. He’d been nothing but trouble since finding his way out of the desolation, but then his mother always said cockroaches have a way of surviving before squirming out of the woodwork. It was just a shame he’d squirmed up and found them.
        ‘So, Joey,’ Rob said, ‘how’ve you been getting on looking for your brothers? Any luck?’
        ‘Nah,’ he replied, ‘I think they ran in the other direction. Don’t think I’ll be seeing them again.’
        ‘Well, don’t you want to even try? They’re your brothers.’
        ‘If they’re stupid enough to run away from everyone else, they aren’t any brothers of mine.’
        ‘Well, how are they gonna survive out there, on there own?’
        ‘It can be done, you know. We’re doing it.’
        ‘Exactly, which is why I was clever to find you guys.’
  2015/01/img_3425.jpg      Lucky us.
        Finally, the track leveled out and they could see the shelter they’d built against the caves. Rob started sorting out his bag, ready to dish out the provisions.
        ‘I hope you got everything on the list, Joey. Mother’s very particular about being without anything.’
        ‘Of course, I got everything,’ he said, checking through his list. ‘She’ll be … ‘
        ‘What?’ asked Rob, his heart sinking, ‘what is it?’
        ‘I forgot the salt. Does she really need salt?’
        Rob couldn’t hide his grin, although he kept the satisfaction out of his voice. ‘You’d better get up early in the morning, Joey. It’s a long way back to market.’
                                                                                                                                                  Word count: 440

Find a penny, pick me up – A WWBH post

This post is part of the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop, a weekly meme designed to inspire creativity and encourage sharing of stories.

The hop is co-hosted by Leanne Sype at Writings and Ruminations, Tena Carr at Taini’s Writings and myself over at Reading, Writing and Everything in Between,

Welcome to the first prompt for 2015! I trust you had a good Christmas and New Year? Great!

My participation in this little hop dwindled somewhat in the last few months of 2014, so I have it on my New Year goal list to do better and submit more often. Fingers crossed I can keep it up

The challenge this week is to write a piece in up to 500 words using one picture and five random words:


Bottle, ostrich, schedule, binder, spoon

My story:

Find a penny, pick me up

So, here I am again, just sitting on the floor, waiting for someone to notice me and pick me up. Why does this always have to happen to me? You don’t see any other coins lingering on the ground for so long, do you? But I’m not worth very much really, not compared to the big guys.

Of course, if you put me together with enough of my fellows we all add up to the same as those guys. We’re usually the kind to spend the majority of our lives shut up in random money boxes, pots or bottles though. We don’t get to see much daylight.

I once knew another penny, he’d been stuck in a shoe box with me a long while until the big man took him away again. I thought he was a regular penny, like me, but it turns out he was kind of special, limited edition or something, and now he lives in some kind of binder with other rare coins. Fancy that, eh? Still, I don’t see how living wrapped away like that is any better than being in the shoe box. And I can’t see how a penny can ever be worth more then a penny, but there you go. These big people are quite strange.

I spent a few months rattling around in one of their tractors once. He wasn’t a regular farmer either, he had ostriches. Can you believe that? How much stranger can you get than farming ostriches?

I’m just biding my time here, enduring the wind and the rain, the footsteps and the pram wheels. It’s a good job I don’t have a schedule to keep like all these folks, I’d never get anything done! Now and then I get a tickle of interest, a child will spot me, but mum is usually dragging them along before they have a chance to reach me. Children are always the best ones to be found by, they think they’ve won the lottery whenever they find any money. They’re always getting you out to have a look at you, cleaning you up and putting you on display. They’re quite clumsy though, children, and will soon drop you as they’re rushing around.

There are some big ones that have ruined it for the majority of us, of course. I’ve had a few friends that have been glued to the pavement or driveway, tempting people to look a fool. Thanks to them we hardly get a chance now.

Still, I should be glad for what I am. If I were any other item, being lost or thrown away so often, I’d probably get melted down and turned into spoons or something. Now, what kind of life can that be, in and out of mouths all day. No thank you! I’d rather sit here on the pavement if it’s all the same to you.

Word count: 480

The cold outside – A WWBH post

This post is part of the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop, a weekly meme designed to inspire creativity and encourage sharing of stories.

The hop is co-hosted by myself over at Reading, Writing and Everything in Between, Leanne Sype at Writings and Ruminations, Tena Carr at Taini’s Writings and Debb Stanton at Stanton Sunshine.


I realise that it’s been more than a little while since I’ve done this little writers hop. It doesn’t take long to get back into the swing of it, though, and I (almost) feel like I’ve never been away.

This week we have been working with two pictures as inspiration, and given the change in the weather over the past few days this seemed rather appropriate. I hope you enjoy …

The cold outside

Sitting around the table together, I felt the warmth of my fathers hand in my right and my daughters hand in my left. The food that lay before us steamed, covering the table, and the smells made more than just my tummy rumble in anticipation of our final meal together.

grace-family I glanced up at the others as we sat silently with our own prayers, our own thoughts and worries about what was going to happen. Looking from one face to the next, I wondered what was going through their minds. The children looked scared, little Evie’s hand gripping onto mine so tightly. Sitting across from me Nathan met my gaze, his mouth curling in that half smile I always found so adorable. My parents were the only ones who were managing to carry on as normal. They looked so peaceful as they sat together, watching over the rest of us and keeping the family together in these final hours.

The fire roared in the hearth behind us, determined to provide us with heat while it still could. It spluttered against the wind threatening down the chimney, but stood its ground for now.

It had been at least a week since I’d last felt properly warm. The suns power had diminished quicker than anybody thought it could, and the effects were felt soon after. The cars had seized up after only two days, leaving us stranded here, house bound. We were together at least, though, so we had to be grateful for small mercies.

IMG_12586d        The lakes had frozen over, which was expected and not at all an unusual sight, but everyone had been shocked to see the oceans themselves giving in to the freezing temperatures. The entire planet had been turned upside down, and nothing could prepare us for the devastation that was inevitable.

What had begun as the usual, seasonal turn in the weather, had turned into a nightmare than none of us could wake from. This meal would be our last, not just as a family, but forever. The lights flickered as the power finally gave up, the backup generator doing its best to cope. We knew we wouldn’t have long.

We began to eat, everyone still in silence, and I enjoyed the food as it warmed through me. Savouring the sensation, I closed my eyes again and remembered being gathered like this but in happier, sweeter times. As I finished my plate, the last of the electricity finally failed and we looked at each other in the fading light. Evie crawled up into my lap and I held her close, feeling her tremble as the outside walls began to freeze. I closed my eyes and breathed in the scent of her hair. Happy memories flooded my mind as we waited for the end to freeze us in this moment.

Word count: 471

Will you … – A WWBH post

This week we have been offered two pictures as inspiration for our flash fiction pieces, and they are certainly suggestive of a food and drink theme. I’ve been told that my stories are often of the dark and sinister kind, so this week I’ve gone for something a little more romantic and light-hearted. Let me know what you think …

Will you …

        ‘I suppose bringing me a cupcake will make everything alright, does it?’

        ‘No,’ replied Dan, ‘but I’m hoping a whole batch of cupcakes might.’

        She looked at him, trying to maintain her stern face as he grinned at her. She turned to the window before he saw her soften. He wasn’t getting away with it that easily. It had been a hard few months, and her birthday had kept her going through everything. ‘How could you forget?’ she asked, ‘I wrote it on every calendar you own.’

        ‘I know, sweets,’ he said, lowering his head, preparing himself. He knew this was coming, and he probably deserved it.

        ‘I just don’t know what goes through your mind sometimes,’ she said, standing to pace the room. ‘Do you even think about anybody else?’

        ‘Well, of course … ‘

        ‘I know, I know,’ she interrupted, ‘you think about Steve, how could you ever leave him out of anything.’

        Dan tried to ignore the tone of her voice as she said Steve’s name. ‘It’s not like that, you know.’

        ‘Yes, it is,’ she said. She felt the rage boiling within her now, ready to let out all the tension. ‘Whenever I want to plan anything, you have to run off to Steve to see if you’re free to do it. Don’t you see it should be the other way around!’

        ‘That’s not how it is,’ he replied, ‘I’m just being a good mate. He’s been pretty lonely since Jess left him, you know. I’m just trying to look after him.’

        ‘But what about me?’ she turned to face him now. ‘You need to look after me too. I know he’s your friend, but surely I’m more to you than that.’ She could feel the tension in the room, and knew it was her doing. She didn’t enjoy being unreasonable, but she needed to tell him this. She didn’t want to go the way his friends had.

        He came over to her then, put his arms around her. She let him hold her, closing her eyes and enjoying his warmth.

        ‘I’m sorry,’ he said softly, ‘it wasn’t supposed to work out this way.’

        ‘Work out?’ she said, suddenly starting to panic.

        He left her a moment while he went into the other room, and came back with his hands behind him. ‘I didn’t mean to miss your birthday, in fact I had something very special planned. Steve really did need me though, he’s been really bad since Jess left him.’

        She didn’t know what to say in return, the guilt began to consume her.

        ‘I hope this will make amends though.’

        He held out a bottle of drink for her, her name on the label. She took it from him and turned it over in her hands, puzzled at the gesture.

        On the other side he’d stuck his own label, with four very special words. She couldn’t stop her face from reacting, and the smile told Dan all he needed to know.

Word count: 495


This post is part of the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop, a weekly meme designed to inspire creativity and encourage sharing of stories.   The hop is co-hosted by  Leanne Sype at Writings and Ruminations, Tena Carr at Taini’s Writings, Debb Stanton at Stanton Sunshine and myself over at Reading, Writing and Everything in Between,


Help me … – A WWBH post

This post is part of the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop, a weekly meme designed to inspire creativity and encourage sharing of stories.

The hop is co-hosted by myself over at Reading, Writing and Everything in Between, Leanne Sype at Writings and Ruminations, Tena Carr at Jottings and Writings and Debb Stanton at Stanton Sunshine.


It seems an absolute age since I last posted anything for this hop, pretty poor really considering I’m a co-host!

Oh well, I’m here again now, and I hope you enjoy what I’ve managed to come up with. I have to apologise for the super-rough state it’s in, but I really wanted to share it with you before the deadline passed.

The challenge this week is to write a piece in up to 500 words using one picture and five random words:


Gunnysack, pathology, croquet, elate, human

My story:

Help me …

Please don’t go, please don’t go! I didn’t have the energy left to shout anymore. If they didn’t hear me when I was at my loudest, there wasn’t much hope that they’d hear me now. I’d dragged my broken body as far as I could, with more strength and determination than I’d thought was humanly possible. But now that strength was beginning to wane.

Trying to get myself to civilisation had been the only option for survival. Out here the phone signal was laughable, and that was if mine had even survived the night. It was probably in more pieces than I was. Dane had seen to that when he threw my gunnysack from the car on the way down here. At the time it’d been an annoying prank, but now I see it was all a part of his plan. How long he’d been plotting the whole thing though, I could only wonder. He’d seemed like such a nice guy as well; thoughtful, attentive. I guess you never can really know.

When the sirens rang out and the blue flashing lights came hurtling down the highway my heart felt almost elated, brimming with hope that I might make it out of here as more than just another body on a pathology slab.

They weren’t here for me I knew. I’d heard the crash of Dane’s car not long after he’d abandoned me, and saw the flames. A tiny piece of me was glad, of course, but it still didn’t help me much, not where he’d left me. The blue lights had flashed all through the night, growing brighter with every metre I pulled myself along. But they wouldn’t stay forever, and I was still too far into the trees to be seen from the road.

Shuffling on my elbows, my legs now numb, I gritted my teeth and willed myself to keep going. Glancing up, I caught sight of a paramedic hovering on the edge of the woods. My heart thudded in my chest as I realised this could be my only chance to be seen out here. Frantically, I looked around in the dawn light, searching for something to get his attention.


        Ryan glanced around, checking he was far enough away from the crew before relieving himself. He knew he shouldn’t have crammed that last can of drink into him, but he hated waste. If he was honest with himself though, he needed to get away from the crash site this time. Twenty years in the business, and it still turned his stomach to see what some people did to themselves when they think they’re invincible.

        Making sure he was all zipped up, he was about to turn back when his foor knocked against something; or rather something knocked against his foot. Bending down, a croquet ball came to rest against his boot. Picking it up, he scanned the trees in front of him. Was that movement he just saw there? Just maybe …

Word count: 497

Undercover – A WWBH post

This post is part of the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop, a weekly meme designed to inspire creativity and encourage sharing of stories.

The hop is co-hosted by myself over at Reading, Writing and Everything in Between, Leanne Sype at Writings and Ruminations, Tena Carr at Jottings and Writings and Debb Stanton at Stanton Sunshine.

This week the challenge is to write a flash fiction piece in up to 500 words using two pictures, incorporating them somewhere in the story. One thing I love about this blog hop is the variety of stories that come out of the exact same prompts. Creativity truly is unique.

My story this week:


‘We need to get that painting back,’ said Steph, pacing up and down. It only took a few strides to get from one side of the office to the other, but she still felt the need to cover every inch.


        ‘We will,’ said Marina, ‘we will. We just need to stay calm and follow up with the plan.’

        ‘I knew getting that Justin on board was a mistake, I should have followed my instincts.’ She paused long enough to give the bin a swift kick, and then went back to her pacing.

        ‘Relax, he doesn’t know what he’s got does he? He wouldn’t know what to do with it even if he did.’

        ‘Yes, but what if he figures out how to read it? What if … ‘

        ‘How is he going to do that, Steph? He has know idea who we are, where we’re from.’ Marina leaned back in her chair, absent-mindedly picking at the scales underneath her sleeve.

        ‘All it takes is for the wrong person to recognise it,’ said Steph, leaning against the window frame now, taking a break from all of her pacing. ‘Look at them down there, they have no idea what’s going on in their own cities, in their own back gardens.’

        ‘You cannot reveal yourself, Steph,’ Marina rose to her feet, ‘they must not know that we are here.’

        Steph sighed heavily. ‘I know that,’ she said quietly, ‘but still .. ‘

        ‘No!’ Marina was beside her then, intense eyes burning into her. ‘Promise me you can stay strong on this, we can’t afford any more slip-ups.’

        Steph held her gaze for as long as she could. ‘OK,’ she said, finally, ‘I’ll be OK.’

        ‘You better,’ said Marina, and she turned and went back to her seat. She didn’t like disciplining her team but if she had to, then she would. She wasn’t going to let the whole operation become compromised because of one individuals crisis of conscience.

        ‘How is your body holding up?’ asked Steph, her back to the window now.


        ‘It itches,’ said Marina, her fingers dancing over her scales again. ‘These organisms are not entirely suited to our needs, but they’ll have to do.’

Steph knew exactly what she meant, longing to revert back to her own natural form so she could properly relax. She did not enjoy having to masquerade in something that felt like it was three sizes too small for her.

She glanced again over at their intended disguises for the next part of the operation. She had no idea just how she was going to hide her impressive tail under such a small looking dress …

Word count: 438




Mistaken identity? – A WWBH post

This post is part of the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop, a weekly meme designed to inspire creativity and encourage sharing of stories.

The hop is co-hosted by myself over at Reading, Writing and Everything in Between, Leanne Sype at Writings and Ruminations, Tena Carr at Jottings and Writings and Debb Stanton at Stanton Sunshine.

The challenge this week is to write a piece of flash fiction in up to 500 words, using one picture and five random words as inspiration. All of these elements need to be incorporated into your story somewhere.

Unintentionally, this story seems to be influenced somewhat by a book I’ve read recently, Before I Go to Sleep by S J Watson. An excellent read which I would definitely recommend.

This weeks picture:

MANDATORY WORDS:  murky, triumphant, hasenpfeffer, territory, lingual


This weeks words:                            Murky, triumphant, hasenpfeffer, territory, lingual


This weeks story:

Mistaken identity?

Derek awoke with both joy and sadness in his heart. It was his 40th wedding anniversary and he’d planned to celebrate in style. He always knew if he and Sheryl reached this milestone, he’d plan something even more memorable than their wedding had been.

        It had been one of the proudest days of his life, standing at the altar with the woman of his dreams, everyone else melting away to leave the two of them standing in the moment. The love he’d felt for her then went beyond the limitations of any lingual interpretation, and it hadn’t wavered in all the years they’d spent together.

        Descending the stairs to prepare breakfast, he paused at the bottom to take in their wedding photo’s. Side by side, one was from the big day itself, and next to that a similar picture of them both in their wedding finery, but with them aged by thirty years. Sheryl had wanted to match as closely as possible the two photos, a before and after with the renewal of their vows. In the second photo they both beamed triumphantly, celebrating three decades and still with the same love and respect for each other.

        He’d sent this picture to the newspaper, to celebrate their anniversary with the world. Now that she’d gone it was the only part of his big plans that he felt he could do without feeling his heart breaking completely. Losing her had been a devastation he’d hoped would have happened much later in their lives. It was new territory having to step out without her, to continue on with his usual everyday routines. It had been a tough road to walk by himself, but somehow he found the strength.

        Unable to enjoy the plans he’d intended for this day, he contented himself with sitting in the sunshine with their photo albums and his memories.


Helen paused over her hasenpfeffer as she skimmed through the newspaper. She almost missed the picture of the married couple celebrating their anniversary, their 40th apparently. As she looked closer at the picture and read through the article, her fork made a clang on the plate as her hand dropped. Grabbing the paper in both hands she scrutinized the photo as she headed for the hallway. Gazing in the mirror she looked from herself to the picture and back again.

        The same eyes stared back at her from the mirror and the paper, but how could that possibly be? Reading through again she confirmed his wife had died five years ago. Just around the time that she’d had her accident and Simon had brought her to live here. Everything before that was murky in her own mind, but he’d been filling in the gaps for her.

        Her spine tingled with the coincidence in the paper, and she quickly hid it away as she heard her husband coming in through the kitchen door. Suddenly, she felt so unsure of a lot of things …


Word count: 495

A difficult beginning – A WWBH post

This post is part of the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop, a weekly meme designed to inspire creativity and encourage the sharing of stories.

The hop is co-hosted by myself over at Reading, Writing and Everything in Between, Leanne Sype at Writings and Ruminations, Tena Carr at Jottings and Writings and Debb Stanton at Stanton Sunshine.

The challenge this week is to write a piece of flash fiction in up to 500 words, using two pictures as inspiration.

This weeks pictures:

2014-06-08 13.02.24 2014-06-19 18.23.46


This weeks story:

A difficult beginning

You look so tiny as you lie there, surrounded by so many tubes and wires. I’m afraid to put my hands on you in case I pull on something by mistake. You were this perfect little thing the day you arrived, and it breaks my heart that everything wasn’t quite right on the inside. The doctor says its no fault of ours, these things just happen sometimes, but still I feel like I’ve let you down already and you’re not even 48hrs old.

        I could sit here all day with you, watching you, hoping that being here will in some way help you get better. But I ache all over. I’ve still recovering too, my little one, from the efforts of bringing you into this world. We should both be at home right now, snuggled together and helping each other adjust and get strong again. But instead here we are, you in there and me as close as I can be. I know I need to be taking care of myself, to get some rest and recuperate, but that also means leaving you here by yourself.

        I know, of course, that you’re in the best place, getting the best care you can, but it’s not always the same as having the people who love you nearby.  And I have your sister to think of too. She needs me as much as you do, and I didn’t think I’d be splitting myself between the two of you so soon. You probably won’t remember any of this, or how much time I spent with you, but she will. She’ll notice if I’m here too much and if I’m not at home spending time with her too. I must get that right, I can’t have her being upset with either of us already. After all, this isn’t her fault. It isn’t anyone’s fault, it’s just something that happens, and this time it’s to us.

        We know you’re on the mend now, my little one, and big sister has been here and had her cuddles. She loves you more than you’ll ever know, and she’s been hurting as much as we have. She comes and holds your hand every day so you don’t forget her. The bunny in your cot was left for us yesterday, a parcel left on the doorstep, flowers too. Had things gone differently it would have been a harsh reminder of a tragedy impossible to bear, but instead now they are a symbol of hope that we’ll have you home soon.

Get well my little one, we have many adventures to all share together, today and forever xxx

Word count: 439

Fun With Freewriting – Week 21: A place for all


Fun with Freewriting time! I like the idea for this as one central place being used and respected by so many different groups.

Please leave a comment if you have the time, I enjoy and encourage feedback. To check out my previous ramblings click on the link or tab at the top of the page.


Standing alone in the middle of the field, the shade tree stretches its branches as far as it can. Each year its reach extends that little bit further, its foliage growing that little bit greener. With nothing to stand in its way, the branches have grown  out equally in all directions, leaving a near perfect circle of shade beneath. The field in which it stands is lush in green grass, never grazed or used for crops, instead the owner keeping the grass short anyway.

        A well worn path leads from the gateway directly to the foot of the tree, and the gate is never locked. Everyone understands the importance of this place, and so it remains free and open to all. Visitors are known to have traveled hundreds of miles to see it, to touch it, and both young and old alike are drawn to the place. Surprisingly, despite the large volume of visitors each month, there had never been a single act of vandalism against the place, no scrap of litter left behind, or any other sign that someone had spent their morning or afternoon there.

        Of course, there were theories abound about the draw of the place, from historical and biblical to supernatural and scientific. In the local towns and villages, debates had been known to last for days over its origins and its purpose, but once there, by the tree together, all the arguments seemed to drift away on the breeze. Whatever their beliefs, everyone would stand side by side, brought together in unity by its beauty and wonder.

        Nobody seemed to know exactly how old it was, despite plenty of digging into it. Its solitary nature made it difficult to determine from photographs, other than the method of the photography itself. Even the oldest available pictures showed it to be a good size, so how far back it became established was anyones guess.

        Over the generations, so many celebrations and festivals had been held in its honour it was equally difficult to keep track of them all. All manner of groups had paid their respects in their own ways, some loud and brash, others more quiet and subtle affairs, but each group had a great respect for the rest and would always leave it exactly as they’d found it, with never a sign that they’d even been there.

        Far away from any hustle and bustle, the shade tree and its surroundings offered a place of sanctuary and tranquility to all that may require it. A place surviving the test of time and bringing joy and hope to as many as it can.