Tales from the Welsh Marches

This was a challenge to write a short story from a single perspective - not so difficult once I got started! It’s called The Tree.

I’d like to sit up in that tree. From there I could see the house and the barn and even the horses in the field behind if I climbed high enough.

If I sat quietly, no one would know I was there – it would be my secret place. I could hide there forever. There is a big branch - just there. I can see it but it’s just too high to reach. Even if I jump, I can’t quite reach it. I need something to stand on. The milk pail - by the back door - that will do it.

I‘ve got the branch now and by swinging on it, I put my feet on the trunk and push – and push. There, now I’ve got my leg over the branch, and … and … there! Oh dear, I’ve got some green stuff on my pinafore.  Grandma will … maybe I can brush it off later.

It’s nice to sit up here. I can see the house. There’s a lot of moss on the roof tiles, and, look, there’s a bird’s nest in the guttering, just over the living room window. I can tell because the mother and father are flying in and out bringing wiggly things to the babies.

I can see the barn. The farrier is putting new shoes on Pat. Pat looks so little from here. He’s really so big I can almost walk underneath him, but the men won’t let me. I don’t know why; Pat won’t hurt me. I can see the smoke from the shoe as it goes on his hoof. I asked if it hurt and the farrier said no, that it was a bit like cutting your fingernails, but I don’t burn off my fingernails. Grandma cuts them with tiny little scissors.

The other big horses are out in the field. I can’t see it from here. I’ll climb up a little higher… if I stand up carefully on the big branch. The bark on the trunk is rough and the cracks in it are deep enough for me to get my fingers in. I can reach another branch from here and if I pull myself up a little bit more … there. I can get my knee on the next branch. Oh dear, I’ve caught my stocking. There, I’ve unhooked it. I don’t think there is a hole. My other knee now. Reach for another branch and stand up. I hold onto the trunk and get my balance.

Oh look! I can see Leasow Meadow. The men are cutting the corn and there’s King and Dapper. They look so tiny pulling the binder and they hardly seem to be moving. There are two men collecting the sheaves that fall off the side and putting them into stooks. The two men doing the stooking are Peter and John, and Will is driving the binder. The stooks are dotted all over the field. It looks hot down there, but it’s cool up here in the shade. The leaves are almost still – just a little twitter now and then. There is a large branch on the other side. It is big enough to sit on. I wiggle around the trunk and swing my foot to the branch. Ouch! My plait is caught on something. Ouch! I pull on it – hard. There is a little crack as a twig breaks. I can feel it against my back; it must be still caught in my hair. I push with my foot and pull with my arms against the bark and I’m up! Up higher than ever on the big branch.  I grip the trunk bark hard and then … clutching a broken stub to steady myself I lower my bottom to the branch I'm standing on. I wobble and almost scream that I am falling. But the broken stub is strong but I'm safe on the branch. The bark on the branch is rough too. I can feel it on the back of my legs, poking and scratching. But I can see everything now.

There is smoke coming out of our chimney. Grandma is making a pie for our dinner when I went out to play. She scrubbed fresh carrots from the garden this morning and new potatoes. With our early apples, she made a pudding for the oven too.

The men have disappeared from the field, but I see Peter bring King and Dapper to the water trough and give them oats to eat. Their harness trails behind them and when the horses and the men have had their dinner, the horses will be hooked up to the binder again.

Then I see the three men and the farrier go into the back porch. The farrier has left his big leather apron somewhere and the others take off their caps as they go in. There are basins in the porch and they will wash there before they go into the big kitchen.

Grandma will have set the old table for them and they will be sitting on benches as Grandma cuts the big pie. She will pass the big white plates down to the man at the end of the table and then to the next and the next. The men pass the big brown bowls of vegetables from one to the other and pour dark brown gravy over it all. There will be piles of warm brown bread. The bread is my favourite – I love the way the butter slides over it and soaks in. It tastes so good … so ….

I am so hungry … and I am so far from the ground!  I feel my stomach growl with hunger and with fear and I know …. I just know. I can’t get down!

Tales from the Notebooks

Writing groups and classes are a wonderful place to learn to write and I would encourage anyone, beginner or experienced to join one. Having been to several and challenged to write in different ways by experienced tutors and generous colleagues,  I have accumulated a large number of short stories, poems and assorted bits and pieces. And along the way I have received wonderful critiques and generous advice. Priceless.

Over the past year or so I’ve been uploading some of these to my Facebook page (Wilma Hayes - Author) but now will put some here, changing them frequently for you to enjoy. Just for fun.

Use them as a challenge to write something new yourself if you like! And let me know how you get on! See Contact page for how to reach me.

Wilma Hayes