LOCAL AUTHOR Patsy Collins has a new book out. Beyond The Garden Wall contains 24 plant, garden and flower-themed short stories. The following ‘free taste’ for Globe readers is one of the shorter examples…
THE TREE WITHIN…By Patsy Collins
“Are you sure there’s not a tree growing in there?” Joshua placed his hand on Kate’s bump as she crunched through an apple. She just grinned at her husband and finished the sweet, juicy piece of fruit, core and all. She’d always eaten them that way, though usually only when alone.
Years ago, fellow schoolchildren had teased that the pips would grow inside her. Granddad used to give her home-grown apples; he’d stored them carefully so they lasted right through to spring and every bite of every one was precious. It seemed wasteful not to eat the core when it tasted just as good as the rest.
Besides it couldn’t be right about the pips. No one worried about seeds in the granary bread their sandwiches were made of, or nuts in chocolate bars. Even so, Kate had either eaten her apples away from everyone else or, when that wasn’t possible, had regretfully discarded the core. Wanting to please others, Kate tried to behave as people expected. She’d hidden more than her habit of eating apple cores.
In drama class, the children were told to act like trees. Kate stood completely still and imagined how it would feel to have sap rising, birds nesting, fruit swelling. It would be wonderful.
Trees were lovely. She’d like to be one. She’d planted her feet solidly on the ground and stretched her limbs up, up, up towards where she imagined the sun to be, wishing she could feel its early spring warmth and the breath of the wind on her skin.
“Come on girl, don’t just stand there,” the teacher said. Kate had opened her eyes and seen the other children thrashing about. They looked nothing like trees, but apparently that was what the teacher wanted so Kate ran haphazardly, leaping and twisting. “Much better,” the teacher said.
“Perhaps she thought I looked like driftwood caught in a torrent?” she asked Granddad later. He got her to demonstrate both versions and confirmed her opinion that the first was far more realistic. “Too wooden for your teacher, I expect,” he chuckled. “Is that bad?” “Nothing about my little sapling is bad,” he’d told her, ruffling her hair.
He thought of her as a tree! Nothing could have pleased her more. He was definitely a tree to her. A magnificent oak perhaps, or gnarled and character filled beech. Something solid, reliable, sheltering and wonderful. All her life she’d tried to follow his example.
Recently Kate had gone public with her apple core crunching. Pregnant women were expected to eat unusual things and though some made the same silly joke about the pips her husband had, they did so kindly.
“You’ll be wanting to call her Willow or Hazel, I suppose,” Joshua said.
“I thought Rowan. That’s appropriate for another branch on our family tree.”
Joshua smiled. “Any child of yours will be a whole tree, just like her mother.”
“You think of me as a tree?”
“In a good way, I promise.”
“There is no other.”
She’d done her best, always. After losing Granddad, she’d felt like that piece of driftwood she’d enacted at school. Then she’d met Joshua and put down roots. Now she was nurturing a new life. She’d be there for as long as she was able, to shelter and protect their daughter. Like Grandad had done for her. Like a tree.
Beyond The Garden Wall will usually retail at £1.99 for the ebook and £6.99 for the paperback, but from October 16 to October 22 they can be purchased from Amazon for 99p or £5.99.
Also, a mini collection of seven short stories by Patsy Collins is currently available to download for free.
NOT A DROP TO DRINK
‘They’ say the human body is around 70% water. It’s not true.
We could drink straight H20 of course. Usually we don’t. More likely it’s vitamin rich juice or teeth rotting cola.
We like a nice cup of tea to calm us down or cheer us up. Perhaps a nice glass of wine to celebrate or drown our sorrows. Two glasses. Too many glasses.
Our bodies do contain liquid of course. Never just water though. What’s in yours; acid and bile or the milk of human kindness? Blood, sweat and tears of joy or sorrow?
It’s these waters I hope you’ll find running through my stories. Cheers!
Download Not A Drop To Drink for free from Amazon or Apple, or other ebook retailers and see if you recognise any of the locations Patsy had in mind when writing these stories!