Creative Writing, Venue

Our Tree

Content Warning- very mild gore, mentions of terminal illness

FADE IN:

EXT. SOUP TREE HILL – EARLY EVENING 

Millie and Adam stand at the top of a long, rolling hill with a lone tree in the middle, which has grown into two large trunks and an excess of bulging roots. The middle of the two trunks is home to a natural well. The grass is slightly damp, and the early autumn sun is beginning to set, casting a warm orange glow onto the pristine scene. A gate at the top of the hill separates an old country lane from the field. Two figures stand at the top of the hill; Millie looks fondly onto the field whilst Adam wears a disgruntled frown. They stand out from the scene due to their clean cut “city” clothes, starkly contrasting their wellies which are old and worn. 

They start walking down the hill.

MILLIE

God it’s been a while 

ADAM

It’s weird coming up the lane from somewhere that’s not your grandparents’

Millie silently agrees with him 

        MILLIE

We used to do this all the time when we were younger- remember sneaking out for walks down the lane, having our first kiss under the tree?  

She kisses him.

ADAM

I guess we’ve got your nana to thank- we would never have met unless she lived in the village. 

  MILLIE 

I used to love visiting her as a kid. Hours and hours out walking in the fields, down the lane… 

        ADAM

Mmmm- when we didn’t have jobs… and we couldn’t smell! 

        MILLIE 

Smell?

        ADAM

… the air, Millie! 

Adam jokingly gently [hb1] pushes Millie towards a cow pat on the grass.

Millie

My lungs are already thanking me for leaving the city 

She twirls him around, laughing. They arrive at the tree in the middle of the field

        ADAM

Shit, it really is still here

They each lay a palm onto the trunks[hb2] 

        ADAM

Hey look-

He prods at a stick that is poking out of the well, half covered in mud, grass, lichen and all sorts of other natural bits. It looks like the well is being used to make mud pies/potions.

        MILLIE 

It really hasn’t changed, has it?

        ADAM

You haven’t either you know 

Millie raises an eyebrow

        ADAM

You were so excited climbing over that bloody stile into the field 

        MILLIE 

  It’s a lovely stile

        ADAM

  It’s a muddy stile! 

It starts raining – big, aggressive droplets

        MILLIE

  Fuck, is that rain?

        ADAM

  Oh BRILLIANT. What did I say when we left the b’n’b?

        MILLIE 

  I didn’t think we’d need waterproofs AND wellies! 

        ADAM 

  Let’s head back; it looks like it’s getting heavier 

        MILLIE 

  It’s just a bit of rain! 

The sky lights up as a bolt of lightning flashes nearby 

        MILLIE 

  One, two, thr-

She is cut off by a loud crash of thunder

        ADAM 

  Miles or kilometers?

        MILLIE

  What?

        ADAM

  The counting- is it measuring miles or kilometres?

        MILLIE

  Does it matter? It’s close; let’s go!

They start hurrying up the hill, coats over their heads. The weather worsens significantly; the sky becomes dark. They both start to become slightly irate at the weather getting in the way of their visit, and take it out on each other. 

        ADAM

  Did you bring a torch?

        MILLIE

  Do you own a torch??

Adam’s cold, wet fingers fumble around in his coat as he finds his phone and puts the torch on. Its effects are minimal.

        ADAM

  Fuck. How far is it to the b’n’b?  

        MILLIE

  Well it’s –

A bolt of lightning flashes ahead and the field is briefly filled with light and noise. They pause, scared and look behind them. The tree has been struck. Adam holds Millie- they are both sodden and clearly upset. 

        MILLIE

  Miles. 

The storm is loud, they are shouting to hear each other.

        ADAM 

  We need to go now, else we won’t get back!

        MILLIE 

  How did she know? When she told us to come.

        ADAM

  Your nana? Millie, we need to get out of this storm 

        MILLIE 

  The last time we ever saw her, and she told us to come here; take time out. And now it’s the last time we’ll ever see the tree.

        ADAM

  Millie, over the stile! 

Millie goes over the stile. Adam is clearly irritated and angry 

        ADAM 

  Ten more fucking minutes, all I needed was ten more- 

He goes over the stile and into the lane. They see headlights coming up the lane. Adam moves into the middle of the lane and waves his arms around. 

ADAM/MILLIE

STOP! STOP! / What do you mean? 

The car stops, unable to pass Adam. An older man sits in the front, wearing a Barbour hunting jacket, flat cap and wellies caked with dry mud. He doesn’t look particularly happy.

        ADAM 

  Hello! We’ve been caught in the storm and- 

He gets cut off by:

MAN 

Get in, then. You’ll catch a death[hb3]  out here

ADAM

Thank you so much. Come on Millie! 

Millie moves from the stile out to the car and gets in the back, while Adam moves round the car into the front. He gets a ring box out of his pocket to check that he didn’t lose it hurrying up the hill. He hides it from Millie.

MILLIE

Thank you so much, we had no idea that the storm- 

The man cuts him off again

MAN

No meteorology in the big city then? 

Adam laughs awkwardly

  ADAM

Bad preparation from us I guess. We’re not used to the country life anymore- 

        MAN 

  Clearly 

        ADAM

  We’re actually staying at a bnb just in the village- 

        MAN 

  (with) Weather like this, the road’ll be flooded by now. No chance going back there

        ADAM 

  Oh well, we don’t want to impose- 

        MAN

  Not much choice now, lad. 

        ADAM

  Thank you so much. I’m Adam; this is my partner, Millie.

The man looks unimpressed and grunts: 

        MAN 

  Partner 

Adam continues fumbling, clearly uncomfortable. 

MAN (cont.)

There’s a blanket back there, love. Usually for the dogs but you can use it to cover y’self up.

  MILLIE 

Thank you

She moves the scratchy, woven blanket from the seat next to her and uncovers a dead rabbit. She lets out an audible gasp. The man grunts in amusement. 

FADE OUT 

FADE IN: EXT. OUTSIDE THE COTTAGE – NIGHT.

The car parks up outside a cottage. Millie looks around- there is nothing but fields, mostly obscured by the darkness and storm. There are some faint signs of life coming from the cottage; light filtering through the net curtain and a plume of smoke from the chimney. The man stops the car abruptly and grunts, getting out and coming round the car to collect the dead rabbit. Adam and Millie share a glance. They get out of the car and follow the man to the front of the house. He opens the door again and grunts, indicating them to enter 

        MILLIE 

  Thank you so much for having us, we’ll be out of your way as soon as the storm eases up and we can get down the lane 

        ADAM

  If only the countryside had Uber, eh! 

The man looks unamused and heads into the kitchen, slinging the rabbit onto the kitchen surface. 

        MILLIE 

  Do you have a phone we could use? My mobile isn’t getting any signal out here. 

The man grunts towards a landline telephone attached to the wall. He puts a whistling kettle onto the stove and notions for Adam to follow him into the front room. Millie grabs Adam’s arm before he leaves the room: 

        MILLIE 

  I’m going to try calling your parents to see if they can pick us up. I’m just praying now that the telephone lines haven’t been taken down by the sto- 

A bolt of lightning illuminates the room, alerting Millie and Adam to the man who is back at the stove top making a hot drink. The rabbit’s head sits a foot away from its body on the kitchen surface. Millie lets out another gasp. The man makes three drinks, puts a splash of whisky in one and takes it into the other room, leaving two hot mugs and an open bottle of whisky on the counter. Adam moves towards the counter: 

        MILLIE 

  (in hushed, urgent tones) Adam! 

        ADAM

  What?

        MILLIE 

  We don’t know this man! He could be a murderer for all we know!

        ADAM 

  Oh don’t be silly Millie- does he seem weirdly familiar to you, too? Anyway, if he was going to kill us we would already be dead 

        MILLIE 

  Like the rabbit?!

Adam looks uncomfortably at the rabbit on the counter. 

        ADAM

  Since when have you, Millie Rogers, ever been afraid of anything? Where’s the legend that worked her ass off to get the job with Olympia? Huh? 

Millie hugs Adam, nervous but somewhat reassured. 

        MAN 

  Rogers, you say? Like Cathy?[hb6]  

They stop hugging, suddenly aware that he has come back into the room. He has taken off his thick hunting jacket and flat cap to reveal a cosy knitted jumper and warm, kind eyes. He looks straight at Millie, making eye contact for the first time. 

        MILLIE

  Catherine was my grandmother’s name

The man goes over to the counter, pours a splash of whisky into the other two mugs and gives them to Adam and Millie. 

        MAN 

  Come in here and make y’selves comfortable.

They follow the man from the kitchen into a traditional cottage front room. There is a fire in the hearth, and everything seems somewhat stagnant; old and unchanged. There are some used mugs on the table and mantelpiece. The fire in the hearth crackles, and the rain falls, hitting the windows with repetitive, ambient re-assuredness.

MILLIE 

How do you know Nana’s name?

Director’s Note- could do flashbacks during this section[hb7] 

MAN 

Until ten years ago I lived over in Swanton, the village ten miles over or so with my wife, Susie. Met when we were in school- we were those proper stereotypical young sweethearts. She was the love of my life. I didn’t go two days without her for about forty five years. Then fifteen years ago she got cancer. 

  ADAM 

That’s awful, I’m so sorry. 

        MAN

She fought hard, for years and years. Chemotherapy; radiotherapy; surgery; immunotherapy- she had the lot. There were days when she was so weak from all the treatment that she could barely lift an arm. But slowly, surely, it seemed like it was working; we thought she was getting better, thought she could come home. I left the hospital that night with a spring in my step, knowing I was getting my Susie back in the morning. 

He pauses to take a sip of his drink, the memory clearly still painful. 

        MAN 

  She died in her sleep. Painless, they said. 

        MILLIE 

  I’m so sorry. 

        MAN 

  I couldn’t stay in Swanton, not in our house, so I moved here. Susie had always said she wanted to do a marathon, but life always seemed to get on top of her. So every day I walk a little further, slowly completing Susie’s marathon. 

        MILLIE 

  That’s so lovely. Is that how you met my nana? She loved to walk. 

        MAN 

  She surely did. I realised not long into living here that I saw the same face every day in about the same place. We would pass each other, occasionally exchange pleasantries. I got to our spot one day and she was standing there, waiting. “Which way are you going?” she said, as if we didn’t both walk the same route in reverse each day. I pointed, and we set off. We walked together every day for ages, until she turned round to me and said “I’m busy tomorrow morning, so I’ll see you in the Lion’s Heart in the evening. Is 7pm ok?” And that was that. I never thought I could ever find someone who could come close to filling the hole in my heart that Susie left, but your nana was quite the woman. We walked together for so many years; she always said how she wanted me to meet her grandchildren. She missed you. 

        MILLIE 

  She was an incredible woman. I’ll never forgive myself for not visiting more. 

        ADAM 

  You can’t say that, Millie. She was so proud of you

        MILLIE 

  (To MAN) I can’t believe we never met before. It was actually Nana that told us to go on this trip, just before the heart attack.

        MAN 

  I guess she’s looking down pretty happy now, eh. 

        ADAM 

  She’s probably pissed at us for not bringing waterproofs. 

They laugh fondly. 

        MAN 

  Why don’t you two go and get into some nice clean clothes and we’ll leave yours to dry, it looks like you’re going to be here all night. 

        ADAM 

  Thank you so much 

        MAN 

  Of course; you’re practically family 

        MILLIE 

  I’m sure you’ve got lots of stories about Nana for us. 

        MAN 

  Oh like you wouldn’t believe! 

They start going upstairs. 

        MAN 

  So that very first night at the pub… 

FADE OUT 

24/11/2020

About Author

Avatar

Charlie King


Calendar
March 2021
M T W T F S S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  
Latest Comments
About Us

The University of East Anglia’s official student newspaper. Concrete is in print and online.

If you would like to get in touch, email the Editor on Concrete.Editor@uea.ac.uk. Follow us at @ConcreteUEA.