Week two of our Tandem Blog Post series in which seven writers receive a title every week and then produce whatever the title inspires in them – had some really hardcore, emotional, quite challenging pieces from some of our writers last week – who knows what mood they will be in this week? Please make sure you click on the next post at the bottom and make your way through as many of them as you can.

We would LOVE it if you have a moment to write an impression/thought/response/encouragement in the comments section below the post you read… This is going to be a four week series and we all hope that you will enjoy it very much – if there is a story/piece you particularly enjoy, feel free to SHARE it across your social media platforms…

This week’s Title was ‘Behind the Tree’ and so without much further ado about nothing, here is my version of:

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Have they gone? I risk a quick look. Nothing. I just might be safe for a while.

I listen to myself panting heavily as I try to catch my breath.

Feeling very vulnerable in my hiding spot behind this big oak tree, I am tempted to run once again to seek out a better place of refuge, but I need to be absolutely sure I won’t be seen.

I use the time to look a little more carefully at my generous protector and notice that someone has carved a heart deep into the bark, with the words “Nick 4 Janice” in the middle of it. Probably Nick, I think to myself, unless some oddball friend of the couple really thought theirs was a love worth violently celebrating. ‘Sorry Mister Tree’, I whisper out loud, before I can catch myself doing it. ‘What are you doing?’, I hiss, ‘Pay attention!’

I listen to my own breath as I heavily breathe in, filling up my lungs to capacity. ‘How did it even get to this?’ I thought in my head, ‘Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.’

Somewhere out there, pursuing me with great vigour, were two very different groups…

One armed with pitchforks and flaming torches, seemed ravenous. They were on a mission and that mission was me and a very desperate need to put me in my place. At least that’s all, I was hoping, if I ever got caught, which I really didn’t intend to. The large stake that Paul was dragging behind himself at the back of the group and the can of Kerosene that someone else was casually swinging at their side, made me a little more nervous. But that was all just for show, right? I mean we don’t do THAT any more… Still, they seemed quite invigorated by their Passion.

The second group possibly alarmed me even more. That group seemed a lot more cheerful and were taking their time scouring the surroundings, with intermittent cries of, “There he is. Oh no, wait, that was just a cat in the bushes.” LOLs. They were armed with banners and posters and perhaps one of them had a purple piece of material she had grabbed as they had set out on their journey. Some might think it looked robe-like. i wasn’t hoping to find out. And i am REALLY hoping that glinting thing i caught a brief glimpse of as they passed my earlier hiding place had not been a crown.

i decided to do a quick calculation. It would probably take me seven seconds to break away from my place of relative safety behind this tree and to sprint towards greater cover behind the bushes not too far behind me. If by chance i was seen though, that would likely turn this whole thing into a dramatically tumultuous dash for the river, another third of a kilometer through the bushes. If that happened, it was anyone’s bet as to whether i would get away or not.

That was exactly what happened.

i almost made it to the bushes undetected as well, but at the last second decided to look behind me to make sure i hadn’t been seen. Precisely at the moment my foot caught that rock and sent me crashing down to the ground. i had jumped to my feet and thrown myself into the foliage ahead of me, but my fall and the accompanying sound, had been enough to alert both groups who had been nearing the corner from opposite ends of the building.

“There he is get him!” were the last words i managed to focus on as i tried to force all my energy into a run, although there continued to be a lot of excited noise, and was some of it cheering?, as i heard a mass of people hurtling towards me, now indiscernible from one another.

i made it to the river, only marginally ahead of the leaders of the pack who had broken free and were relentlessly gaining on me, and managed to half dive, half fling myself at the water and hope that the tide would be enough to carry me away from this madness. Last thing i vaguely remember was my head smashing against a rock, hidden beneath the surface, and then nothing…

[Time Passes]

i sit up with a gasp of panic. Instantly someone is at my side grabbing my shoulders, smiling at me and telling me everything is going to be okay. i recognise a member of my tribe and know immediately that i am safe. i slowly lie back down, feeling the repetitive throbbing of my head beneath the makeshift bandage that has been applied. i will sleep until i am ready to wake up and then i will gratefully drink up the soup they have ready for me on the stove and then we will share stories together and probably laugh and cry and try and make sense of it all. But for now i am home.

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i hoped you enjoyed my piece. Make sure you check out Nick Frost’s interpretation which you can see over here.

We will all be back next week for round 3 of Tandem Blog posting. Try and read as many of them as you can…

What did you think of this one?