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The Tall Tree
A Story by
Stephen Owen

Eustace was a lonely lad. At sweet fifteen he smoked some pot. Then, when he played the piano that Mrs Grant had given him, he saw Merlin standing over him, with a golden beard, long golden hair, and sea-blue eyes.

He wrote a simple song with piano accompaniment for Merlin. It was called "Wild Green Summer". Eustace often played and sang "Wild Green Summer", until he was seventeen, and the grind for 'A' levels loomed. Then he contracted a speech defect and a stutter. This was after reading Thomas Hardy's "Jude the Obscure". It was the text set for 'A' level.

Five years fled by, and Eustace had done a lot of meditation under the Tall Tree in Priory Park. The Tall Tree was at the low end of Priory Park, by the brook, and ninety yards from the train station. He fled to the tree the first time his parents called out Dr Dixon. Eustace had simply been offered a range of pills by Dr Dixon.

"There's someone here to see you", said Eustace's mother.
And Dr Dixon was sitting in the kitchen, his suit snail-coloured. He left quickly.

John McVicar, the older lad across the street had always been in and out of Highlands Asylum. He had huge green eyes, and longish hair. He rode a racing bike, and was employed in the County Surveyor's Department. When Eustace plugged in the damaged electric guitar he and Bob Smith had nicked from the Church Hall, John McVicar would knock at the front door. Eustace always said "No". He was scared of John, and what people used to say about him.

But that was years ago. The Tall Tree never said anything. It just listened, and watched.

But the Tall Tree could talk to other trees up at Highlands Hospital. And it knew that those trees were ill. They couldn't grow properly, and what they saw frightened them.

SJ Owen

Episode 2 >