Sun shining, Rose and Henry embarked on their daily walk through Middleton Woods.
They’d done the same walk since they retired twenty years ago; it had become a tradition. Their footsteps perfectly in sync, they strolled down the long, winding path. Henry’s voice swept through Rose’s hair, and she smiled contently.
Rose always had a smile on her face when Henry was around. It just so happened that Henry’s favourite saying, which he reminded Rose of every day, was ‘There’s always a reason to smile’. Henry was Rose’s reason to smile. He had been for as long as she could remember.
It was a long time ago that Henry had taken Rose on their first date. New leather jacket on, hair gelled to perfection, a strong scent of aftershave surrounding him, he turned up on Rose’s doorstep. He took her hand and they walked for what seemed like an eternity. Despite Rose’s persistent questions, not once did Henry give in and tell her where they were going.
Eventually the pair came to some woods, and Henry excitedly led Rose towards a breathtakingly large oak tree. Rose was unfamiliar with her surroundings (she’d only ever been in Middleton Woods) but the unknown made the experience all the more exciting.
They stood under the oak tree, holding hands and staring into each other’s eyes. It was a magical moment which seemed to last forever. After a while, Henry gently let go of Rose’s hand and pointed at the trunk of the oak tree. For the first time, Rose noticed there were carvings in the bark. She took a step closer, and realised it was a heart shape, with their initials wrote inside.
Her heart melted as she turned back to look at Henry, smiling from ear to ear. “This means we will be together forever” he whispered, pulling Rose into a tight embrace. Neither of them ever wanted to let go.
Rose began to tire as they walked closer to the bench on the path. Every time the two made this journey, they’d stop at this bench so Rose could have a break before they continued. The patent shoes she was wearing had rubbed her poor feet raw, so she kicked them off and sank into the bench with a sigh of relief.
Suddenly, Rose noticed something that she had never seen before – one of the trees next to the bench had carvings in it. She sat bolt upright and peered closer, rubbing her eyes to ensure they weren’t deceiving her. Sure enough, carved into the tree was a heart, and inside the heart were hers and Henry’s initials.
Overcome with joy, Rose turned back towards the bench, eyes brimming with tears. She had the biggest smile on her face.
“Look Henry, our carving!” she exclaimed, gazing fondly at the gold plate on the bench. The plate read ‘In loving memory of Henry; A Loving Husband’. And underneath, in small letters, it said ‘There’s always a reason to smile’.
Congratulations to Alannah who wins £25. The competition is still open so why not send us your short story or article.
The short stories can be true or made-up, and past or present. They can be up to 500 words long, and just need to have a south Leeds connection (LS10 or LS11).
Older folks might to tell us what life was like growing up years ago. If you weren’t born in South Leeds what we your first impressions when you arrived here? Can you recall an incident that sums up life in South Leeds? Remember to include the sights and sounds to draw us into your world.
Whatever your story, we would love to hear it.
If you have images to accompany the stories, all the better, please include them, but you don’t have to.
Please email your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org. To be included in the June newspaper we need all submissions in by 9am on Wednesday 20 May.