‘That damn tree blocks the light,’ he said. ‘It has to come down.’ She’d tried to convince him otherwise, reminding him how the tree had been there since they’d moved in, 40 years ago. ‘Gold crests nest in that tree,’ she’d said, ‘and squirrels. It’s not doing any harm.’ He dropped the net curtain and turned to her, ‘Not yet its not, but it will. It has to be fixed now, while there’s time.’
She made him breakfast and brought him his pills. He went out to the shed and sharpened the axe. There would be signs the doctor had said. Things to watch out for; she kept a constant vigil. ‘Stop fussing’ he said, but she couldn’t help it. It was habit now. Perhaps she’d always been on the look out for trouble, trouble that proved she didn’t deserve the happiness she’d felt. This kind of happiness. ‘Maybe if we’d had children, you’d have more to think about,’ he said once but what could she say, it wasn’t for want of trying.
She watched him as he swung the axe, refusing help or the loan of a chainsaw, though the young man next door had offered both. His large hands shook, despite the pills. But the axe caught and pulled and was true. And the tree came down, a long resinous brush of fir, still living somehow, still something; a hinge of bark connecting it with its roots. She took him a cup of tea and he drank it, in the new light that now spread over the garden.
About the Contributor
Heidi James’s novel Wounding was published by Bluemoose Books in April, 2014. She was a finalist for the Cinnamon Poetry Collection Prize. Her novella The Mesmerist’s Daughter (published by Neon Press in April 2015) won the Saboteur Award. Her novella Carbon, was published in English by Blatt and in Spanish by El Tercer Nombre. So the Doves is her second novel and is the Sunday Times Crime Book of the Month.
Insomniac City - Bill Hayes
Because to love - at any age - is to always accept the potential for loss, for grief, for loneliness and sorrow, and do it anyway... love is an act of extraordinary bravery because to love is to win and lose all at on
More from Issue Nine:
- The Place That He Can Never Return To
- The Cyclops
- The Girl with Many Names by Kristin LaFollette
- Three by Deb Scudder
- The Mourner by Louise Burgess
- Margot by Marni Appleton
- Pebbles on a Shore by Lynne E Blackwood
- blindfolded minds by Rachel Hawkins
- Phantom habits by Blakeley Bartee
- Dementia’s Mantra by Mike Ferguson
- Pack Animals