The Miracle Tree: part 2
Currently reading: The Mount
You might have noticed that I’ve posted very little actual content recently. The reason for this, put simply, is that I’ve been trying to write in the evening rather than the morning over the past few days. This, needless to say, didn’t work at all and I’m pleased to say that I’m now back to writing in the morning.
If I’m to keep up with my writing after getting a full time job, I have a feeling that I’ll have to start getting up exceedingly early. Won’t that be fun?
Anyway, on with the show…
Sally’s village was little more than a tiny collection of houses, all detached and with thatched roofs. Their walls, white by day, radiated the brilliant red of the setting sun. Cars of a variety of different shapes were parked on their driveways, which all extended from a single straight road. Sally glanced left and right, then crossed over to her house. The only moving traffic, as it turned out, was their next door neighbours’ ginger cat on one of his habitual evening strolls.
She sauntered up to the front door and used the knocker twice. To either side of her, potted plants danced in the evening breeze.
It had been a good run, but she didn’t feel remotely tired. She could happily have done it again, perhaps twice over. More important, however, was that she didn’t look or sound tired. Her brown hair was now in her face and she hurriedly brushed it back. Her breathing was slow and normal – nothing to worry about there.
The door opened.
‘Hi,’ she said.
‘Evening,’ her mother said, moving back to allow Sally through. ‘How’d it go?’
‘Good, thanks,’ Sally said as she stepped inside into the hallway. She shut the door after her. ‘All finished.’
Her mother smiled. ‘Well done,’ she said.
Sally’s mother was dressed in a snot green woollen sweater, a gift from Sally’s grandmother, which had on it a hand-stitched picture of what was supposedly a fish. Her hair, brown like a chestnut, hung in a ponytail down to the bottom of her neck. She had a square face, green eyes and pink lips.
‘Dinner’s in half an hour,’ she said, disappearing through the nearest doorway on the left. ‘See you in a bit.’
The house’s central hallway was narrow, being barely large enough to squeeze two people through at a time. There were two doorways on each side. On the left was the dining room and adjoining kitchen; on the left were a living room and a study. Directly in front of Sally was a set of stairs. She charged up them and around a corner, coming to a stop inside her bedroom. She closed her door behind her, tossed her bag onto the floor and then flung herself onto her bed.
It would be Sunday tomorrow. With her homework done and dusted already, she would have the whole day to herself. There was no doubt in her mind that she would be spending at least some of it under the tree. Or maybe even all of it, she thought. Perhaps she would take a book with her and while away the entire day under the tree’s gentle shadow.
The more she thought of it, the more the idea grew on her. No, not perhaps, she thought. Definitely.
She ambled over to her bookshelf. There was much in it to choose from: there were far more books on the shelf than she had ever actually read. She closed her eyes and pulled one out at random; it was a hardback and had a large insect on the front cover. She didn’t recognise the title. She opened up her backpack and tossed it in, listening to numerous papers crumple underneath it. Afterwards, she zipped the bag up tight and laid back down.
She was looking forward to tomorrow already.
The flavour from the tree’s grapes remained very much alive inside her. She basked in it until dinner was called.
Dinner was a bland affair – or maybe it just seemed that way. The family ate from a selection of tasteless chicken, potatoes and lifeless vegetables. It was nothing at all like the grapes but, of course, there was little that was. Their aftertaste was the only consolation, but that was now beginning to weaken. Sally hadn’t wanted to eat for precisely this reason and had not been feeling remotely hungry, but she could hardly have said as such without raising eyebrows. She sat at the table in silence and forced the meal down.
Clearly, two grapes had been insufficient. Tomorrow, she would try three. Maybe four. She was going to have all day, after all.
‘Your mother told me about your homework,’ her father said. ‘Good job. I knew you’d work it out.’
‘Thanks,’ she said.
Despite it being a Saturday, Sally’s dad had spent nearly all day at work and had only been home for around ten minutes. At the age of forty, he was already beginning to go bald. He had an oval face and a wrinkled forehead, with dark circles framing his eyes. His black briefcase had been left on the floor behind him.
He speared another chunk of meat with his fork. ‘I was thinking,’ he said. ‘It’s been a while since we’ve done anything as a three. How about we tootle off somewhere tomorrow, have a nice family day out?’
Sally froze. Not now! She could picture her perfect Sunday crumbling in front of her.
‘I think that’s an excellent idea, myself,’ her mother said. ‘What do you think, Sally?’
‘I think…’ Sally began.
She knew exactly what she thought, but whether she would voice it was another matter. She already had plans, she wanted to say. She wanted to spend the day on her own, she wanted to say. Then she looked at the tired eyes of her father and, immediately, she made up her mind.
‘I think we should do it,’ she said. She forced a smile. ‘Where to?’
‘Anywhere,’ he said. ‘I was thinking we could just drive around, take in the view, maybe stop for lunch somewhere along the way.’
‘Fine by me,’ she said.
After everyone had finished, Sally retreated to her room and shut her door. She took the book out of her bag, opened it, but then closed it again after two pages. She wasn’t in the mood for it now. She put it away exactly where she had found it. Maybe in a few days she would take it out again.
By now, the grapes’ flavour was completely gone. Her mouth felt bland and horrible. Two grapes at a time was definitely not going to be enough.
She punched her bookshelf.