I’m getting ready to say goodbye, preparing to have regrets. One sentence in a five-minute discussion with a stranger and I already know the outcome.
“My boss’ll pay to have that giant pine tree taken down.”
Later that afternoon I walked through the front door, down the steps, and out into the street. I faced the house, tried to hold my hand so that I blocked the fifty foot evergreen on the right side of our home. Failed. I lifted my other hand and partially covered its twin on the left. I’m pretty sure if one goes, the other will follow.
“The one on the right could be the presidential Christmas tree,” I murmur to no one. “And they could use the other one at the
Center in New York City.”
The men will assure me it’s the right thing to do.
“Our roof,” my husband will surely say.
“My rental,” the landlord will add.
I’ll think a thought but not say it: The sky-touching trees make our house seem magical, like a castle. Do men these days still dream of castles?
I return to the kitchen. Make a cappuccino and sip it at the table, channel Scarlett O’Hara.
“Tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll think tree thoughts.”
Actually, can we please delay the tree talk for a few days? So I can celebrate a little while longer the fact that the nocturnal wraith that lived next door for five years, or was it four, is now gone? I picture the plum-hued smudges beneath her eyes. Recall how they looked like an Ash Wednesday priest missed her forehead, twice.
I wonder if the lives of her dogs will improve—Doberman, Pit Bull, Doberman, sweet boys all. For the last few months I’ve only spied each of them out in the yard once a week, if that. I imagine their nearly diaphanous pet mom in her dingy camisole and rumpled gym shorts with rolled-down waistband, wearing striped rainboots. By now she must be knee-deep in dog doo. I pity the extreme-makeover-home-edition folks that will soon arrive, consider going next door with my
and Body Works three-wick “Winter” candle and some clothespins.
I ponder what will become of Pet Mom. “I’m going to kill you!” Those words were hurled at her on our street last month. Made us all shudder. Someone called the cops but without probable cause all they could do was knock on the front and back doors. No one answered.
Earlier this week, I’d peeked out from behind a drape. Watched the U-Haul move slowly down the street, her black sedan with
York plates creeping after. At first I grinned and
clapped. Then I stopped myself. Exhaled and sagged. I stretched my hand out till
my fingers pressed against the cold window.
“I should’ve told you shalom,” I whispered. “It means hi, bye, peace be with you, covenant relationship with God.” I gripped my throat. “’cause I think you’re gonna need it, sweetheart, wherever you go.”
I darted out onto the porch and down to the street, thought maybe . . . But the truck and car had already disappeared around the bend. I spoke anyway, to no one.
“I really should’ve told you that in person. I’m sorry, that I didn’t.”