Here’s the thing and you needn’t believe a word I say, seeing as atheism’s all the rage with you people, but when they told me Ascend to a higher plane, how was I to know they didn’t mean a tree? We’re all for literal-speaking where I come from, don’t go for the softly-softly approach that’s so popular with your so-called men of the cloth. Allegory’s for wimps. You want it in black and white (especially white), you come to me.
So here I’m sat, twiddling my celestial thumbs (radiant, if you must know, nails out to here) and this bugger in a Barbour rolls up and asks what the bloody hell I think I’m playing at, sitting in his flaming tree in the middle of Winter without a stitch on.
“Well, first of all,” I point out, as you might expect, “the tree is not flaming.” I had a hand in the whole burning bush scenario and believe me, this tree isn’t remotely in that league, and secondly — here’s the rub, I reckon — who says the tree’s his, exactly?
“I paid for the bloody thing,” says he, waving a fist like a turnip (or possibly it is a turnip, hard to tell from where I’m sitting and, since you ask, yes the bark is chafing, something chronic), “this is my land, far as the eye can see.”
Quick as a flash, I’m in there with, “Depends on the eye, matey,” and that’s when things turn nasty.
“Been in my family for generations, this land!”
“Bully for you.”
“I’ve had it up to here with you ruddy Pagans!” he yells.
“Pardon me,” I say, all righteous indignation, “I am not a Pagan.”
“Well you look like a bloody Pagan, sat up there, starkers!”
When I try to tell him I am as our Lord intended, he gets even snippier. “I’ll have the council onto you! They cleared the gypos off here last month and they can bloody clear you.”
“I should like,” I demur, “to see them try.”
Patience in spades, that’s yours truly. Won’t catch me foaming at the mouth over a silly thing like the Magna Carta and who owns what around where.
“What gives you the right to sit there?” he demands and I’m glad he does because it gives me the perfect opportunity to say, serene as you please, “It’s my God-given right to plant my arse on any branch in his Creation and I’ll thank you to remember as much.”
“Thank me, will you? Come down here and say that!”
Now it may be that in Heaven an angel is no-one in particular, as that bearded old blasphemer Bernard Shaw would have us think, but down here we reckon to be treated with a little more respect than your average punter. Holier than thou and all that sort of thing, so I look this piece of work in the eye and I say, lofty as you like, “Sod off, you’re spoiling the view.”
He only goes to fetch a chainsaw, doesn’t he?
Time, I reckon, for a nifty ascension. So I say my peace to the nesting blackbirds and hibernating squirrels and what-have-you, and cut loose in a shower of gold and glitter. Shame the old bastard missed it, but I left him something to think about: his plane tree in full bloom, frothy blossom, emerald leaves–the works.
A little bit of Spring in the middle of Winter, that’s me. And anyone who says different can sling his blighted chainsaw and get stuffed.
Sarah Hilary won the Fish Historical-Crime Contest with her story, “Fall River, August 1892″³. Her story, “The Eyam Stones”, was runner-up in the Historical Contest. Both stories will be published in the Fish Anthology 2008. Sarah’s stories have been published in The Beat, Neon, Every Day Fiction, Idlewheel and the Boston Literary Magazine. Her short story, “On the line”, was published in the Daunt 2006 anthology. The Subatomic 2007 anthology features her story, “LoveFM”. She won the Litopia Contest in 2007 with “The Chaperon”. Sarah lives in the Cotswolds with her husband and young daughter.