The Fire Trees
by Brenda Anderson
Marek drew on his gardening gloves, flung open the door and surveyed his garden. The grass, flowers and compost had never smelled so sweet, yet something was missing. He tried to recall. Last night he’d been in bed with, was it Yvonne? Of course, Yvonne. Who could forget the curve of her hips or those perfect breasts?
But she’d gone. He shook his head. Sooner or later all his gorgeous, sexy women left. Yvonne had hated his lush collection of plants, bushes, creepers, fruit trees, flowers. Lately they’d had white hot, migraine-inducing arguments. Like the one before her, Sally. Those two could have been sisters.
Marek went back to the garden.
Two fiery trees leaned in and showered sparks over him. He leapt back, eyes itching, cheeks burning. Hot! So hot! He shielded his eyes and peered at the trees. Such unique, supremely collectible specimens. They reminded him of something. Someone. Yvonne, maybe. Now there was a woman who played along for a while but then flared up and lost her temper.
His phone lit up. Voicemail. He pressed the button. Yvonne breathed, ‘It’s flora and fauna you really want to get your hands on, isn’t it, Marek? But Nature’s red and raw, remember. How are you this morning, baby? Are you up to it?’
He raised an eyebrow. Nature red and raw, huh? Perhaps Yvonne was far more intuitive than he’d thought. He opened the door a fraction. The two trees dipped their branches as if in salute. Damn. Friendly trees. Unfriendly women. He never got it right.
Marek dug out some aluminium foil and scratched a message: “I thought you hated my plants. Or do you want to check them out? Are you jealous, now?” He slipped the foil under the door, waited a few minutes and opened the door again. The trees were tossing his message, screwed into a silver ball, back and forth like a ping pong ball. Was that a yes?
He thought hard. Lavishing undivided attention on every woman he’d loved, over time he’d collected many glorious specimens. Perhaps if he worked on giving them better conditions? Holidays? Time off? What exactly did they want? Himself? He couldn’t get enough of women, except when he worked in his garden. Maybe they missed the little things: shopping, chatting.
Women. He loved ‘em without clothes or cell phones.
Yvonne’s voicemail. Was it possible? Surely she couldn’t…? He thought back. Sally. Come to think of it, the two women had been friends.
He opened the door a fraction. The trees flung sparks at him. He closed it. No. No resemblance. And yet…
A smoking sheet of foil appeared under the door, bearing this message:
Paying attention now?
All his women were hot, hot, hot. His plants danced for his pleasure, of course: trees swayed in the breeze, leaves fluttered, flowers bowed their pretty heads, but his women were hot.
Marek slipped off his gardening gloves.
Perhaps he’d try a new approach, somewhere between kid gloves and oven mitts. His women deserved no less. He’d get it right, one of these days.
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Brenda Anderson’s fiction has appeared in various places, most recently in Flash Fiction Online and Every Day Fiction. She lives in Adelaide, South Australia, and tweets irregularly @CinnamonShops.