Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Cherry Tree

She said she liked living in Camberwell because of its abundant, open sky. The buildings are low and the streets are wide and you can see the sky. She didn’t like south-west London. She found the buildings too high and the roads too narrow. She didn't like that lack of sky.

The cherry tree looked a long way off as I stepped into her garden. I looked past the tall nettles and at the back in the left-hand corner. The cherry tree stood alone, past the nettles, like a small vision of Eden in an otherwise Hades of a concrete back garden. I saw ripe cherries on the tree and said, ‘the cherries look ripe.’ She said, ‘yes, they’re ripe. They’re just right. But I hate going out there. I always sting my legs and crunch snails. I hate the sound of snails being crushed. I’m too scared to go over there.’

There was a short silence.

I felt like a contestant on the TV series the Crystal Maze with Richard O'Brian. I was about to say I’d pick some but she said again, ‘I hate going over there’, and said it like she was expecting me to go over there.

But all I said was ‘yes’ as I still stared at the cherries in the distance like a dream and the possibility of them. I didn’t get the cherries and I didn’t get the girl. It was probably for the best.

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