I don’t know if you can see the photo of these two old trees. One’s dead, and the other is barely alive. My husband and I planted these trees years and years ago. He’s dead now – the husband. He planted the dead one. I planted the other one, the one that’s gnarled and barely alive. I’ll be eighty-seven this coming October.
There used to be a house roughly where the person taking the photo would be standing. That was our house. The first and only house we had. The two children were born there. It was our dream place; a lovely house, not too big and not too small, set on twelve acres of what could only be described as park land. We planted those two trees (and a number of others here and there) as part of the “landscaping” of our park. Our life was like a perpetual honeymoon.
Jude had built the house himself. And I helped of course, as best I could. I sewed drapes and did the painting and wall-papering and so on. Jude was the one with the saw and the hammer and the screw driver and the muscle. It was like a dream come true!
After the birth of the second child things fell apart. We’d been in the house for four years and we put it up for sale. No one ever bought it and Jude disappeared before any divorce proceedings began. I leased out most of the land to a neighbouring farmer and stayed in the house with the children. They’re gone now – the children. Tony’s a lawyer up in the big city, and Rachel manages a business that teachers adults how to do basic computer things.
My current house gets quite cold in winter, so I’ve asked Tony to come and cut down that dead tree for firewood. The one that’s barely alive has a few more years left in it. It might sound cruel but I’m looking forward to burning logs of Jude’s tree throughout the winter. It’s good he’s serving some purpose at this stage of my life. Apart from building the house he wasn’t much good for much when he was here. In fact he was useless. And mean; really mean. It’s why I did him in.
Burgess must have been one of the most obnoxious people on the planet. It’s hard to say exactly why. It was little things he did that drove people crazy. For example, when dining at a restaurant he would blow his nose on his napkin as if it was a tissue or a handkerchief. He would poke his finger in his ear and scratch as if it was itching and wipe his hand on his pullover. He would… Ok. Ok. You get the point.
Why he got on so well with Averil beggared belief. Averil was so prim and proper. When dining at a fancy restaurant she would delicately dab her lips with her napkin, and say “Pardon” even if the belch had been inaudible. Everyone was shocked when Burgess and Averil announced their engagement. A marriage simply would not work.
The marriage was just over a month ago. And then off they went on their honeymoon to some isolated spot somewhere in the region of Vanuatu. They both liked scuba diving and there was a resort that specialized in it. That was probably why they chose to honeymoon there. People back home joked that Vanuatu could well be the place that would see this clearly unsuitable couple fly home on separate flights.
They did fly home separated but on the same flight, each in their own casket. The tsunami had hit without warning.
Ursula and Lockwood are newlyweds. They are honeymooning in an exotic island location. (We shall not name the exact place as we wouldn’t want paparazzi to ruin their blissful time).
How they did things hand in hand! watched the fountain play with fantasy lights; visited the zoo and laughed at the spitting llama; fed the ducklings at the park. Next they went to the village market. Lockwood tossed balls at a bunch of coconuts and won for Ursula a fluffy stuffed panda with a bright red ribbon. And then there was the fortune-teller…
“Throw these cards into the air,” said the soothsayer. “One card will land face-up. That will be your future.”
Ursula tossed the cards. One fell face-up.
An argument will end your marriage. You will both die in a plane crash.
Ursula and Lockwood are scared stupid. They are currently staying in separate hotel rooms afraid to speak lest they argue. They await separate flights out.