Good trees come in threes!

Angus Trimmings should have known better than to accept Vivian Amberville’s Christmas gift. The two of them sharing a history of strong dislike was reason enough to classify any gift coming from Vivian as “suspicious”. The gardener, however, couldn’t resist the prospect of owning three of Ærria’s finest fast-growing saplings.

‘Just plant them right in,’ said Vivian, handing Angus the three special saplings, ‘and they’ll grow into fully-matured trees by the end of the week!’

The gardener did as advised and planted the three alien saplings on the Amberville Manor’s precincts.

The following day, Angus went about his normal gardening duties – trimming the lawn here, adjusting a topiary bush there – only to find the saplings missing. In the place he had planted them were thee empty patches of dug-up soil.

‘She must’ve moved ‘em!’ cried Angus. ‘Lil she-devil replanted me saps!’

Feeling angry and mocked, he grudgingly accepted the saplings had been moved, and went about his gardening business as usual.

The following morning, Angus stepped into the garden only to find the saplings in yet another place.

‘Takin’ da mickey again, is she?’ Angus swore to himself, angrily snapping his shears at unsuspecting birds. ‘Well now, should’ve known betta than prank Master Angus!’

Angus Trimmings poured 500cc. of petrol in his electric chainsaw and rushed to the rear gardens, with thoughts of sticky sap and sawdust in mind. The small trio of trees, however, was no longer there. Angus stashed his electric saw back in his shed, cursing under his breath.

‘Dey were just here, dammit! Just now!’ he shook his head from side to side. ‘Quit moving me trees, tummy-bug!’

He searched the garden, looking everywhere for his small trees. After combing the garden for hours on end, he gave up his search and went to bed for the night.

The next day, Angus Trimmings woke up with murderous intents at the back of his mind. He was on his way to giving Vivian an ugly piece of his mind when he spotted three bushy canopies disturbing the otherwise perfect pattern of garden hedges. They were no longer an assembly of small trees; they were bloody colossal!

‘How’d’she get ‘em ova’ here so quickly?’ said Angus, scratching his orange stubble. ‘Dey’re five storeys high!’

Vivian couldn’t have moved three elephant-sized trees without leaving a trace; no one could. Angus Trimmings decided that by hook or by crook, he was going to get to the bottom of this.

In the following days, the gardener had made it his personal occupation to keep track of his wandering trees. On Fridays, he noticed, the trees congregated by the gazebo of roses, where they would drain all the water in the koi pond, consume all the manure and strip surrounding trees of their bark. Saturdays, he would often find the trees lying on horizontal surrounded by fallen leaves, with their canopies dishevelled and tree-sap foaming around their trunks.

‘Dey be movin’ about on their own, then?’

Mondays and Wednesdays were better, thought Angus, since the trees were satisfied with standing about in a semi-vegetative state while sluggishly laying waste to his coffee-bushes.

‘Good trees. Betta then having friends, these Leafy, Barky and Stumpy,’ whispered the gardener, wiping off a tear. ‘Aww, bless ‘em ligneous hearts. Aymma adopt the lot!’

Over the next few days, a thin ginger man could sometimes be seen standing beside a trio of trees, with a large bottle of brandy, while laughing himself hysterically.

‘What in seven hells is he doing?’ Kate asked, peaking through the kitchen curtains. Vivian joined.

‘Heβ€” he fancies them. Spends time with them even. Keeps saying they’re the family he never had,’ said Vivian miserably. ‘So much for my practical joke.’

‘Should have known better than to give that old nutcase a bunch of sentient Wandering Trees!’

In all his initial anger and bile, Angus Trimmings couldn’t find it in himself to be rid of them. Trees are better than people, he always said. Months passed and Leafy, Barky and Stumpy became a permanent addition to the Amberville gardens.

- Louise Blackwick

Advent 2017