What does a tree have to do to get noticed? In ten minutes, the gates to ‘Bert’s Living Christmas Trees’ will close and my chance at finding a forever home will be over.
Do people not appreciate the effort I put into presenting myself as the perfect Christmas tree? Look at my branches. Are they not thick with glossy dark green foliage, perfect for highlighting red and silver baubles? Do they not hang with precision to mimic a wild tree bending beneath the weight of snow? I even went to the trouble of spacing my branches to make it easier to hang tinsel. My lower trunk is self-pruned, allowing plenty of room for presents. My roots are firm in the pot; I will not fall. I’ve stored enough energy in my cells to survive a week indoors: my fronds won’t turn brown and drop. What more do I have to do?
Is it my height? After three years of Bert’s nurturing, I’m taller than the security fence surrounding the yard. I didn’t think I’d be here long enough to see over the top. In fact, I never considered the possibility that, for many of us, a forever home will remain a dream. Why did I not realize that until now?
I’m the tallest tree in the yard. If I don’t find a home, what will become of me? Bert’s a kind human, but he can’t keep me forever. My roots will eventually ball inside the pot, my foliage will make me top-heavy. Falling will be a daily worry, especially in a high wind. What if I topple over? Would Bert drive a stake into my pot and wrap tape around my truck to hold me upright? How would that make me look?
This is my fault. I should have curbed my appetite during my first year in the nursery. Instead of dreaming of the day I’d adorn a family’s living room, I should have listened to the bonsai Christmas trees who shouted from their shelf about staying small. Small is easy to carry. Small doesn’t scratch the ceiling. Small doesn’t incur the extra cost of cartage, though Bert offers a reasonable rate for the use of his trailer. Small is saleable. No wonder I’m still here.
It’s too late to change my eating habits. And time has run out. The last influx of customers search for their special tree, but none come near me. My branches droop. I’ll never see colours dance on my fronds from blinking Christmas lights. I’ll never hear Christmas carols. Christmas is not Christmas without carols.
“That one is the perfect height.”
I raise my branches. A man wearing a black suit points at me. Bert stands at his side, a grin splitting his face.
“A fine specimen, Councilor Miller. I’ll have it delivered and planted in the town square today.”
The town square?
My trunk swells with pride. That’s a forever home with everybody. And, oh, the Christmas carols…
Oh, Christmas Tree was long-listed in the Australian Writers Centre, Furious Fiction December 2021 short story writing competition and required the following prompts:
- Each story had to include a tree.
- Each story had to include something being taped.
- Each story had to include the words DANCE, SEARCH and CHANGE.
To view the winning and shortlisted stories and learn more about this fun competition CLICK HERE