Short Story: Poison Tree

I am still sick. I forgot to post. Have a short story.

Five years ago, she’d planted this flower. Watered it, waiting for it to grow strong and healthy. Eventually it flowered, the blooms bell shaped, the berries dark. For five long years, Sylvie tended the plant. She carefully donned her gardening gloves, fertilised the roots and waited. Today, at last, it was time.

Sylvie had planted an apple tree, the day she brought Christie home from the hospital. Her husband by her side, laughing as he handed her the root stock they’d purchased at a local nursery. Sylvie had wanted her daughter’s life to be happy, for her to thrive as the apple tree thrived, shooting up in the garden of their small home, producing fragrant white blossoms every spring.

In the autumn, the petals would rain down, creating a carpet for Christie to play on with her dolls. Later, Christie would climb the tree to gather fruit, and together mother and daughter would bake tarts and pies and jam. A swing had been hung from the branch of the tree the summer before Christie’s father had died, struck down in his prime by a heart attack. A genetic condition, the doctors had said, nothing to be done.

The silver lining, one had told her, was that it was quick. Sylvie slapped him and walked away. Christie had cried underneath the tree then, turning her face away when Sylvie would come to comfort her daughter through the smothering veil of her own grief.

Christie was still young, only twelve, and just beginning to blossom into the woman she would become. Sylvie began to work longer and longer hours, trying to keep up the payments for the house, for Christie’s school, for everything. Slowly, their warm family home was replaced by a dark house and cold dinner waiting in the fridge as Christie arrived home from school.

Instead of spending weekends at the park, or afternoons playing in the garden, Christie visited food courts and neighbours’ houses. Not all who volunteered to spend time with the girl had pure intentions, and pests soon infested the tree.

By the time Sylvie noticed the welling tears and hard expressions, the apple tree had already begun to rot. When Christie had disappeared, and police had called a week later to explain that while the search had been successful, Sylvie would not be getting her daughter back, she had broken.

Taking an axe from the shed, she’d hacked the tree to a stump.

When the trial had ended, the monster who had stolen her Christie from her receiving only five years Christie had once more gone to the garden centre.

For five years, the shrub had climbed over the stump of the apple tree, feeding on Christie’s stolen future. At last, Sylvie plucked a handful of the deadly, gleaming berries. Only three streets away was the home of her daughter’s newly released killer. Before long, he’d find a welcome basket on his front stair, and within would be an apple-berry pie, and long postponed justice.

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