“Why did you cut it all off?”
She stares out the window.
“Why?” he repeats.
She turns to him slightly, her eyes narrowing with disapproval. “Why, Stanley? Why does everything turn into a drama with you?”
Stanley turns from her, looks out the window. She studies, with a sliver of pleasure, the wretched lines upon his face, and knows he’s taking in the trauma of the open wound -- taking in the splattering of dying leaves remaining in the yard. She turns back to the window -- a small breeze blows across the grass; the leaves burst into life. His voice quivers slightly. “You knew, I loved it. Looked at it everyday . . .”
She rolls her eyes impatiently. “It was banging against the house. Threatening its very existence. Keeping me up at night.”
His eyes come back to her, a little danger in them. “And, I suppose, he did it.”
She laughs sharply. “Well, I certainly wasn’t going to climb up that tree with a chainsaw strapped to my back!” She sees Stanley shiver slightly at mention of the chainsaw. She laughs again. “Vrrrrrmm,” she says. He cringes.
The image of Pablo shimmying up the tree -- the chainsaw strapped to his glistening muscular back, his arms rippling with the effort -- makes her smile. It was a hot day, and she’d sat on the patio, two sweating glasses of lemonade nearby, and watched the gardener ease his body onto the limb. “Be careful, Pablo!” she’d called. His smile flashing down on her; then the excitement of the noise, the ripping away of the branch, the thrill as the limb hit the ground, the leaves fluttering up in despair. Then Pablo climbing back down -- watching him rip the branch apart -- coming over, every now and then, to smile at her, wiping gently at the sweat along his brow, reaching his hand out and sipping from her offering of cold lemonade . . .
Her beautiful memory is suddenly shattered by her husband’s words.
“You could’ve had him trim it just a bit,” he whines. “It surely wasn’t necessary to lop off the entire thing!”
She tilts her head Stanley’s way, looks away from his tragic face, slides her eyes over his slopping shoulders, runs her eyes down the soft swell of his belly, and wonders; what could she have Pablo lop off next?