• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 08
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An Arboreal Proposal

‘Oh, Mr Black Tie Man, you are not the lover for me.’

‘But why not?’

He allows his sadness a single, starched tear. Too many tears and the world will descend into chaos.

She will not say anything more than this:

‘Look at the trees, Mr Black Tie Man. They will teach you to become a true lover.’

The ring, he carries about in his breast pocket. Although it is as close to his heart as is humanly possible without surgery, it is too unnatural a ring for hers to submit to — too faultless, too flawless. It lurks underneath his silken pocket square, this fingerless manifestation of elusive amore, as he casually regards the irregularity of the trees in the park around him.

The woman leaves, noting with disdain that Mr Black Tie Man’s life in the City could be carbon-dated by the uniform pinstripes of his suit.

In a quandary of anguish and desperation, he stands tall, puffs out his chest, and experiences an excessive quantity of tears rolling down his cheeks. Tear after tear waters the ground around him. Still, he remains, and he remains still.

The days pass and the leather uppers and soles of his brogues begin to spread apart, his toenails searching for the darkness of the soil.

Weeks go by and the woman returns to find a full canopy of foliage sprouting from his sap-slick hair.

‘This is an improvement, but you are not ready,’ she says, before leaving.


An Arboreal Proposal

Black Tie Man — his black tie now submerged under trailing ivy — groans the groan of a tree aging in the Autumn, feels the burden of his leaves, the weight of his unrequited love.

It is Winter.

The woman returns and inspects his leaf fall, scrutinises the scars on his bark. Passing no comment, she settles underneath the tree in a dress the colour of a healthy human heart — romance pulsating through its woven lifeline strands — and awaits the advent of Spring. Spring, when it arrives, brings a nest of magpies, and within that nest: an untied black tie; a confetti of once silk pocket square; and a battered gold ring missing its stone. A ring that will fall into the lap of the woman in the red dress settled underneath the tree. A ring that she will wear on the hand that caresses the trunk of the tree - the tree that now embraces all the seasons of love.