Oh, Christmas Tree by Ellie Reed
The girls are not the last to arrive at the farm, but they’re certainly cutting it close. It’s after dark on December 23rd, and I have to admit I was starting to worry that it wouldn’t happen for me this year. That’s been the case before, of course. It happens to all of us. Ask yourself: have you ever seen a completely cleaned out Christmas Tree Farm? You haven’t, have you? There’s always at least a few trees left. The skinny ones, the mangy ones, the ones with the already browning needles that are holding on by a thread, desperate to fall and settle as soon as the tree gets a good shake.
The girls’ sparkling brown eyes look us all up and down — they’re taking this seriously; I like that — and finally they settle in front of me, counting out their cash with hushed voices and mittened hands. Where are their parents? I wondered. I’ve never been picked out by children alone before. How are they going to get me home? I would guess the taller one is old enough to drive, but I’m not sure how much I’d actually bet on it. Boy, do I hope she can, though. I’ve been on a bus before and I did not enjoy it.
“Excuse me, sir?” The taller one signals for Joe, who stomps over, perpetually and fruitlessly shaking snow off of his boots. “How much is this one?”
Joe looks at me, looks at the girls. Don’t take them for a ride, Joe, I think. They’re just kids. “Sixty-five,” he says firmly. Huh. Not a great price, but not as bad as I expected, considering I’m one of the last left. I wonder what’s wrong with me.
“We’ve only got sixty,” the shorter one says. She stares up at him, matching his steely gaze with one of her own. The taller one looks away, clearly not one for haggling. Joe smiles at the little firecracker; she’s charmed him with one look. “That’ll do,” he says. “You need help tying it to the car?”
I wish Joe had ridden with us, as the process of putting me onto the car was far smoother than the process of taking me off.
“Just — LEAH, LISTEN TO ME! You’re going to drop — LEAH!”
“I don’t see why pushing it off is a bad idea! It’ll be easier! WELL, THEN YOU’LL HAVE TO EXPLAIN IT TO ME, ABBY!”
“Did you scratch the paint on the car?! Oh my god! Dad’s gonna fucking kill me!”
“I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN WHEN YOU SAY LIFT WITH YOUR LEGS! I’M TRYING!”
While the sisters struggled to get me inside, I distracted myself from the yelling and the bumping and the prodding by admiring the beautiful decorations outside the neighbors’ houses. Lights that twinkled, lights that were timed, lights that were far too neon for my taste and lights that flickered as softly as candles. There wasn’t anything adorning Leah and Abby’s house, but all evidence did point to the fact that they were doing their decorating late this year.
Find the rest of Ellie Reed’s whimsical take on holiday drama in Sheriff Nottingham 12: Festivus, available December 23rd!