The Woman in the Wedding Cake Tree – Martha Higgins

Janice is astounded as a woman perches precariously on the top tier of the wedding cake tree in her back garden. The woman stores her books, clothes and high heels on the two bottom tiers in neat bundles. Her long dark hair falls onto the white blossoms and her silky blood red dress drapes over the tree. Janice peeps from a corner of the kitchen window as the woman picks some blossoms nonchalantly and throws them on the ground. Janice’s eyes widen, she loves that tree, she and Adam bought it together after their honeymoon on a July day when joyfulness seemed so easy.

The woman puts blossoms in her mouth savouring them slowly. Janice creeps around the walls of rooms peeping out the windows hoping the woman doesn’t see her daily wanderings where she touches or picks up all the things she and Adam bought together. The house smells differently since he left, that slightly spicy man smell is gone with him and Janice’s body is drooping with terror and grief.

In the evenings the woman in the tree wears silky soft grey pyjamas, her toenails are painted red and she stretches out precariously on a branch and arches her feet salaciously.

Janice tearfully calls Adam.

Jan, you need to pull yourself together, what the hell are you talking about? Look, we each have our own lives to live now. You know we agreed all this. You need to stop getting ridiculous ideas.

Janice listens miserably, wondering how she got to be an annoying stranger to him.

Look, I need to go, Mia and I are going out to dinner, just do you best, ok?

Janice’s voice wobbles with unformed sobs.

I’m afraid of that woman in the tree.

Oh for God’s sake, stop being so bloody crazy Jan, nobody could put up with you.

Janice drops the phone and falls to her knees clutching her stomach as her body feels like it is breaking apart in the middle. She sobs until the singing from the garden catches her attention. She creeps to the window and sees the woman back again and singing softly to herself. She sees Janice and holds up a sign; “SLIDE SHOW AT 7PM”

Curiosity pushes Janice to sit at a corner of the kitchen window before 7pm. The woman sways slightly as she kneels on a branch holding a group of large cards. She smiles kindly at Janice for the first time as she slowly holds up one card and then another.

1. Adam and Mia in a sunbeam, looking lovingly at each other

2. Adam and Mia’s tangled limbs in Adam’s car

3. A new house with a chandelier in every room

4. The Eiffel Tower looms over Adam and Mia on a Bateaux Mouches on the river Seine

5. At a party, Adam is drinking copiously and telling jokes, Mia sits there uncomfortable and irrelevant

6. Adam stands under a chandelier berating Mia and then storms out of the house in disgust

7. Adam arrives home with flowers

8. Adam is choosing clothes for Mia to wear

9. Mia sits crying at the kitchen table and Adam tells her she must learn lessons for her own good

10. Mia sits alone in the kitchen at midnight, Adam hasn’t come home

Janice slides to the floor and sits staring at the kitchen wall, at some stage she pulls a cushion off a kitchen chair and lays her head on it on the floor. She wakes cold and achy; robotically she gets up to look out the window. The blossoms strewn on the ground are the only signs of the recent occupation of the tree.

Slowly she begins to pack up all Adam’s things that he carelessly left behind. She then cleans the house, wiping down all the surfaces carefully. In the evening she puts a large green bin bag with Adam’s things on the front doorstep and ties it tightly. Then she sits at the kitchen table and speaks softly.

It’s ok, Janice, it’s ok.


The Cabinet Of Heed Issue 35 Contents Link

Image via Pixabay

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