She tells him she’s worried that the juniper tree won’t survive the move, because the truth is she’s worried that she won’t survive the move – okay, okay, that’s a little melodramatic, but she’s worried she won’t be happy after they move – and it seems easier to project her feelings onto a small tree than to be honest about her emotions.
The juniper tree – and some complimentary mansplaining – were part of her 40th birthday gift. ‘Look at the berries,’ she’d said, fingering the branches delicately, ‘they’re beautiful.’
‘Well actually,’ he’d replied. ‘Technically they’re not berries. They’re cones.’
‘Well, actually,’ was also how he’d broached the topic of them moving. It would be great to be in the city, he’d said, not just because it would be so much easier for him to get to work, but because they’d have a better quality of life, wouldn’t they? Perhaps she could even take up tennis?
Initially, she hates it. Even living a five minute walk from Waitrose doesn’t make up for losing her beautiful garden. The juniper tree sits, sadly, in a large plastic tub of soil, and waits for her to replant it. She can’t be bothered. She can’t be bothered to do anything.
Until one day, a man pops round. Just a neighbour, being friendly perhaps, but when they shake hands, she notices that he is slow to let go of her hand, that his touch lingers. She notices his broad chest, his golden tan.
Perhaps she won’t just survive here. Perhaps she will thrive here. She won’t even need to take up tennis.