Written in response to inspiration provided by Leigh (see inspiration in comment below):
You’re running the net through the water, picking up the last of the surface leaves, your knee numb where the early morning cold of the pavers pushes through the worn material of your tracksuit. You scoop the final few and knock them into the bucket beside you. You hold the net up, and the sun refracts through the random drops of water that have managed to cling between spaces in the netting. The effect is like a wafting remnant of a crystal catacomb, the last wan ghosts clinging to the mortality they don’t realise they’ve given up already.
You stand up, screw the pole onto the netting and shake those few ghosts away. You plunge the net deep into the water and start herding the leaves from the tiles on the bottom of the pool.
The tinkle-scrape of metal on metal alerts you to an intrusion and you turn around to see a business suited arm reaching over to unlock the gate. It swings open and the real estate lady walks through. You don’t know her name.
“Hello Julie,” she says.
“Hi,” you mumble, turning away from her.
You hear the efficient clicking of her high heels moving over the pavers as she walks towards the house. You sneak a look at her long legs, smoothly flowing out from beneath her miniskirt. You imagine how you must look to her. Your legs aren’t too bad either, but they’re hidden beneath your work trackies. You return to scooping leaves.
You finish and carry the bucket of leaves over to the lemon tree where you tip it out over a patch of newly turned soil. The ground seems to shudder with pleasure beneath the twisted golem of a tree.
She is behind you. Now that you know that she is there you can smell her perfume. It is strong, applied liberally. It is pungent in its excessiveness and it makes you like her a little less, which in turn gives you the courage to turn around. You look into her grey eyes.
“Have you seen Mr. Albanese?”
“Could he be at the hospital?”
“He didn’t like the hospital.” You pause and then add, ‘Cause of all the visits for his wife.”
“When did she die?”
“Six months ago? Something like that.”
“Okay.” It’s her turn to pause. “Well Mr. Albanese said he’d be here this morning.”
You pat the pile of disturbed soil. “Can’t help you.”
The real estate lady looks at the patch of garden. “That’s a lovely lemon tree.”
“Yes,” you reply, “It is.”
“I hope the new owners keep it.”
“Why wouldn’t they?”
“This’ll be sold as a development block.” She walks away.
You look from her, to the tree.
Then back to her.