“Five Trees” by B F Jones

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The neighbours aggravated him a couple of years ago, implying he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the box. He had put barbed wire on top of his chicken wire fence to prevent wildlife from getting into his garden and they had mocked him. Completely unacceptable.

So he’s been getting his revenge, in installments, one sporadic act of vandalism at a time.

This month, the trees are taking it.

There are five small trees at the front of their house, screening it from the road.

He takes the first one down on a Friday evening. The house is empty, he’s seen the neighbours walk out with another couple, all dolled up.

He waits till night falls and then, under the light of the full moon, starts sawing, excitement spreading through his limbs, pumping him up to all extremities, including the tip of his very small penis. An erected man, dealing with an erected tree. Hard wood and hard wood. Oh yeah. It takes under 3 minutes to saw it, snap it and ditch it into the ravine across the road.

He rushes back home and tears off his Y fronts. He’s feeling so tough; Marcia is about to get it real nice. She might not be in the mood but hey ho, who’s the boss.

She’s not looking her best under this pale moonlight and he doesn’t care for her chin, or absence there off, or the slight oniony smell coming out with each of her sleepy exhalations.

He flips her over. Much better.

He comes back for the second tree a few days later, much later in the night, after having made sure the neighbours are asleep. He’s looking forward to the noise of the saw as it bites into the wood, the poking of his penis against his trousers, and doing Marcia again. 


Saw, snap, ditch, boink.

The third tree doesn’t provide as much excitement as the first two, mainly mild irritation to have to wake up in the middle of the night again, and painful arms from dragging the tree across the road. And Marcia is away for a few days. She hasn’t bothered calling to say what her plan was and he hasn’t checked on her. Not his job. He wanks thinking of anyone but her and goes to bed.


He decides to come back for the fourth tree the following night as he’s seen the neighbours taking pictures and hovering over their front lawn. They might be onto him so he needs to act quick and finish the job before they have time to do anything else.

When he gets to the fourth tree, it’s already gone. Neatly chopped at the base, just like he’s been operating. A thick cloak of confusion wraps around him. What is happening? This is in no way fun. He walks across the road and inspects the ditch. The fourth tree is there, nestled with the others in their open grave. He comes back home aghast. Did he take this tree down already? Is there a copycat in the neighbourhood? He wishes he could ask Marcia but she hasn’t come home yet and still hasn’t called. Bitch.

Better stay put for a week, looks like someone might be onto him. So he goes back to his writing of complain letters to various industries and hassling other neighbours, wishing he hadn’t punched Marcia the other day, wondering when she’d come back. She always did.

The Perkins have been watching their trees disappear with a mix of startlement and fascination. Retrospectively, they wish they hadn’t taken the fourth tree down. Though they enjoyed the idiot’s sheer confusion, they do regret the delay in his return. They wish he would come back already to find the note pinned to the fifth tree, reading: “We have your wife, replace the trees if you want to see her again.”


They’ve been stuck with the unpleasant lady wailing in the cellar for a couple of weeks now and that extra mouth to feed and that piss pot to empty have been nothing but a burden.

B F Jones lives in Surrey with her husband, 3 children, and cat. She has stories in (or soon in) STORGY magazine, The Cabinet of Heed, Soft Cartel, and Spelk Fiction.

 

“Remember, You’ve Got Tenure” by B F Jones

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“I quit!” she says barging into my office, unannounced.

I recoil, for her appearance will never cease to surprise me. We’ve been working together forever but I can’t get used to how emaciated she is, her black dress clinging in all the wrong places.

I’m used to those outbursts. Every now and then she has a crisis of conscience and decides that she wants a change of career.

I blow one last smoke ring, put my cigarette down and lean forward, chin on hand, feigning an interest.

“What’s up? Did anything happen?”

“Yes something happened! The same shit as usual happened! There was a malfunction on a school bus. There were 57 kids on it for fuck’s sake! Fifty. Seven.” She leans across the desk, bony finger outstretched and face too close for comfort, and I draw back. I don’t like her face. I don’t like the way she points that finger at me.

“That’s just too much. I can’t take it, I quit.” And she pounds the desk so hard, her dress slips off her skeletal shoulder.

“OK. OK. I feel your pain. Let me think of a solution. Because quitting would be a shame. Remember, you’ve got tenure. And you’re pretty damn good. And it’s not like you’re qualified to do anything else. You’re probably tired, I get it, you’ve been working endlessly, and it’s repetitive and sometimes gruesome. How about I give you the afternoon off? I know it isn’t much but you’re kind of indispensable.”

She paces a bit, thinking, rearranging her cloak.

“OK. But a complete half day. No last-minute emergencies. I’ll be off this afternoon. The world will keep on turning. The world might actually feel grateful for it.”

And she grabs her scythe and walks out, slamming the door.

 

B F Jones is French and lives in the UK with her husband, 3 children, and cat. She works as a digital marketing consultant and moonlights as an aspiring writer. She has flash fiction published in The Cabinet of Heed, Spelk Fiction, Storgy, Idle Ink, Train Lit Mag and Bending Genres. 

“Roasted Turnips” by B F Jones

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The feud started months ago. 

Neighbourly pettiness, all too common. The aggravation of those that didn’t choose to share a fence, and things thrown over it.

Couple against couple. Both draped in their own righteousness. 

But one couple doesn’t want to carry on. So they bow out; “It’s not worth it,” they decide. 

 

But the ceasefire doesn’t stop the war and from the other side of the fence the offensives carry on. 

“Pathetic,” they mutter, while they sweep the broken flowerpots off the ground, piece together their shredded mail. And they shrug their shoulders and move on. 

 

But at night she’s wide awake, the desire of revenge nibbling her dreams, pecking away at her mind. 

 

That evening she sits on the sofa, clutching the small box in her hands. “Don’t,” he says. But it’s useless. 

She slips out at dusk, and he lets her.

 

The allotment where the wife grows her prize-winning vegetables is just down the road. Why grow turnips when you already look like one? The small dishevelled shadow giggles into the darkness.

A spark and the smell of sulphur crowds her nostrils. 

The small hiccupping flame grows.

 

Soon the entire neighbourhood bustles and scrambles while sirens fill the night. What has happened? Where is it coming from? But it’s promptly all over, only the acrid smell of roasted turnips a fading testimonial of the incident.

 

She shoves the box back in the kitchen drawer and sits on the sofa. He can hear her knuckles cracking.

“Nobody saw me.” 

 

That night her dreams are stolen from her once again. 

The next morning there is a knock on the door. Is it them?

“Don’t open it.” In her eyes, sleeplessness and fear. 

Let’s not open the door. Not now. Not ever. 

 

 

B F Jones lives in Surrey with her husband, 3 children, and cat. She has stories in (or soon in) STORGY magazine, The Cabinet of Heed and Spelk Fiction.