Story: Holly Tree
By: Niles Reddick
After two cups of coffee, I went outside, opened the garage, plugged in my electric saw, and lugged the ladder to the Holly tree next to the house. In the three years we’d lived there, the tree has pushed on past the gutters and roof and was no longer shaped like a triangle. I was determined to cut it back and trim the tree into a manicured Christmas tree shape.
I cleared the mulch, so the ladder wouldn’t wobble. I climbed, turned on the saw, stuck it through the prickly leaves, and began to saw. When the top came off, I tossed it into the yard and began to saw smaller limbs to completely top off the Holly. Once off, I tossed them into a growing pile.
I noticed a wasp zig-zagging around and hoped there weren’t more, but once I cut another section, I saw the swarm and could feel the pain in my left underarm, teetered back and off the ladder, and landed on my feet, saw still running. I released my grip, dropped the saw on the ground, snatched my shirt off, ran through the yard waving my shirt and screaming “Son of a bitch” several times. I hadn’t gone shirtless outside in at least twenty years and hadn’t moved that quickly either. Neighbors walking their dogs picked up their pace and one neighbor darted to his garage.
The pain and swelling from three stings lasted the rest of the day. My daughter said the Holly tree was shaped like the wine glass I drank from all evening. I just hoped none of neighbors had a surveillance camera. I’m not sure when I will get back to the Holly tree.