Oak and Birch Faye shifted position, trying not to knot in their anxiety. The agent rustled with his customary enthusiasm which was beginning to grate on Oak.
‘Well? It’d pretty special, don’t you think? All the expected conveniences,’ he lifted a bunch of his twigs and bent them as he counted, ‘plenty of species varieties, considerate avian neighbours, a fully comprehensive insect cleaning function, appropriate foliage coverage to ensure privacy…’
Oak stopped him. ‘But is it safe?’
The agent stretched and swayed with the smug certainty of an ancient oak. ‘That’s the beauty. This wood has just been added to their,’ his voice took on a sneery tone as he said “their” ‘list of protected ancient woodland. Each of these beautiful Arboreal Residences…’
Birch giggled. ‘Do you mean these trees?’
The agent lifted his boughs, showing his disdain, ‘perlease these are any old bits of timber you know. These have been nurtured over decades waiting for this opportunity to offer our Sprite clients the sort of homely environment with the necessary certainty that only comes with appropriate long term preservation. And we at the Copse Consortium understand community. We know how sensitive each Sprite family wants… no, needs to know some tendentious timber terrorist…’
The agent gave a little shudder setting of a rather unsettling susurration, ‘We try to avoid such references. With the TPO* in place, you can be assured that no human is going to so much as prune let alone lop your living space.’
He rubbed his fronds so hard, Birch worried he might involuntarily immolate. She took a precautionary step back.
His bark cracked in what passed amongst the treeians for a smile and asked, ‘Did you look at the brochure I sent? Do you have a preference?’
Birch glanced at her partner and said, ‘I’ve always fancied a Beech House, those endless views from the verandah kind of thing?’
‘Of course, and you sir?’
Oak scowled. ‘I don’t mind so long as the neighbours…’
The agent stop him with a swift swish. ‘I quite understand, sir. Wood sprites?’
‘Exactly.’ Oak bristled. ‘Of course, normally one is very tolerant of others. Grass sprites in groups can be a little…’
‘Exactly. And while Rock Sprites grind a little too much for this Tree Sprite,” he effected a little laugh, ‘I’ve shared space with Wood Sprites…’ He shuddered and looked at his partner, ‘you remember that copse when we were students? Constant creaking and groaning. They’re never still.’
Birch nodded. ‘And when the sap rises…?’
The agent’s colour drained, a sort of early autumning amongst his stamens. ‘I can assure you we have a comprehensive code here. There will be rules on sap-sipping, bark rippling…’
‘Is that even a thing?’
The agent held the young sprite’s gaze. ‘Believe me miss, you don’t want your fellow residents engaging in live bark rippling. It’s like listening to a plaster being ripped off an elephant’s arse…’ He adjusted his canopy which had begun to droop. ‘Shall we go and have a look? That way.’
He pointed the couple at a path through the bluebells and let them go ahead. ‘Bloody Sprites,’ he thought to himself. ‘Always moaning about other Sprites. Still,’ he waved at a colleague who was working on the southern flank, and currently appeared to be twisting as if in a 100 year gale, ‘at least they’re not imps.’ He stopped and stared in horror before calling after the Fayes. ‘Sorry, I won’t be a moment. Don’t wait for me. I just need to help my colleague.’ He began to run as he added under his breath. ‘I think he’s being pollarded.’
*TPO – a tree preservation order, a statutory protection of trees under the Planning Acts that criminalises anyone who cuts or damages a tree for whatever reason without the permission of the relevant authority.
This is week’s response to the #writephoto prompt