The sun doesn't shine through my window at this hour: it illuminates the houses on the opposite side of the street. Red bricks take on a warm glow in the evening light. My house casts a shadow that doesn't quite reach the other side.
Occasionally a car passes, but birds are more numerous. Blackbirds, one after the other, over the fence and away. A jackdaw preens and shifts its feet on a chimney-pot. Starlings sit in ones and twos on telephone wires. A purple leaved shrub, in the gravelled drive leading to number 6, is motionless. The tops of oaks, three roads distant, dark against the sky.
Sitting at my desk beside the window I’ve often been aware of a vague sense of dissatisfaction, or perhaps a lingering regret, without being able to pin down the reason for it. Then one day I realised.
There is no tree, no whole tree - roots and trunk and branches – within the world framed by my window, and I miss the tree that isn't there. I miss it every time I look up from my desk. I missed it even when I didn't know what I was missing. I miss it as much as if I'd seen it torn out, chopped up, loaded into a yellow skip and hauled away before my very eyes.
I don’t talk about it, of course. People would think it was odd to miss a tree that was never there.
Around the corner from the bus-stop comes a man of around 50, neatly dressed in shades of grey. He walks up the driveway of number 8. At the front door he puts down his briefcase, dips in his raincoat pocket for his key, unlocks the door, and disappears inside. I wonder what it is he misses that was never there.
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