A Good Turn

Mrs. Kimura always gave us all kinds of goodies over the years.  She would make them herself, all year round.  A month did not go by where she did not bring over a plate of some flavor of mochi, or some kind of cake or bread or cookies.

My favorite was her mango bread.  She asked us one time if we would mind her coming into our yard to pick a few of our Haden mangos.  We welcomed her.

That was the first time she gave us her mango bread.  My mouth waters just thinking about that moist, not too sweet bread, warmed up, with butter melting through it and down the sides.  The smell was incredible, like the Haden blossoms infused with a touch of cinnamon and drop of honey.

In order to encourage her production, we allowed our mango tree to grow toward her house.  It grew in such a way that eventually she could just walk out to on the second floor landing, just outside her kitchen, and reach over the railing to pick the fruit.

Needless to say, this increased, during mango season, her delivery of that delicious bread to our house, and she had access to so much fruit finally, that she would freeze it and then make the bread throughout the year.

We were in heaven.

The City & County rule regarding trimming of your neighbor’s trees is very clear.  If your neighbor’s trees hang over your property line, you are allowed to cut them back to the property line, but you may not cut them back any further than that.

One day I came home to find that our mango tree had been cut back all the way to the trunk on the side facing Mrs. Kimura’s house.

I thought this odd, and had I not adored her so much, I would have been very angry that Mrs. Kimura would come into our yard to hack back our tree so severely.  It just didn’t make sense to me anyway, that after all these years she would do this.

I went up the street and down the driveway to her house, climbed the stairs to the front door and rang the bell.

As far as I knew, Mrs. Kimura lived alone, so I was surprised when a middle-aged man opened the door.

“Hi,” I said, “I live across there,” I pointed at the house, “and I was wondering about the tree trimming today.  By any chance, did Mrs. Kimura do that?”

He was a cocky guy.  “Yeah,” he said, “I did that.  We didn’t like that your tree was invading our house.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, “are you related to Mrs. Kimura?”

“Yeah, that’s right, I am.  I’m her son.  What about it?”

I was struck a bit speechless both by this man’s demeanor, and by the fact that he so blatantly admitted to cutting back my tree.

I stared at him for a while, trying to control my temper, and then said, “You know that you can cut a tree back to your property line, but you cannot cut it further.  That’s the law. What you did here, was come into our yard to cut it all the way back to the trunk.  You aren’t allowed to do that.”

He scoffed.  “Oh yeah?  Well, what’re you going to do about it?  Sue me?”

Geez. I thought about this.  The situation was out of hand.  We needed something to cool the whole thing down.

“Is Mrs. Kimura at home?” I asked.

Quite surprisingly, the man began to cry.  I watched him do this for a minute or so.  Finally he stopped, wiped his eyes with his hand, then said, “My mom died two weeks ago.  I came over because she didn’t answer my calls for several days.  I found her in bed.  She must have passed away in her sleep.”

He began to cry again.

“Oh, no, I’m so terribly sorry to hear this,” I said. I thought about all the mochi, and cake, and cookies, and especially the mango bread.  “Is there anything I can do?”  

“Thank you, no, we’ve got everything under control.”

“Okay, good.  But, well, I’m sorry, but I’m still wondering about my tree.  Why did you do that?”

He looked me in the eye.  “My mom always talked about how you didn’t trim the tree, just kept letting it grow and grow onto our property.”

This struck me as very strange.  I’d naturally assumed that she loved the tree.  That she loved easy access to the fruit so she could make her heavenly bread.

“But,” I said, “why didn’t she just ask me to trim it?  And you know, technically, she could have trimmed it, had it trimmed, back to the property line,” I reiterated emphatically, “any time she wanted to.”

“Hey, she was too nice to do that,” he said.  “She didn’t want to offend or upset you.  She just kept hoping you would be the one to trim it.”

“Well,” I said, “While I’m not going to sue you, I am upset and offended that you went too far in your trim job.  Please don’t ever do that again.”

“Okay, just keep it trimmed.”

He didn’t seem to get the idea.

I said with some heat, “Oh yeah, don’t you worry about it. I promise you I’ll do that.”

We parted hardly friends.  He lives there now, and I have let the mango tree grow back right to the property line.  I watch it religiously, make sure it doesn’t grow onto his property. I want never to give him the provocation for butchering my tree again.

So unlike his mother. That day we spoke about the trim job was the last time we ever spoke. If he were ever going to do me any slightest kind of a good turn, I think he did it by turning away as he closed the front door.

* * * * *

Today’s writing prompt is


Use it to inspire a piece of writing, and then post that piece as a comment below. I would love to read it : )

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