The Tree (a work in progress)

James poured the boiling water into the mug with the picture of a gorilla and squeezed the teabag with the back of a small spoon. Dark clouds swirled and spread from the bag throughout the steaming water, permeating it. He stared at this progression without thought. He stirred and then let go of the spoon, reaching for the handle of the fridge. The doorbell rang, a single chime. The noise dragged him from the routine. He paused, working out where he was and where the noise came from. It took a second. His shoulder brushed a painting on the wall of the narrow hallway as he walked to the font door. A floorboard groaned as he leaned forward to look through the window. The door creaked.

"Yes? Can I help you?"

James tried to sound irritated. He succeeded. There stood in front of him a small group of people of varying ages. They looked indignant. The foremost of them, a young lady in torn jeans, a hooded sweatshirt and one of those neon yellow cycle waistcoats, seemed to be the leader.

The waistcoat irked James.

It was 1030 on a sunny Saturday morning.

She cleared her throat and fixed her eyes to his. He held his breath. She was striking. Her face was sharp, hawk-like, offset by large, ghostly blue eyes and framed by cropped raven black hair.

"We're here about the tree."