He had called some numbers from the local paper. Three different men turned up, similarly dressed, to look at the tree stump. One was honest enough to say he didn't want the job, the other two called back with prices that John couldn't consider paying. Next he tried the plant rental place in town for a digger, but they wanted a deposit and waivers and all sorts. So instead he kicked the padlock off the lean-to, found a spade and a handsaw and oiled the rust off them. He started digging on Sunday, after church. It was almost spring and the ground was soft. He dug out in front of the house until his daughter called him in for dinner.
It was just the two of them now, a widower and a divorcee, the grandkids at college or at their father's. She was a counsellor at the school and there was a manfriend, a teacher. John didn't like him. She turned off the television while they ate. Pork fillet. She was a good cook.
It was an old beech and the trunk had split in a storm ten years ago. He watched the news while his food went down, talked to Sarah about work. He put his boots back on and went on digging until it got dark. He had promised his wife a summer house here, somewhere to sit with a book and watch the sun set. Nine years gone now, she was. She had always loved to read.