Fiction — September 25, 2012 12:55 — 1 Comment

The Popcorn Tree – Noel Hoffman

“Oh, it is wonderful!” she said.

“And this is the foyer with vaulted ceilings and stone tile.  It is a dramatic entrance, right?” said the realtor with the smooth legs.

“Oh, it certainly is.  A chandelier, too!  Look, honey,” she said.

“Yes and that chandelier is unique to this home.  No other home in this development has that chandelier in the foyer,” said the realtor pointing firmly yet with femininity by not raising her shoulder and curving the wrist.

“How will I ever clean the thing, honey!”

He smiled in to her eyes, which were pretty.

“And here off to your left is this space that is typically used as a home office or library and the elegant space to your right is predominately labeled for the dining room.  Come in and let’s have a look,” the realtor with the smooth legs said.

“Oh, wait, I’m sorry.  Now the stone won’t stain, will it?  I want it white, always,” she said.

“Oh, no dear, and you have the same stone in the kitchen and the downstairs’ bath.  Now, the carpet in the family room, the dining room and here in your extra room to the left here, you’ll have to be a little more careful with spills!” she opened her eyes just wider with the ‘spills’ and raised slightly on her toes to take her stiletto off the stone.

“Okay, okay, great.  Okay, I want to see the kitchen!” she was elated.

“Follow me here through formal dining room, the kitchen attaches to the space,” and her smooth legs walked away.

“Ahh,” she inhaled and he remembered having heard that noise from her a long time ago in the room with the fan in La Ceiba when he felt the sand and sheets on his legs.  They had gotten so much sand in that bed.

“So, it’s all top of the line.  Stainless steel appliances throughout, your stone tile that you love so much and that always heavily desired granite for the countertops throughout,” said the realtor with the legs tanned on the sand.

“I like the range,” he said and he reddened because he heard his voice too loud and it was too late in the house for him to speak for the first time.  They both turned to him.

“Aw, honey.  You like the range?” she ran her nails down the inside of his arm.

“I do, sure,” he said.

“Well, it is a good thing to like.  It is the top of the line in range tops.  We’ve found that it makes things an awful lot more convenient around the kitchen with the range on the island.  Frees you up a little, gives you more room when you’re entertaining,” the realtor said while running her manicured nails in a delicate arc lightly over the stone and then drumming them lightly and quickly and wonderfully at the end of the arc.

He stepped over to the range and turned the knob and the blue flame appeared and he knelt down level to the flame and watched the blue flame and where it came up to the air and became orange at the edge and liquefied the air.

“I like the realness of having an actual flame, I don’t know.  It’s raw and powerful and so much like water, but it isn’t water.  I don’t know.  I like it,” he felt silly and they didn’t say anything and she walked by and rubbed his back up and down once and he stood up and faced them both.

“Well, how about we check out the master?” the realtor with her legs asked and this time she rocked back on the stiletto and the toes came up from the stone slightly.

“Now, keep in mind as we come through the family room here, that this is a very neutral color palette.  But, you can always change wall colors, carpet patterns, your drapes and other things and really make the place your own” the realtor said and he watched and followed the small indentations left in the carpet from her heels.

“I don’t know, I really like the brightness of it.  I don’t think we’d change a thing,” she said as she stopped her march and looked around, nodding.

“Oh, the natural light in this space is marvelous.  You’ll notice the glass French doors and the large windows on the back wall there and you’ve got two really nice skylights up above.  Just flooded with natural light,” the realtor said while touched by the light.

“So, down the hall here we have the guest bath, really cute and well done.  Oh, it’s a full bath, too, which is really convenient.  Again, same tile and counter,” the realtor with the smooth legs said.

“Oh yeah, really cute.  The carpet in the family room and the hall here, how hard is it to keep clean?” she asked.

“Well, these days, it really isn’t too tough at all to keep maintained.  This carpet here is the highest quality carpet on the market today and it has been pretreated with a stain protection product already.  Oh, it has a great warranty that comes with it and we even offer a carpet steam cleaning service that cleans the all the carpets every six months,” the realtor said.

“Oh, honey, we’ll have to sign up for the steam cleaning,” she said.

“And here we are at the master.  It lays out well so that you could go dressing table here, wardrobe here on this wall, television possibly above, a reading or sitting area there in the far corner and then, of course, his and her nightstands and your nice comfy bed,” the realtor with the smooth legs said and he thought of the word ‘bed’.

“Oh, I see it.  It lays out perfectly for just what you said,” she said.

“Oh, but you are just going to die when I show you what’s next,” the realtor with her legs in the very space of their bed told her.

“Enormous walk in closet here, all cedar, custom built just for this home.  I would be impressed if you could fill it up!  And as we walk through, gorgeous bathroom with the stone tile, same granite here as in the kitchen and a giant tub with a view out to the backyard.  Your yard is fenced high, so don’t worry!” the realtor said and he realized the power of the sound of her heel hitting the stone and felt the softness of the carpet under his feet in the closet and she squeezed his arm tightly with both of her arms and she was silent but vibrating and he pumped his fist and saw the veins in his hand engorge and felt the blood scream.

“Well, I think we’ve seen what we’ve needed to see.  I mean, we’ve done all of our research, I think.  And really, the price is fair and we can do it, I think.  Let’s get back to your office and sign what we need to sign.  We’ll take it,” he said and she screamed.


“Honey, I want our first night in our new home to be perfect!” she skipped over to him and wriggled between his legs and kissed him.  He was sitting on the granite counter top in their new kitchen.

“Sure, honey.  We should have a nice meal.  Anything that you want,” he said and her eyes were pretty.

“Why anything that I want?  What about anything that you want!” she smiled and touched his nose.

“Well, I mean, I know that you’ve been dying to use the new range.  I mean, it’s a great range,” he said and put his chin near his shoulder and looked down at the range.

“You can get out one of your new cookbooks and find something nice for us to have.  I can run to the grocery store in town, you know that nice one with all the good produce and seafood, and pick up whatever you need and we can make it together,” he said and looked back to her.

“Nope!” she said and touched his nose again.

“Nope?  Okay, do you want to go out?” he asked.

“On our first night in our new home?  No way silly!  I want to make something for you!  Your choice, anything at all!  Okay, what was the best thing you ever ate?” she asked and kissed him and had both hands on his thighs.  She was on her toes and her eyes were pretty.

“Well, I had coq au vin in a small place in Lyon when I spent a couple weeks there in college.  I think that must’ve been the best thing I’ve ever eaten,” he said.

“What is coq au vin?” she asked.

“Well, it’s basically a chicken, or really a rooster I mean, cooked for a long time in wine and some other things like onion and bacon and herbs,” he said.

“A rooster?” she asked and her chin went downwards and her head went away from his.

“Well, I mean we would just use a chicken,” he explained.

“I don’t know.  I mean, chicken is kind of boring, right?  I mean, this is our very first night in our new home!  We’ve got to do steak, right?” she asked and she was biting her lip and pumping his knees side to side and back and forth with her hands tight and nails just in his flesh, but not painful, and he was straining in his stomach and his hamstrings because he was going to stay in that imagined arc drawn weeks before by the pretty nails of the realtor with the smooth legs.

“No, sure, honey.  I think you’re right.  I mean, let’s do steaks.  I’ll get them at that nice grocery store in town,” he said and he stepped down from the counter.

“Oh, you could get shrimp there too and we could do surf and turf!” she said.

“Oh yeah.  Okay.  Good idea.  Surf and Turf,” he said.

“Do you remember when we ate seafood for a whole week on our honeymoon? “ she asked.

“You had whole pompano for ten straight days right there on the sand,“ he said.

“We were so crazy then“ and her eyes were pretty.

“We were,“ he said.

“I think we need stuff for a salad, too.  They’ve got such good produce there,” she said.

“Sure.  They really do.  Okay, two steaks, shrimp, salad and I’ll get some wine too, I’ll see you in a bit,” he said.

“Okay.  Love you, honey,” she said.


“Isn’t it so funny that we live on Red Oak Lane in Golden Oak Park?” she asked, putting down her wine glass.

“Yeah, it is funny,” he said.

“I mean when you went to the nice grocery store before dinner, you had to get to the highway and out of Golden Oak Park, right?” she asked.  “And you had to drive down Red Oak Lane, Silver Oak Road and Live Oak Lane.  I mean, live isn’t a color, but all these oaks!” she said.

“I know, it’s pretty funny,” he said.

“And then coming back into Golden Oak Park, you were on Live, then Silver and then Red Oak streets or lanes or whatever again.  It’s crazy!” she said.

“I know it is crazy,” he said.

“Nobody else notices these things.  Oh, the school system here is supposed to be incredible,” she said.

“I know, the school’s are really good,” he said.


“I really love our tree in the backyard.  It’s such a pretty tree,” she said as she was looking out of the master bedroom window in her nightgown with her hair down and the moonlight coming down through the window.

“It’s Chinese,” he said from the bed and he really thought that she did look pretty in her nightgown with her hair down.

“What are you talking about, honey?  Chinese?  Come look at our tree with me!” she said and turned to him and her eyes really were pretty.

“It’s a Popcorn Tree.  It’s from China.”

“What do you mean it’s from China?  The neighbors have one just like it. I can see it over the fence from here.  I see ones just like it all over,” she said quickly.

“It’s invasive,” he said calmly.

“Invasive?  What are you talking about?” she said and her nose wrinkled and her eyes weren’t big for a moment.

“It isn’t supposed to be here,” he said and he knew it.

“Well, I love our little Chinese tree.  I think our little Chinese tree is just perfect,” she smiled and her eyes really were pretty.


Noel C. Hoffman is a Canadian raised in Alabama. He holds a B.A. from Auburn University and an M.B.A. from the University of New Orleans. He would like to grow viognier outside of Austin one day. He is previously unpublished.

One Comment

  1. Alison & Michael SCANLAN says:

    Well done Noel. We enjoyed the read.

    Alison & Michael Scanlan ex King Bay residents

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The answer isn't poetry, but rather language

- Richard Kenney