Mischievous Clem

Clem was the flower shop’s resident clementine tree. Kate’s grandmother had gotten her as a little sapling, and over the years she had grown to be quite the conversation piece in the shop.

When Kate’s grandmother died, she had left her beloved and bustling flower shop in her very capable, and eager hands. Her last words however weren’t really words, as much as they were a smirk, when she told Kate to have fun with Clem’s “attitude”. She also handed her a business card for a “tree tamer” which Kate just assumed was a fun synonym for arborist.

Clem was the flower shop’s resident clementine tree. Kate’s grandmother had gotten her as a little sapling, and over the years she had grown to be quite the conversation piece in the shop. Customers would come in looking for a flower arrangement, but would often leave with a sense of wonder over Clem’s luscious green leaves and the beautiful (and delicious) clementines she grew. Kate and her grandmother knew fully that while their flower arrangements were beautiful, Clem was the real draw of the flower shop. Their bustling business wouldn’t be what it was without her. What, her grandmother meant by her comments about Clem’s attitude, Kate had no clue.

The first time a customer approached Kate to tell her that Clem threw a clementine at them, she just laughed. But when the customer held the clementine up, next to a size-matched red mark on her arm, it was clear the customer was not amused. Kate however, was able to convince her that she had likely just gotten in the way when a ripe clementine was falling. Kate apologized, offered her a small arrangement of her choice as an apology, and that was that. However, the next time a customer also accused Clem of throwing a clementine at them, Kate wasn’t so sure it was coincidence.   She stood in front of Clem who to her, was still the same beautiful clementine tree that she had always been. The idea of her throwing her fruit at customers was ridiculous.

It was ridiculous until she saw it for herself. Until she saw Clem pluck one of her clementines, wind up one of her branches, and throw it at an unsuspecting customer. And then it happened again when one of the flower shop regulars, and one of Clem’s biggest admirers, reached out to pick a clementine as she always had. Clem retreated, plucked the clementine herself and tossed it at the customer who was so caught off guard, she stumbled backwards right onto her bottom. Clem was throwing clementines at multiple customers a day, and if Kate didn’t know better, she would think that the rustling of her leaves afterwards meant she was laughing.

The tree tamer wasn’t at all surprised when Kate called him. He told her that he had worked with Clem for years, taming her to stop the exact behaviour that Kate was now describing; tossing clementines at customers. When he came to the shop, he stood in front of Clem, who cheekily threw a clementine at him, waving her leaves around in defiance.

The tree tamer explained that Clem was acting out, likely because nobody was enforcing her good behaviour. With Clementine trees, he said, if they reverted back to previous bad behaviour, it was often difficult to train them again. The best solution, which would be best for everyone involved, was to redirect this behaviour.

Kate was shocked. How was she supposed to redirect the behaviour of a mischievous  clementine tree who was throwing clementines at her customers? The customers who so obviously were coming in to see Clem herself! She had a business to run! The tree tamer told her to remain calm and assured her he’d dealt with trees like Clem before.

The next day, he brought in another small clementine tree named Tina. Tina wasn’t a sapling, but not yet as big as Clem. Tina came in a lovely orange pot that matched her beautiful orange clementines. When the two trees saw each other, their leaves quivered in unison. Kate didn’t know how to interpret this behaviour now, but trusted the tree tamer knew what he was doing. She couldn’t after all, deal with two fruit trees throwing their fruit at her customers. What she didn’t expect however, was having to deal with with two fruit trees throwing fruit at each other.

This became a daily occurrence, the trees sneakily tossing fruit at each other, their leaves shaking and quivering as they snickered in their own tree-like ways. In the days and weeks that passed, Kate soon understood what the tree tamer meant by redirecting the bad behaviour. Clem was no longer throwing her clementines at customers. Instead, she was throwing them at her new friend Tina, who playfully reciprocated the behaviour. It was clear this behaviour wasn’t going to stop now. So, one morning when she opened the flower shop, she wrote out a sign and placed it in front of her fruit trees.

It read:

FLYING CLEMENTINES. KEEP YOUR DISTANCE.

 

Image Credit: Wipada/Adobe Stock

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Kathryn Kazoleas

Kathryn is a Canadian author. She has written the middle grade chapter books Dog Park and Dog Daycare, and has many more books swirling around in her imagination just waiting to be written. She lives with her dog Koa and her cat Keeva who work as her copy editors and expert distractors.

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