There are rows and rows of them. Not the small selection he anticipated. How many types of hedging shrubs could there be? Flowering, fruiting, low growth, high growth.
“There are five types of privet, Scully.”
“Species, Mulder. There are more than 50 in the genus, Ligustrum. But some are considered invasive.”
He followed with the trolley as she walked past and on to the brighter coloured plants further away. “What about that one?”
“Knockout roses? Too high-maintenance.”
He inhaled as they walked on, trolley remaining empty.
“Hydrangeas? Too showy.”
“This?” He pointed to a purple flowering plant.
“Lilac? They’re bad luck, Mulder.”
“Ooh, Scully. Are you getting all superstitious on me?”
She rolled her eyes and stopped at a row of spectacular upright hedges in autumn colours. One called to him instantly, with its flat oval leaves an olive green, edged with a brighter lime and turning a spectacular dark red at the top. He looked at Scully. Her pant suit was dark olive, her sweater was bright lime and her hair was a darker shade of red in the low afternoon light.
“This is compact, hardy, tolerant and they look pretty good, too.”
He turned over a label on the nearest plant. “Low-maintenance, high impact. Perfect,” he said.
“We’ll need a dozen or more for that fenceline. You load up and I’ll go look at the trees.”
The wonky wheel on the trolley caught at every rotation. Mulder struggled to steer it and the retail assistant suggested he pay for the plants and put them in the trailer then come back if there was anything else his wife found.
“Oh, she’s not my…okay, sounds like a plan.”
The tree section was on the other side of the nursery and the sun was sliding behind looming dark clouds. Winter afternoons ended rapidly and he shoved his hands in his pockets as the first drops of icy rain fell.
Evergreen, shade, fruiting, flowering, privacy…what trees was Scully looking at? He wandered an aisle of maples that turned into willows and birches and then became dogwoods and myrtles.
Cedar, cypress, holly
The wind whipped up, blowing a pair of spindly spruces over and he was forced to leap over them as they fell. He turned to right them and saw a flash of movement at the end of the row. He started back up the aisle and turned right. Nothing. Left. Nothing.
Rain hammered into him and he hunched over against the wet, ploughing through to the fruiting trees. Apples, pears, cherries. Who cared? His hair plastered to his face and cold rivulets of water ran into his eyes. He opened them briefly and thought he saw a glimpse of red hair flailing wildly.
“Sculllaaaay!” He launched towards the end of the fruits and turned into the privacy trees. Giant laurels and cypress and junipers towering between him and his quarry. Wind thundered between the rows puffing out his jacket. “Sculllaaaayyy!”
“Mulder?” The voice was reedy, carried away on the next blast.
“Scully. Stay there. I’m coming!”
She was there. Arms folded, hair wild. “Mulder? What’s up?”
Catching his breath, he placed his hands on her shoulders. “I…I couldn’t find you. I lost you.”
“I told you I was looking at the trees.” She smiled, pulled a wet strand of hair away from her cheek and took one of his hands from her shoulder, to slide into his body. “You’re a drama queen, sometimes, Mulder. Do you know that?”
“All we need is flashlights and helicopters and we’d be right back to the good old days.”
He pulled her tight to his side. “There were some good times, weren’t there?”
“You always found me.” Her fingers slid into the waistband of his jeans. “I always found you.”
“Magnets, Scully. We’re magnets.”
“And this our magnetic moment? At the end of a row of privacy trees in a rainstorm at a nursery?”
“Romance isn’t dead.” He pulled her towards the parking lot.
“Did you know that the strength of a magnetic field is, at any given point, proportional to the magnitude of its magnetic moment?”
“We’ve always been pretty powerful together, Scully.”
Wind shrieked as they half-walked, half-ran. “Also, when the magnet is put into a magnetic field, produced by a different source, it becomes subject to a torque that directs the magnetic moment parallel to the field. The amount of torque is proportional both to the magnetic moment and the external field.”
“So, we are literally compelled to turn into each other?”
He opened the door for her and she slid in. “Something like that.”
Inside, he wiped his face dry, watched her as she patted her hair and strapped herself in, then leaned in for a kiss.
“What was that for?”
He kissed her again.
“Mulder? We’re in the car…”
“Stop… we can do this…Mulder….Mu…”
When he’d had his fill, he grinned at her. “You torque too much, Scully. But I can’t resist you.”
His reward was a slap on the thigh and a wicked grin of magnetic proportions. The car was pulled home on some invisible force and the plants stayed in the trailer until the next day.