Sunday, November 14, 2004

the century oak

last christmas we were in california w/ lisa's parents and one day by the pool i wrote this short story.

Century Oak

Mark rode down the road on his bike. He squinted his dark eyes as he rode, fast and faster down the hill and then up again. He was on his way to Mary’s house. They were going he climb the Century Oak. Te Century Oak was an oak tree planted by the families who founded their town. It was the oldest living thing alive.

Mark rolled up to Mary’s. Opened the gate to her fence and ran up the walk to her door. On the way he stopped to get a flower for her. He put the flower behind his back and strode across the porch.

Knock, knock, knock

Mary opened the door; she was wearing overalls, boots and a white t-shirt. She had dark eyes like Mark and was tall and slender. She opened the door. Mark gave her flowers and Mary gave mark a hug. They were the best friends in the world. They raced down the walk through the gate and onto their bikes.

It was two miles from Mary’s to the century oak. They rode together past Mary’s family’s farm. Then they rode across the new wooden bridge and across the old stone bridge. Finally they rode up the last rise before the rolled into town to the tree.

They knew the tree was old and climbed it often, always wondering what this tree had seen during its long life. The lowest branches were just over Mark’s head. Being the tallest he jumped and climbed on the first branch. Then he reached down and pulled Mary up. Limb after limb and branch after branch they climbed higher and higher. They were a few yards short of the op when the branches became too weak to hold them. So her they stopped each on a branch looking out over their world. They could see their whole town. Looking west they saw the road they had rode on. The church was to their right. Its white steeple was easy to see. Next they saw the general store. Then the courthouse, its golden dome shone brightly in the late afternoon sun, the other side of the road went east out of town. They saw the hotel, stables, mechanic, gas station, the bank, and finally the post office. It was a complete circle with the Century Oak and them in the middle. As they watched the Road they saw horses, cars, bikes and buggies coming and going. They looked further out to the west and saw the old stone bridge, the new wooden bridge and the windy creek that flows under them to the Great River, Mary’ farm and beyond that Mark’s farm. Turning around and following the Road again they could see the Mill and the Power House out in the Great River.

Mark and Mary loved this view, their world all around them. They talked about the people they could see and made up stories about the strangers. Mark reached in his pack and pulled out some biscuits for them. Mary had lemonade in a bottle. They ate and drank up in the Tree as the sun began to set and the winds began to blow. Mary felt the wind blow thru her short red hair. She looked over at Mark as it moved his long black hair.

Before it was too dark they climbed back down as the fireflies came out. Branch by branch and limb-by-limb they made their way down to their bikes.

Evening was deepening as they pedaled hard to beat the sunset. With the fireflies out it was as if they were riding past stars. Over the old stone bridge and the new wooden bridge rolling up to Mary’s house. Mary thanked Mark for a great day and gave him a hug and went inside.

Mark climbed back on his bike and made his way home. The sun had set and Mark rode by moon and star light all the way home. While he was still a way off he could see his porch light and could smell the diner his family was cooking.

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