oak-tree1A shudder of pleasure ran through the oak as the girl settled herself at its base. She pulled out her notebook of sheet music and unpacked her guitar.

As she tuned the strings, the oak basked in the warm sun of an early spring day. Mossy and gnarled, it had stood on the hillock for three centuries. Its roots threaded deep through the red clay soil, holding the bank in place when the nearby brook swelled from the winter rains. Mistletoe hung from its boughs, but the tree had supported the interloper long enough that it had become an old friend.

Its life was written in every fiber of its being—droughts, floods, seasons both wet and dry—all contained in concentric rings, dark and light. All its wisdom was held there, even as it provided a haven for oblivious arguing squirrels and scrub jays. It had seen uncounted fledglings take their first flights even as it delved deep into the earth. Roots grasping, water pumping–the slow exhale of air for the creatures who ran hither and yon, in and out of its ken.

Slow thoughts were usually more comfortable, moving at the speed of life-giving sap, but it was worth the extra effort to hear the music the girl played. A quick dance of notes, like sunlight shimmering from a ripple in the stream, and gone just as fast.

The girl was stuck on a phrase in her song today. Her words bade a friend a fond farewell, and she worked one line over and over again, determined to get it right. The tree approved. Every creature should shine while it could. Even the grasses and poppies bloomed and seeded themselves before they withered and died.

The whine and rumble of an engine briefly disturbed the girl’s song, but she began again, and the tree basked in the melody as it might in the sun’s rays. It was a beautiful piece, the best she’d ever played, and the tree sunk the cadence of the words deep into itself. This song should be kept with the rest of its life, deep in its inner core.

A trail of ants stretched over a protruding root, the tiny black insects carrying morsels back to their dens. Worms slithered between rootlets, as if in a giant maze, never losing their way or their purpose. A hummingbird paused, glimmering in iridescent beauty, before zipping off to a nearby clump of blue-trumpeted larkspur.

The oak stretched its awareness to each twig and rootlet, feeling the heartbeat of every living thing in its reach, reveling in the moment that connected them all together. This was true wisdom, this above all should be saved.

The girl packed away her guitar and pressed her cheek against the tree’s rough bark in silent farewell. Only a few minutes later her place was taken by two men with a chainsaw.

The tree lifted its awareness in a silent prayer that its wisdom could be somehow saved. Then it shuddered in pain as the metal teeth bit deep into its trunk.


To the Victor final cover 12-18, 4 inches highIf you enjoyed “Oak,” you can pick up a copy, along with thirteen other stories, here:


Happy reading! : )

Avid writer and reader of Faerie tales and noblebright fantasy.

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Posted in My Stories
36 comments on “Oak
  1. Jennie says:

    Beautiful, bittersweet, sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely beautiful prose.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely! 🙂 Very sad and poignant, and it works on so many levels! Beautiful language and imagery, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. willowdot21 says:

    Oh! This is so sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Not too quietly, I hope–I enjoy your blog. If anyone here hasn’t gone yet, you’re missing some stellar stuff–I enjoy the poetry in particular. It’s here: https://willowdot21.wordpress.com/.


  6. Ann Coleman says:

    Beautiful! It has always bothered me to watch a tree being taken down….

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A beautifully told tale…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. E. E. Rawls says:

    It breaks my heart when old trees are taken down.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is a beautifully written story, rich with imagery and emotion. I felt what the tree was experiencing. The ending just grabbed me in the gut – and it happens in real life all too often.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lovely Cathleen. Poignant and wonderfully written. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks so much, Sharon and Diana. Richer imagery is something I’ve been working hard to achieve. 🙂


  12. This is the best of your best, Cathleen. The tree is alive and I hear the birds and insects. Even though the tune isn’t named, I hear a soft strum. Fabulous. ❤ 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. BTW, like the additions to your banner. Congratulations. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Beautifully written. I’ve always loved the idea that plants have some form of consciousness or wisdom.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Annika Perry says:

    Wow! Cathleen, I did not see that end coming at all…brilliant! I was carried away by the tender personification of the grand oak tree, the girl with the guitar. So many beautiful descriptions I was enthralled and then the shocking introduction metal teeth of the chainsaw. Well done, a thoroughly enjoyable and very well written story.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. MG WELLS says:

    Lovely story. Thanks for sharing and enjoy the journey!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I liked how the tree felt about the girl. Almost as if it was a motherly-like figure – giving the girl shelter, encouragement, and reassurance.

    Liked by 1 person

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