I was 16 and she was the best that ever was or ever would be. I knew it the first time I saw her walking down the side of the road, and I stopped, inexhorably pulled to her by destiny.
We met there on that road, but she was staying under that tree. It was high summer, and I could barely feel the heat. She had me enraptured and I had done the same to her. The smiles she gave me were the realest smiles of my entire life, and when she reached for my hand the universe was between my fingers.
In only a week, I knew, I knew. And she did.
Those were days before we could speak with electrons and radio beams. We wrote letters. Such letters she wrote to me. Eloquent beyond her years, her perfect and beautiful script making each page a work of art and of love.
Soon, she returned to the place under the tree, and then it was the dog days. There were never better dog days than those. We floated everywhere. Our eyes saw nothing but each other. I can still remember that face like it was only a few minutes ago...
And at night, with moonlight spilling through her hair, the moments branded themselves in me one at a time never to go away. I can recite the script by memory as if I were reading it aloud.
Then she left again, and this time it would be 15 weeks apart. I stood under that oak tree, and we both felt that she had left. I took a walk that afternoon in a garden of statues, a beautiful place, but there was something about that tree. It had been there long before Europeans had ever walked here, and it had watched us, and it knew.
A few weeks later I got the letter. She couldn't wait. It was over. I went to the tree and cried. Then I went out in the early winter's cold and threw my heart away for years. Maybe the tree knew that would happen too.
Like a scar on a tree trunk, I healed, but it was always there. I kept all the letters, a lock of hair, a piece of scrap cardboard she had doodled her married name on that would never be. And the pictures she mailed back to me afterward. Sometimes I would pull them out and look at them. And in my mind I would be back under that huge oak tree, feeling it's comfort.
One day a huge storm came. It brought the ocean all the way to the tree. The tree had never fought the ocean before. Everything around it was succombing, even the blades of grass were being uprooted. Other trees were losing their tops and breaking into pieces. But the oak tree held, didn't fall over, didn't lose branches, and was steadfast.
I have visited the tree since, and it will far outlast me. It has seen many more stories, with many happier than mine. But it doesn't know the end of mine, when hands reached out again many years later, and simple joy and friendship the result. Or maybe it did know, maybe it knew that the real things last forever.
Yeah, I think it knew that. Old oaks have, after all, huge hearts.
Harliquin "Vesti La Giubba"Heathen's Harliquin
- 11 years, 2 days ago