Every few days we drive out to my folks place and check on the oak trees. And FINALLY the big day happens! The buds, which had been swollen, start to pop out of their winter coats. I hear the first sleepy voices of my story tree and its little sibling! They greet me and say they're just waking up and all. I'm so happy I could shout it to the hills! I jump up and down with joy!
Susan looks at me kinda funny-like. Feeling sorta sheepish--here I am, a GROWN man acting like a boy still wet behind the ears--I stop jumping. Oh boy, now I'm blown it! Now she's gonna ridicule me!
But instead, she speaks, "Charlie, I really DO think these trees said hi!"
"Wh-what else'd they say?" I stammer, my heart beating sixty miles and hour.
"They're just waking up, so don't expect any brilliant conversation--!" She suddenly cuts herself off. And STARES at me! And then at the trees. "Oh, Charlie! You really wrote what REALLY happened, in that story--didn't you? Really?" She grabs my arm.
"YES! Oh Susan, you don't know how HAPPY I am that you can actually HEAR the trees!" I grab her and pick her up and squeeze her tight and swing her around! Her hat flies off and she squeals. So I set her down carefully.
"Charlie," she huffs as she gets her breath back, "then these really ARE story trees--and there's really such things as story trees?"
"Yes, yes, YES!" All the tension that's been building up inside me from all my worrying about whether Susan's the right girl for me, just bursts away as I laugh wildly and fling my hat in the air and chase it!
She chases right along after me. I catch my hat and she bangs into me. Grabbing her, I plant a big, big kiss on her lips--until we both have to come up for air. "Oh, Susan, will you MARRY me?"
"YES, you--big lummox----" she gasps, "--if you'll--lemme--catch my breath!"
After another, more sensible embrace, we giggle and happily holding hands, we go in to break the good news to my folks!
After all the family excitement and the dinner and all, it's dark, so we drive home. "Susan, tomorrow we'll go back and see if the trees are awake enough for a little more conversation and maybe even a story or two!"
Now, you'll hafta humor an old man's memories. The ole noggin just doesn't work as good as it usta. You see, some of these events I wrote down right after they happened, like keeping a diary. But sometimes I didn't. So I'm sitting here, trying to fill in the gaps, so's you can understand better.
Well, let's see--hum. Yes, that's it! You don't know that Mom and Dad are gone--pretty many years now. Susan and I, we moved into their place afterwards and finished raising our three kids there. The kids can hear and speak to story trees and the wee folks, all three of 'em. That made me awful proud, it did. I feel I've fulfilled my duty to the trees--sorta made up in a small way for all the hurts to the trees that my race has inflicted on 'em.
All the while we were married, me and Susan, we kept on recording and writing up all the stories Gram's big white oak tree rold us. These tales grew into volume after volume of stories--some of it the history of the region before the whites came, and afterwards, too. Some were just plain stories that the Native Americans told as teaching stories for their kids. Some just stories the whites told, too. And finally, the kinda stories the little folk told.
We separated all these stories into these categories. The history stuff we tried to put in what we thought was pretty close to chronological order. A lotta the stories from the little folks we got published--it's called fantasy fiction. But it's not fantasy to the little folks, of course.
We also published some of the Native American stories the tree told us. We even had some shamans from some of the tribes that used to live around here contact us and discuss these stories! They wondered where we'd got some of them. I just told THEM the truth--and felt so good when they actually believed me! 'Course none of these tribes live around here any more, as the government made 'em up and move away.
My kids, they wanted to plant more of Gram's story tree's acorns, so of course we did that. And now my place--the one that usta belong to my folks--it has a whole grove of young white oak story trees. My original tree's pretty big now.
Some of our neighbors wanted some white oaks at their places, too, when they saw how good my first tree looked after it got big enough to notice. So we gave 'em some of Gram's tree's acorns. And now those young trees are doing pretty good. Now there are a few story tree links between Gram's tree and my trees, so none of the story trees feel lonely now, like my first tree did!
'Member Tom and Mary, those two kids who moved into Gram's house after she passed on? Yeah, well those two kids got the traveling bug in them, so they went lotsa places round the country. They took more acorns with them, planted some, and gave some to others to plant! And they collected stories from other story trees they met, and sent them all back to Susan and me. We'd write 'em up and stick 'em in the proper volumes. And then we'd read these new stories to our own story trees. I'm sure they passed on these stories to the rest of the story trees in this area.
When Tom's and Mary's folks got old, they moved to the city. Sp Susan and I turned our place over to our kids and we moved over to Gram's place. One of our kids, Teddy, actually found a girl who could hear the story trees, so they got married and continued to live in our place. So now all my grandchildren from Teddy and 'Lizbath can hear the trees, too. So we all just hope that one of 'em will want to live there when they grow up. After I'm gone, it'd sure be nice if another grandchild wants to live here in Gram's place.
The Story Trees
1 ~ 2 ~ 3 ~ 4 ~ 5 ~ 6 ~ 7
8 ~ 9 ~ 10 ~ 11 ~ 12 ~ 13
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