by Stephen Book
Though embattled with age — its autumn leaves blown away, its gnarled coat threadbare and frayed with a thousand empty branches — the Oak stands in the backyard like a seasoned and faithful companion. In 1968, Dad planted it the month I was born, marking time even though the tree was already seven years old. During the summer of 1977, my best pal Charlie and I, along with a half dozen of our friends, ran from my dad toward the tree, screaming as we found safety at the "base." 1978 came, and Dad built a fort upon the branches of the tree; and then we climbed inside, with only our sleeping bags and a couple of Daisy pellet guns, to see the world as Davy Crockett might have seen it, gritting our teeth as Santa Anna unleashed his brutal force upon the never-say-die men of the Alamo. Four years later, I discovered that Dad had seen me and Sandy Kirshman (something I thought was my own little secret) when I found the place in the trunk where he carved: JD & SK, First Kiss, 1984. Dad is gone now; but at least I still have the old tree, and with it all that remains.
Stephen Book is a CPA, working in corporate America while carving out any time he can to build a writing career. He currently lives in Texas.