This is an oak's story. That is, a story of an oak that is not too old. Of an oak that, nevertheless, had time to see things you might not have seen yet. Listen, my friend:

O nce upon a time there was a kingdom by the sea. It was a forest kingdom and one could not tell if it was a breeze in the green sunny woods, the opal transparency of the sea, or a simple hospitality of it's inhabitants' souls, that made it as beautiful as it was. Those that traveled, compared it sometimes to Lothlorien (you should visit it once), but I find it unwise to compare earthly places to unearthly beauty. Books from those times (as well as we that remain) confirm that it was certainly a strange place to live in. Many languages were spoken there, many deities worshipped, many customs practiced. Though, as through some wizardry, animals understood each other and lived more or less fulfilled lives together. They enjoyed undertaking long journeys through the forest, as well as exploring neighborhood kingdoms. It was often as travelers returned, that they reported of places much worse, as well as of those much more pleasant to live in. Asked for the reason of their return, however, they were hardly able to give an answer. It was often just that warm feeling of peace and satisfaction one has by returning home. This was, you know, the forest of my childhood.

As the king ― an old lion ― died, many felt as if a certain part of their life had come to an end. They feared it had been a good part. He was, namely, a beloved king, however strange that may sound for a lion. By many he was seen as a gifted being, able to provide each one in the forest with an opportunity to search for and find it's own happiness in life. However, he was a lion and his word had to be respected ― there was never any doubt about that. As it is often the case with dying lions, there were also those who regarded him a tyrant ruling by force. They were probably happy, though too uncomfortable to show this outright in the forest overwhelmed with tears coming from the very hearts.

Many springs passed from that one in which the king had died. Young lions disputed over the throne. No one of them was strong and wise enough, though each of them needed power as we need water. So, they needed enemies, while ― if one wants power over the others, and wants it fast, one should make up the enemies and pronounce himself the savior. Our friends were pronounced our enemies. We were pronounced enemies to our friends. Old trees could be heard speaking of things already seen. Of the shadows of the past rising again. Of things unspeakable that have happened. Of fear and death that once ruled. Neighbors were not the same neighbors anymore. Friends not the same friends. Everyone spoke what was supposed to be spoken. That what should be heard. It was only then that I understood the tales of the past. It was said, that is how it started once, in another kingdom, long before my leaves felt the sun for the first time. Never before could I understand how it could have happened. Now I was frightened to see how easily it can happen again and again. A single tree cannot stop the coming tide, while it is too weak. And it fears. Beware my friend! Beware of fog. It comes from nowhere and appears everywhere. Hard to notice in the beginning, gloomy in the end. The world looks different in the sun. The darkness is darker in the fog. The fear more fearsome. And a forest in fear is deadly.

"Those that are not with us are against us" ― these words I had to listen to. I had to choose sides. And no side was good enough for me. I had friends all over the kingdom. You do not always need to know your friends personally, you know. Thoughts may travel with the wind if you know how to send them. Though, there was no more wind in the fog. But I knew they were still there. Those I regarded as friends. And then, it was not because of them. I wanted to stay upright under the stars. And one day, as I fall, not to have too many regrets. I could decide, but I had no strength to move. My roots were deep and wide. And I was in fear, too. If it were not her, my good fairy, I would still be there, in the kingdom that was no kingdom of my childhood anymore. Though, she gave me the power to move.

In these clear starry nights, my friend, stop for a moment. Do you still remember what were you afraid of when you were six? What are you afraid of now? Look carefully in front of you. Be sure of your path. Do not ask much for paths of others. If you are sure of your path, then follow it. Today is the best day to start.

My roots I had to leave far away. The sun I feel now is the old one, though I feel it differently. My forest kingdom by the sea lives in my dreams. Am I happy? Then, what is happiness anyway?

In these clear nights I gaze, silently, towards the stars.

Borut Maričić
Leoben, Austria
November/December, 1995


Author's note

This story has most certainly been influenced by the following great authors:
J.R.R.Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings; E.A.Poe: Annabell Lee; Nikita Mikhalkov: Anna: Ot shesti do vosemnadtsati (Movie, 1993); Walt Whitman: When I Heard the Learned Astronomer; Grigor Vitez: Kad bi drveće hodalo; A.Lassen: Heute ist mein bester Tag; Krsto Papić: Izbavitelj (Movie, 1976).

(c) Copyright 2003 by Borut Maričić
(c) Copyright 1996 on public performances: BDR ― Blue Danube Radio, Vienna, Austria
Created: 1996-09-17 Modified: 2003-07-01