The Oak Leaf
A Short Story – Fiction
Written by -M. Taggart
The Oak Leaf
The wind rushing through campus was strongest near the library. A pure wind tunnel powered by an unseen bottleneck. The October air was just turning crisp and the sun was out making the leaves look brilliant and full of life just before dropping for the winter season.
The UMASS campus was packed with energy as students walked to and from classes ranging from one end of campus to the other. Some students took buses, if the timing worked. Others chose to walk even if it made them a few minutes late. Besides an ugly look from a professor, what would it really matter. Nick wanted to write. He wanted to not go to class at all, but instead to drive through Sunderland and park under Mount Sugarloaf in South Deerfield, and walk up the steep trail with the views overlooking the Connecticut River, the Sunderland church steeple, and the UMASS campus. He wanted to write about students walking to class near the wind tunnel while sitting hundreds of feet above it all. He wanted to remember what the wind felt like on his face and do the best he could to write it as if he were still there with everyone.
Nick turned and started walking to his car. Class will be there in two more days, like it always is. Maybe then he’ll want to sit and listen and learn and not want to sit on the mountain and write. Hemingway was in his hand. The Sun Also Rises. He’d read it in High School and again after on his own. And now again in his literature course. He felt as though he not only knew the book well, but that he was somehow attached to the writing. It lived somewhere in him now and he liked knowing that to be true even if he couldn’t explain it. Nick walked quickly, nervous he might lose the feeling to write before he was able to. Then again, he thought, even if he did lose the feeling to write he’d need only to read a few pages of the book and it would come flooding back. It was always that way when he read Hemingway. As though Hemingway’s sentence structure soothed him into a different state of mind where everything flows properly when thinking about even a simple thing. Such as a leaf falling from an oak and taken by the wind to a place it had never been until it finally lands.
“Nick! Hey, you’re going the wrong way.”
Nick lost all train of thought. Her smile took everything.
“It’s this way to class and I want you to sit next to me. And if you go that way, you can’t sit next to me.”
Nick sat next to Emma in an auditorium filled with four-hundred students. Their professor was shifting papers getting ready to start the lecture centered on The Sun Also Rises.
Some fifty feet above the grassy landing on top of Mount Sugarloaf waited a leaf on the branch of an oak tree. The leaf was securely fastened and not yet ready to drop. Soon though, it would be. Soon the tree would need resources to be used differently within its shell of life and the leaf would become more brittle, and less full of vibrant colors, yet ready to experience somewhere it had never been.
Unless someone wants more. In that case it’ll be not the end.
Please, check out some of my published work:
And feel free to contact me: