The oak

Category A: Highly Commended (2020) Monash Short Story Writing Competition

Author: Daniela Castillo

Title: The oak


As the swift cool breeze rustled the leaves of the large oak tree, the summer air blew in my face as I sat at its stump. Ever since I was young, the tree had been a place of relaxation, peace and had grown to be a tree that I cherished very much. As its branches reached over my small white house and its roots touched the banks of my large lake, I came to realise how much time I spent here. Surrounded by its drooping leaves, all my worries diminished into the cool air and the world outside came to a standstill. At night the dark sky would fall on top of me and the stars would shine brightly like glitter on a black canvas. 

I felt like I could reach out and grab the moon, hold it in my small cold hand and ponder at it. Bushes of raspberries surrounded the lake and in summer I would pick them and sell them at local markets. In the long reeds at the edge of the lake there were green frogs and in spring ducklings would hide in them. The sunsets in summer were stunning and soft reds and pinks while in winter they were pastel shades of purple, lilac and blue. Small fish and tadpoles swam happily in the lake, little black cormorants and rails would float on the surface of the water while making ripples through the crystal-clear water. 

After dinner we sat underneath the large oak tree drinking hot chocolate and eating Danish shortbread cookies on a chilly winters evening. I was there with my mother, father and sister watching the bright sun go down west and seeing as stars started to appear against the dark sky. A shooting star passed and I whispered to my sister “Quickly make a wish,” I watched as she closed her eyes and softy said “I wish all my wishes would come true,” I stared joyfully at her and she giggled back at me. She wrapped her arms around my waist, and I picked her up. My legs were crossed, and I placed her in the middle on my lap.

Munching on a shortbread cookie, my sister turned around and took a large bite out of it. I gave her a look that said ‘seriously,’ then I rolled my eyes at her and laughed, she gave me a cheeky smirk back. It was these nights that made me smile ear to ear and really take in the moment of joy and happiness. Where I turned aware of how lucky I really was to be loved and in a healthy family with people who appreciated me for who I was and not for what I wore or acted like. They will always be there for me.