The Boys' Oak
It was not quit tall enough for Collin to stand up in but it was round and large so they could lay within and gaze up at the rocky ceiling or out the entrance to their guardian, the oak. The first Saturday, as it later became known, was the momentous start to many long days spent within the cave dreaming and eating Charles’s mum’s cake and cheese. Some weekends Collin would bring his mother’s tea or a canister of juice he’d pilfered from the fridge and the two boys would sit at the entrance under the great oak and eat and tell stories of what they believed to have happened around the mystery cave over the last thousand years.
As the afternoon sun sank and the warm light dappled into the cave through the old oak the boys began to make out the lines of old paintings on the ceiling above them. They depicted knights with high helmets and swords nearly as big as them riding on horseback as they chased after giant winged lizards that cold only be dragons of the old times.
“You know in those times a dragon could take out a whole village and the only people who could help were knights from Author’s round table.” Collin said as he gazed longingly at the paintings.
Charles rolled over onto his arm and looked at Collin, a big smile on his face. “My dad has a sword we could barrow.”
Collin smiled and clapped his hands. It was too good to be true. “I’ll go find it and you can defend the castle!” Charles ran off to the house and Collin stayed, still and unblinking so nothing could get passed him.
The wind blew warm through the cave entrance and Collin wondered if it was the breath of a beast waiting just outside the safety of the oak to eat him up. The thought gave him a feeling of dread but Collin knew he would stay strong and guard the cave entrance till his end.
Fast footsteps approached and Collin held out his oak-wood stick as his sword and prepared himself to fight a battle. But it was in fact only Charles coming back with a brownish looking blade with a thick handle and a nick at the tip.
“What’s that?” Collin asked?
“It’s the sword” Charles responded, now looking a bit disappointed that his friend was not more impressed.
“It doesn’t look much like a knight’s sword.” Collin replied.
“Well of course it wouldn’t, it’s so old and everything. We just need to clean it and then we can keep it here, where it belongs.”
Collin nodded, the plan made sense and so he helped Charles dig a little earth out of the corner of the cave so they could stand the tall sword up straight. It looked good in their cave and the fading light made the place feel like a dark fort that no enemy could penetrate.
The next day Charles’ mum gave him a hand towel and some soap without too many questions and they escaped to their cave and spent all morning cleaning the knight’s sword.
The world of the cave and the accent oak grew bigger while the boys fought dragons as they whooshed toward the knights, sometimes in pairs. Their fiery breath burring the tips of knights’ helmets, but they fought on until all were slain or chased far from the cave. Collin would jump out from the cave and see if they were truly gone and Charles would hide in the tree to stab them in the soft belly should the beasts return.
In November Charles finely came back home for a time. The cave had not moved but the oak was now much barer than before and the cold wind nipped at the boys as they ran toward their cave. Once inside the air was warm and sweet with earth and dried leaves. Charles sighed deeply at being home again and getting to lay down, his legs splashed out side to side, in this place of magic. Collin pointed and Charles looked, following his finger to the ceiling. The old as time paints were still scattered over their head. The sword stood proudly in the corner, just waiting to slay a damsel eating dragoon.
Collin and Charles laid on the ground, imaging battles until they drifted off to sleep as the afternoon light dappled across their happy faces.