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The Oak
by Roxanna Glass

One solitary oak tree -- surrounded by hundreds of nearly-barren pines -- stands near the shower shack at Woodlands Institute. What a strange sight it is! What a strange feeling to be under that oak, looking up into thousands of green leaves, when, almost anywhere else in this forest, one would see only needles and barren limbs.

The tall pines hover above the shorter oak, trying to shut out all light, attempting to cut out the good substances that make it grow. They come frighteningly close to the tree, and one pine even has the courage and audacity to lean on it, trying to push it to the ground. The little oak, however, continues to grow, and becomes stronger because of the opposition placed around it.

Admiration emits from some of the pines who hide behind the facade of pride in the oak's perseverance, but deep down inside, they are jealous. They plot to cut the oak to the quick, hoping to make it as barren as they are.

The oak will not succumb to the persecution. It continues its upward and outward climb, encompassing all things around it. It is a landmark in the dark woodlands, so that if one becomes lost, he can know how to get home if he can find the oak.

Over the days and weeks, the pines succeed in breaking three or four branches off the oak. The pines reach dangerously close to the trunk of the oak, and threaten to cut it off from the good, to make it weaken and die. The oak, however, replaces broken limbs with stronger ones, eventually supporting the pines that lean on it, so that if a few limbs happen to break, the pines will lose their support and fall to the ground.

The oak will never succumb.

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