Picnic Under the Big Ol' Oak Tree

by Raymond Towers © 2001

Little Emily shuddered at the sudden breeze that interrupted her placement of the green and white checkered tablecloth. Impatiently, the little girl pouted, using her small hands to hold down the nearest corners of the cloth, while her elbows anchored the hem of her fluttering blue dress. As soon as the wind subsided, Emily carefully dragged the tablecloth a few inches nearer to the large oak tree, hoping the tree's bulk would help lessen the ferocity of any further wind. Tenderly, the girl straightened out the corners and brushed away the loose dirt that had mischieviously bounced onto the cloth. She glanced up at the immensity of the big oak, briefly scrutinizing its gnarled and leafless branches and its thick and knotted trunk, which might have frightened off other children her age, then deliberated the chances that the wind would ruin her picnic.

"You know, its not supposed to be windy today." She said, directing her voice towards the opposite end of the tablecloth, where her invisible play-friend sat. "Least, thats what momma told me in the morning."

Emily reached into the small basket beside her, and from its innards produced two sets of plastic utensils and a pair of paper plates, which she neatly organized to either side of the basket. "You can choose either the apple juice of the grape juice." Emily said, holding both small containers up for perusal. After a long moment, she placed the grape across from her, and kept the other drink for herself.

Off in the distance Emily could hear the voices of some boys approaching, which brought a frown to her little face. Se became completely still, hoping they wouldn't come close enough to discover her sitting there, under the shade of the big ol' oak tree. She didn't want anything to interrupt the picnic her and her new friend were having. After a few tense moments, she felt comfortable enough to continue and reached inside the basket to proudly produce two paper wrapped sandwiches. "Here is one for you, and one for me." Emily announced. "They're both nutter butter and smelly jelly. I made them both myself." A handful of seconds passed, where the wind threatened to pick up again, but in the end, thankfully, it died down.

"Okay, okay!" Emily admitted, grinning. "I had a little help from momma. How'd you know I didn't make them myself?"

Another pause.

"Well, I hope you like your sandwich anyway."

At this, two boys, just a couple of years older than Emily, rounded the edge of the big oak. Both of them were her classmates, and from Emily's resultant grimace at recognizing the two, it was obvious that they weren't very welcome.

"Who you talkin' to, Emily?" The first boy, Tommy, asked.

"You know how weird she is." His buddy Robert commented. "She's probably talking to the stupid tree."

When no answer came forth, Tommy became more insistent. "Well? What are you doing out here, all by yourself?"

"I'm having a picnic, if you have to know." Emily replied.

"How come you've got two places set?" Tommy pressed. "Ain't nobody out her but you."

"I think she's expectin' her boyfriend." Robert giggled.

"That right?" Tommy asked. "Your boyfriend coming way out here?"

"I don't want to talk to you." Emily snapped, pouting again. "Just go away"

"What if we don't want to?" Robert taunted. "What are you going to do about it?"

"Hey, let us have a sandwich." Tommy conceded, observing the enticing edibles. "Then we'll go, alright?"

"These are not for you." Emily shook her head. "They're for... for... somebody else!"

"Let's just take them!" Robert conspired. "There's one for each of us."


"Stop it!" Emily shouted, snatching both sandwiches from the tablecloth, and pressing them against her chest. "You can't have them!"

"Try and stop us!" Robert challenged, taking a step forward to kick at the picnic basket. Just then, something stirred from one end of the cloth, the end opposite from where Emily sat. From the amount of dust that was kicked up, it was a rather large something, but quizzically, no matter how hard the boys stared, the rather large something remained unseen.

The unseen, rather large something snorted.

"What was that?" Tommy asked, glancing fearfully at the little girl, whose lips were tightly sealed.

Robert, on the other hand, was not to be deterred. He stepped beside the picnic basket and raised his foot menacingly. Before he could stomp down on the little basket, however, something pummeled into the boy's side, shoving him into his trembling buddy and knocking the two into the dirt.

"Goooo awaaaay!" A deep voice growled, tossing a handful of dirt in the boys' direction.

Needing no further urging, the two scattered onto their feet and fled. Tommy, the slower of the two, cold be heard moaning as he ran.

"I hate those two." Emily scowled. "Sometimes I wish they would go away forever!" There was a pause.

"No, don't do that!" Emily scolded her visitor. "That would be bad! Promise me you won't!"

Another handful of seconds passed.

Satisfied, the girl proceeded to unwrap both sandwiches, and placed each one on a plate. "I hope you like nutter butter." She said, taking a bite of hers.

After a couple of moments, Emily smiled.

x x x

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