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Under One Tree

Updated on November 27, 2019

Just me, a professor and the tree.

One early summer of my life, changed my life. I was there at the campus, waiting on my new girlfriend. I sat beneath an old tall tree, leaned against the trunk and just watched people. I was a bit early. I really didn't want to be late and disappoint her and I thought she might appreciate it.

People were walking from morning classes and to afternoon classes. I noticed an old professor going up the walkway. He looked like Einstein with red hair. He stopped, turned and looked at me. I heard the word, "Reader" in my mind. It was an old voice, an ancient voice.

I felt uncomfortable and turned my attention to the lower limbs and leaves of the old tree. I soon found myself looking at the professor again. He had taken a few more steps but was still looking at me. "Reader," shouted in my mind! He then nodded, smiled and walked around the corner of the West Hall building.

It was a strange experience and even disturbing to hear a voice in my mind. I thought that the old guy must have been telepathic or something like that. Soon after, I saw two guys walking from the West Hall doors. One was talking and the other listening. I could hear what the listener was thinking.

"If you would pay your part of the rent, we could afford to go to the Steppenwolf concert tonight. I am so sick of you being such a loser", was what I was hearing in my mind. It was not actual words. It was like emotion changing into words. The listener was smiling but it was a fake smile. They were both laughing as they disappeared into the parking lot.

I looked up at the massive limbs of the old tree and wondered at the sun light skipping past the leaves as they were moved by the slight breeze. This new experience felt a lot like that. Emotions of people were skipping through the air into my mind.

I began to hear emotions from people walking by. Some were nice, some serious, and a few that were vulgar. I was really getting in to this new discovery of mine!

A girl wearing a white blouse tucked into a plaid skirt walked by and shyly smiled at me. She looked pretty modest compared to the other girls on campus. Her brown bangs just touched the top of her glasses and her hair draped her shoulders. I smiled back at her and it was strange that I didn't pick up any emotion words.

I watched her walk to the curb side and stand as if she was waiting on someone. I returned to my reading of people but often turned to look at her. Strangely, she kept getting prettier with each glance.

The wait was over, really over.

Finally, my girlfriend came out of the door. She was with two friends and they all were totally engrossed in a conversation. There she was, my strawberry blond bombshell. We had been on a few dates. We had lots of fun and she told me just last night that she really, really liked me. She saw me and gave me smile and a wave.

I stood up and leaned on the old tree to look cool for her, of course. She was walking towards me, talking with her friends while grinning and giggling. I read her emotions. "I can't believe he is here. Sure, I wanted him to pick me up but geeesh, stay in the damn car. Don't be an eager loser waiting under that stupid tree", is what I read from her.

She was smiling at me all the while. I instantly felt broken. I made up a lie and told her that I just stopped by to tell her that I couldn't go to the beach this afternoon. She looked a little surprised but said it was fine because she wanted to spend some time with her best buds anyway.

I stood there under the tree as she blew me a kiss and waved goodbye. I acted like I caught it and as she turned away I crushed it like a Dear John letter. I dropped it to the ground. She rode off with her giggling posse in one of her best bud's mommy's classic Thunderbird. I was a little upset that I wasn't really upset.

Mommy's T-Bird

Feeling better by the minute.

I folded my arms, leaned back on the tree again and began to continue entertaining this new gift. There was joy, stress, pain, humor, sadness, worry and each had their own mixture of questions and answers. "Mind if I join you," came out of the blue as I was looking at a gay couple sharing a book an smiles on an iron bench.

She walked in front of me and smiled asking,"Is this your tree or can anyone share the shade?" I saw it was the girl I kept glancing at. I grinned and answered, "Why yes, this is my tree but you are quite welcome to the shade." She introduced herself as Grace and told me that her ride didn't show up again. We talked a little about the campus and her classes. All through the conversation, I couldn't read a thing about her. Then it hit me. I didn't need to read her. She was being herself.

We were under one tree

Her name was Grace.


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    • Tom Cornett profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Cornett 

      11 years ago from Ohio

      oscillationatend....thanks much...what you said its so true. :)

    • oscillationatend profile image


      11 years ago from a recovering narcissist.

      Absolutely beautiful Tom...I love your writing style.

      Empathy is a very strong gift, and if people would listen with their hearts more often they would discover everyone has it.

      But you're right--when there's no social posturing involved, there's nothing to read into.

    • Tom Cornett profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Cornett 

      11 years ago from Ohio

      jill of alltrades....thank you...not book in mind yet...but maybe? :)

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 

      11 years ago from Philippines

      Great story, great ending, but I feel there is still more... are you planning a book or something?

      Beautiful tree photo by the way. I can almost see you and the girl underneath it.

    • Tom Cornett profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Cornett 

      11 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks Dr. Larkin. :)

    • Dr. Larkin profile image

      Dr. Larkin 

      11 years ago from In the portrait of a madman

      That was a deep one

    • Tom Cornett profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Cornett 

      11 years ago from Ohio

      Thank you Am I dead, yet.......thank you much. :)

    • profile image

      Am I dead, yet? 

      11 years ago

      Very philosophical of you, Tom. Another amazing story.

    • Tom Cornett profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Cornett 

      11 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks Peggy......yes....modesty and honesty....rare....and the most beautiful part of love.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      11 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Great story regarding reading people as they truly are...not what they would like us to believe. Guess that "real" girl became your wife?

    • Tom Cornett profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Cornett 

      11 years ago from Ohio

      liminal....thank you.....yes...little white lies... very human.....all of us. :) is a rare treat indeed. :)

    • TheMindlessBrute profile image


      11 years ago from Orlando,Florida

      Awesome hub Tom,I enjoy the way you expressed the often missed perceptions.It's even better when you describe what it's like to meet a genuine human being,a rare treat indeed!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      A beautiful story, Tom! Made me think about human nature and how we all use little white lies to get through life. A great happy ending though!

    • Tom Cornett profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Cornett 

      11 years ago from Ohio

      Candie......he can't help it...I mess with his head all the time. :)

      C.Ferreira.....Thank you...thank you much. :)

    • C.Ferreira profile image


      11 years ago from Rutland, VT

      That was a great story! Kinda reminded me of The Giving Tree

    • Candie V profile image

      Candie V 

      11 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

      Wow, what a great kid you have, he called you "Deep"!

    • Tom Cornett profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Cornett 

      11 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks Cris.....thanks much!...LYM too! :)

      Deece....thanks....always up! :)

    • Deece profile image


      11 years ago from Piqua, OH

      Great hub dad, very.......deep. Keep it up

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 

      11 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      we can always tell, right Tom? another great read! thanks for sharing always. LYM - bet you didn't see that coming! LOL :D

    • Tom Cornett profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Cornett 

      11 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks Feline Prophet...not many. :)

      Freida.....Thanks....people should say what they mean...I totally agree. :)

      Sixtyorso ...thanks....glad I drug you in. :)

      earnesthub....thanks...thank you much. :)

    • earnestshub profile image


      11 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Great and imsightful hub, very enjoyable read, thank you,

    • sixtyorso profile image

      Clive Fagan 

      11 years ago from South Africa

      Brilliant, simple, evocative and very philisophical.

      A great read you just dragged me in.

    • Frieda Babbley profile image

      Frieda Babbley 

      11 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      Fantastic! At first I thought you were going to be telling us about psychic abilities (which you were, but you know what I mean). That last part though, that was awesome, that's what it's all about. That's what ought to be happening. Why can't people just say what they mean? I mean really.

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 

      11 years ago

      Loved the last many of us can really say that and mean it? :)

    • Tom Cornett profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Cornett 

      11 years ago from Ohio

      Thank you Nana for the kind comment. :)

      G-Ma...thank you...hugs back! :)

      Pachuca...thank you much! :)

      TamCor.....because I love you....hugs! :)

    • TamCor profile image

      Tammy Cornett 

      11 years ago from Ohio

      I loved this--I could picture the whole story!~~hugs~~:)

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      that was beautiful Tom!!!

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 

      11 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      ...And such a beautiful full of meaning and big branches and leaves and wisdom...It must have been it still seems...:O) Hugs

    • Nolimits Nana profile image

      Nicolette Goff 

      11 years ago from British Columbia

      Really great read - love it that you could hear the truth behind the 'lie'. Thanks!

    • Tom Cornett profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Cornett 

      11 years ago from Ohio

      Thank you Triplet Mom. :)

      Gypsy a sense I did. :) animals this time....thanks...hugs back! :)

      raiderfan.....thanks. :)

      I*n*v*i*c*t*u* short story.....maybe? :) song this amazing hobby that teaches us a lot about the human race.....thanks... :)

      alekhouse....thank you much. :)

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      11 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Very nice, Tom. Really liked it. Thanks

    • Hawkesdream profile image

      Al Hawkes 

      11 years ago from Cornwall

      Hi Tom, was waiting for you to break into this was great. People watching is an amazing hobby to have.

    • I*n*v*i*c*t*u*s profile image


      11 years ago

      This is lovely... is it a continuing story? : )

    • raiderfan profile image


      11 years ago from Arizona

      very cool Tom.

    • Candie V profile image

      Candie V 

      11 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

      Ah and yet another facet to our beloved Tom!! 

      This was beautiful.  Somethimes I anticipate certain endings, predictable ending, and usually I'm correct.  This time I was not and I am so pleased to be wrong..  I kinda of expected a squirrel or bird to make an appearance, too.. but wrong again.. so I get 2 wrongs and you got 1 more hub right!  Many hugs!

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 

      11 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Did you marry her, what comes next? I feel a book coming on!

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 

      11 years ago from West Coast

      Oh this was absolutely wonderful!!

    • Tom Cornett profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Cornett 

      11 years ago from Ohio

      Thank you Ginn....thank you much. :)

    • Tom Cornett profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Cornett 

      11 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks advisor4qb.....grins...yes...deep. :)

    • Ginn Navarre profile image

      Ginn Navarre 

      11 years ago

      I really enjoyed this read and its deep meaning came through and left a bookmark.

    • advisor4qb profile image


      11 years ago from On New Footing

      I like it. Deep.


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