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He had a sense of elegance about him, a bit of his chest peeking out of the top of the shirt. A drop of dipping oil dropped from a piece of bread and onto this particular spot of skin. Bassanio reached for a napkin but Antonio stretched his arm across the table and wiped the oil off with his fingers. He let his fingers linger on Bassanio's chest, feeling the intense warmth and steady beat of his pulse echoing through his body.

He rested his hand there just a moment too long for Bassanio stood from the table abruptly, thanked Antonio curtly, and left the house swiftly. Antonio cradled his face in his hands, oil and all, longing for his time with Bassanio to never be cut short but continue day after day. Little did Antonio know but his dream lived into a reality. Every day after that, Bassanio would show up to help with whatever needed to be done and afterwards Antonio would have him over for food and wine. Though Antonio did not have the money to be so giving, he bought Bassanio luxury items such as lavish foods and expensive garments.

He would also give over jewels with the sparkle of the sun, and ducats by the handful. Antonio found that the more lavish the gift, the longer Bassanio would stay with him. Antonio was willing to pay the world for those times with Bassanio, every moment more valuable than all the ducats in Venice. After many fortnights of these processions, Antonio met Bassanio by the entrance to the dock.

Seeing Antonio from afar, Bassanio jogged over, his smile gleaming so brightly as to cause Antonio's breath to sharply enter and feel as though it would never come out. What will we treat ourselves with today? Food, wine, or a new pair of shoes for me? Antonio bit his lip and grinned, wrapping his arm around Bassanio's waist tightly.

Bassanio used to grunt and push him off when he did that formerly, but a grand bag of ducats seemed to change his mind. The two walked closely down the street until Bassanio stopped short, "Antonio, what on Earth are you wearing? Bassanio and Antonio looked at each other in silence for a few moments before Bassanio shook his head and laughed and they began to make their way over to Antonio's house.

Once inside, Antonio opened a hatch door in the ceiling and the orange glow of the sunset blinded them both. There is quite a view. You can almost see the docks from here, look! Bassanio followed his point, "Yes I see, but let us not be reminded of work. Let us rest and relax as two friends,".

Now, do you have some food or wine, or maybe another token of our friendship for me? As for the token, is the presence of my body and soul not enough of a token to show my love? But no matter, I will give you my shoes so you can take them with you and remember my deep love,". Antonio poured two glasses, and as the sun shrunk, so did the amount of liquid in the wine bottle.

Soon another was fetched, and then another and another. The sun was long gone, and Bassanio's consciousness was soon to follow it. Your body is about to go still and how am I to enjoy your presence when you are not here to talk to me and sooth me with your voice?

Bassanio tried to prop himself up with one arm but failed terribly. If you had not spent all of your money on your dress then you would have another bottle to give me. I spend every day with you, let you hold me and let you say the secrets of your mind with no ridicule, yet you have no wine for me? Your eyes have dropped and your body gone limp! What should I do with you now? He held up Bassanio's unconscious head and spoke to it, "You say you let me hold you and tell you my secrets, but you have felt and learned nothing! Antonio lay on his back next to the unconscious Bassanio on the roof, gazing up at the stars.

If only you knew how I feel as though I am going to explode inside! Every time I see you, Bassanio, I feel this great swelling eruption that I cannot define! It goes beyond any feeling I have ever felt before. The feeling brings tremors throughout my body and burning heat even when it is freezing cold in the air! The feeling keeps me up at night, simply laying there, thoughts racing. There were some nights when the feelings were just too much to bear.

Sometimes I would spend the entire night vomiting, hoping to purge himself of not just my food but my feelings as well. Other nights I will lay in bed and get a deep ache in my arms as though they needed to hold someone, they needed a body to lie beside them! Though I know you cannot hear me, Bassanio, I wish you could understand the passion I have for you.

It is not simply the love of two friends but it feels like more. I would give anything for you, Bassanio!

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I have never felt as attached to a human as the way I am with you. I would even admit to the fact that, yes, I am wearing a dress if it would simply bring that smile to your face. I feel like we are tied to each other by connected nooses. When one of them drops, the other person is dragged down as well!

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Antonio sat up and began to shake Bassanio's shoulders, the mist of tears beginning to build up in his eyes, "Bassanio! If only we could figure this out! If only my love was returned as strongly. I would not be shaking your shoulders tonight but rather be cradled in your sober arms asleep on the rooftop! He crossed his arms on his chest and gazed at the stars. Bassanio woke with a terrible aching head. He found himself laying on a rooftop with a mouth as dry as flour and dull pain in his shoulders.

Covering his eyes from the morning sunlight, he fumbled his way to the trapdoor and tripped down some stairs into Antonio's kitchen.

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Antonio stood stirring something on the stove he turned and called, "Morning, drowsy, maybe if you hadn't tipped back so much wine you could have been able to help me with breakfast,". As Bassanio wolfed down his breakfast Antonio continued to playfully slap his face with the spoon.

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Bassanio shook his head into his food and once he was done Antonio escorted him out. Antonio gave a forced laugh, "Oh Bassanio you sly little fox. You're as sassy as a cat with the swagger of a dagger! Bassanio laughed, "Honestly Antonio, you are getting stranger by the day. You should be speaking about yourself! Antonio gave an unforced laugh; he was pleased with that description, "So how did you sleep last night? High up in its green summit the wood-pigeon built her nest, and the cuckoo sat in its boughs and sang his song; and in autumn, when the leaves looked like thin plates of copper, the birds of passage came and rested there, before they flew away across the sea; but now it was winter, and the Tree stood there leafless, so that every one could see how gnarled and crooked the branches were that shot forth from its trunk.

Crows and rooks came and took their seat by turns in the boughs, and spoke of the hard times which were beginning, and of the difficulty of getting a living in winter. The Tree had a distinct feeling of the festive time, and fancied he heard the bells ringing from the churches all around; and yet it seemed as if it were a fine summer's day, mild and warm.

Fresh and green he spread out his mighty crown; the sunbeams played among the twigs and the leaves; the air was full of the fragrance of herbs and blossoms; gay butterflies chased each other to and fro. The ephemeral insects danced as if all the world were created merely for them to dance and be merry in. All that the Tree had experienced for years and years, and that had happened around him, seemed to pass by him again, as in a festive pageant.

He saw the knights of ancient days ride by with their noble dames on gallant steeds, with plumes waving in their bonnets and falcons on their wrists. The hunting horn sounded, and the dogs barked. He saw hostile warriors in coloured jerkins and with shining weapons, with spear and halberd, pitching their tents and striking them again.


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The watchfires flamed up anew, and men sang and slept under the branches of the Tree. He saw loving couples meeting near his trunk, happily, in the moonshine; and they cut the initials of their names in the grey-green bark of his stem. The wood-pigeons cooed, as if they were telling what the Tree felt in all this, and the cuckoo called out to tell him how many summer days he had yet to live.

Then it appeared to him as if new life were rippling down into the remotest fibre of his root, and mounting up into his highest branches, to the tops of the leaves. The Tree felt that he was stretching and spreading himself, and through his root he felt that there was life and warmth even in the ground itself. He felt his strength increase, he grew higher, his stem shot up unceasingly, and he grew more and more, his crown became fuller and spread out; and in proportion as the Tree grew, he felt his happiness increase, and his joyous hope that he should reach even higher—quite up to the warm brilliant sun.

Already had he grown high up above the clouds, which floated past beneath his crown like dark troops of passage-birds, or like great white swans. And every leaf of the Tree had the gift of sight, as if it had eyes wherewith to see: They recalled to his memory well-known gentle eyes, eyes of children, eyes of lovers, who had met beneath his boughs. It was a marvellous spectacle, and one full of happiness and joy! And yet amid all this happiness the Tree felt a longing, a yearning desire that all other trees of the wood beneath him, and all the bushes, and herbs, and flowers, might be able to rise with him, that they too might see this splendour and experience this joy.

The great majestic Oak was not quite happy in his happiness, while he had not them all, great and little, about him; and this feeling of yearning trembled through his every twig, through his every leaf, warmly and fervently as through a human heart. The crown of the Tree waved to and fro, as if he sought something in his silent longing, and he looked down.

Then he felt the fragrance of woodruff, and soon afterwards the more powerful scent of honeysuckle and violets; and he fancied he heard the cuckoo answering him. Yes, through the clouds the green summits of the forest came peering up, and under himself the Oak saw the other trees, as they grew and raised themselves aloft. Bushes and herbs shot up high, and some tore themselves up bodily by the roots to rise the quicker. The birch was the quickest of all. Like a white streak of lightning, its slender stem shot upwards in a zigzag line, and the branches spread around it like green gauze and like banners; the whole woodland natives, even to the brown-plumed rushes, grew up with the rest, and the birds came too, and sang; and on the grass-blade that fluttered aloft like a long silken ribbon into the air, sat the grasshopper cleaning his wings with his leg; the May beetles hummed, and the bees murmured, and every bird sang in his appointed manner; all was song and sound of gladness up into the high heaven.

How can so much happiness be imagined? How can it be possible? And the old Tree, who grew on and on, felt how his roots were tearing themselves free from the ground.


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I can fly up now, to the very highest, in glory and in light! And all my beloved ones are with me, great and small—all of them, all!

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That was the dream of the old Oak Tree; and while he dreamed thus a mighty storm came rushing over land and sea—at the holy Christmastide. The sea rolled great billows towards the shore, and there was a cracking and crashing in the tree—his root was torn out of the ground in the very moment while he was dreaming that his root freed itself from the earth. His three hundred and sixty-five years were now as the single day of the Ephemera.

On the morning of the Christmas festival, when the sun rose, the storm had subsided. From all the churches sounded the festive bells, and from every hearth, even from the smallest hut, arose the smoke in blue clouds, like the smoke from the altars of the Druids of old at the feast of thank-offerings.