STORIES OF WILLOW contd….

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OF LION’S TEETH AND FIRE

It was a very hot day!  Pulling off her favourite hoody, Willow rolled it up and lay down on the grass with her purple pillow under her head for extra comfort.  Settling down, WIllow folded her arms across her chest and gazed up into the clear blue sky.  It was quite a breezy day.  In fact it was a very warm breeze that drifted across her on this very hot day, but it was not unpleasant.  The exact name for this particular kind of breeze escaped Willow, but she was perfectly comfortable.  Dandelion florets drifted across the meadow causing Willow to imagine herself floating along beside them on the breeze.  Dandelion – from the French “dent-de-lion” meaning Lion’s Tooth, Willow had been told.  Anything less like a Lion’s Tooth, Willow could not imagine.  Birds rested their wings allowing themselves to be carried across the meadow on currents of air.  Reaching out lazily Willow pulled a thick blade of grass from the ground and twisted it around her finger to make a ring.  An emerald ring of the prettiest, brightest green.

Despite resting as she was in one of the safest places she knew, Willow found herself increasingly unable to drift along with the dandelions as the day progressed.  Willow supposed this was understandable.  It had been a very noisy night the night before.  The kind of noise one could not escape from  The kind of noise that even when she covered her ears, Willow could still hear.  She could hear this noise, she knew, because it was silent.  Yes, on reflection, it was in fact the silent noise that had kept Willow awake all night. Unearthly moans of despair, sounds of hollow wailing and lamenting, desperate screams of frustration, slamming of doors and voices raised in heated debate were not as disturbing as the silence in the noise of the night before. How strange this was, thought Willow, as she fell deeper and deeper into reflection on it all.

Willow felt herself increasingly restless and more and more unable to drift.  The more she gazed at them now, the more like Lion’s Teeth the dandelions began to appear.  Imagining a lion with a mouthful of dandelions clamping down on a beast of prey  had made Willow laugh to herself when she arrived at the meadow today.  Suddenly it seemed less funny.  Teeth – yes, the more she stared the more she could see it.  Teeth were drifting through the sky towards an unseen prey.

Shaking herself out of such thoughts Willow cast her eye away from the dandelions towards the fountain.  Lifted by the breeze, droplets of water sprayed across the meadow brushing Willow’s cheek, occasionally landing on her lips.  But wait!  Willow’s cheek was burning as though brushed by a flame!  Wiping her lips Willow felt warmth on the back of her hand!  The fountain!!  The fountain was changing!  Willow sat up!  Instead of clear water, reds and golds now appeared in the fountain!  What was this?  What was happening to the fountain?  Oh no!!  What if the fountain no longer consisted of water!  What if the fountain were FIRE!

Jumping to her feet, Willow grabbed her hoody and pulled it on, hugging it tightly against her body as she stared at the fountain before her!  Was she imagining it, or was the fountain in fact ablaze!  Yes!!  Where only a moment ago a fountain stood shooting rainbows across the green grass, showering Willow with crystal droplets of the sweetest, coolest water, now a giant torch of FIRE reached high up into the sky!!  Carried by the air it now blazed before her, shooting sparks of flame across the meadow, sprinkling her hoody with droplets of gold.

NO!  The meadow will burn!  The meadow will disappear, cried Willow, watching in horror as fingers of flame reached out from the blaze across the grass towards the very edges of the meadow!  Willow thought of the only person who would know what to do about this.  Turning from the blaze, Willow raced across the meadow and out into the trees!

Arriving at the Oak Tree, Willow paused to catch her breath, resting her hand on the cool,  jade-green doorknob.  Today a sun could clearly be seen through shades of green and grey that swirled across its broad, smooth surface.  Was everything ablaze today, wondered Willow, as the door softly swung open at her touch.

Sitting at her desk, Jay’s bright, enquiring eyes turned to greet Willow with the warmth and welcome that Willow had come to know so well.  Sitting down on a small wooden stool beside her, Willow talked breathlessly to Jay of Lion’s Teeth and fountains turned to fire.

“What must we do Jay?”she cried.  “What must we do?  The meadow will surely burn!  What if the fire reaches across the meadow to your Oak Tree?  We must do something!” she urged!  “What must we do?”

Jay listened quietly while Willow spoke.  After a moment or two of silence, Jay replied:

“We’ll be fine.” smiled Jay.  “You know dear, it’s all in the mind.”

Willow fell silent.  Thinking back over what she had seen, indeed, how could it have been real.  Surely she had imagined it.

“Did I dream this?” she asked Jay.

“Were you asleep?” Leaning again over her notebook, Jay enquired softly and in a way that did not challenge Willow nor make her feel embarrassed.  So many people would have laughed at her for what she was saying, but Jay never laughed at her – no matter what she said.

“No, I was not asleep!  It’s still daylight!  There’s even a sun on your doorknob!” Willow told Jay. “I was wide awake!  I saw it!  The fountain became FIRE!  I saw Lion’s Teeth drifting across the sky!  It is real!  It IS real!”

“It is real.” replied Jay. ” It’s real in your mind.  It’s all in your mind dear.  What’s in your mind is very real indeed.”

“Oh.” replied Willow.  “Oh, I see.  I think.” 

But still she was puzzled. 

“So if it’s real Jay, what must I do? How can I stop it?  What do I do to stop this fire and…and what has happened to the dandelions?”

Jay, putting down her pen, turned to look Willow straight in the eye as she made her reply:

“Change your mind dear.” she replied.  “Go back to the meadow, look at the fountain again.  If it’s still on fire, decide not to be distressed by it.  Rise above it Willow.  You’ll see it all differently then.  You’ll also see the dandelions again.”

Willow was suddenly very tired. 

“What if I can’t do that Jay.  What if I fail.  I don’t want to get it wrong!  What if I simply can’t rise above it?  Jay, I’m scared….”

“Be just like the dandelions, Willow.” replied Jay.  Turning back to her notebook, she continued: “Drift, Willow.  Drift up and out of the situation just as the dandelions did when Lions Teeth blew in on the breeze.”

“I’ll try!” replied Willow. “I’ll try my very best!” she promised Jay, though rather doubting she could achieve that.  “What if I can’t do it?”  her doubts continued to nag.

“You do your best dear.” replied Jay.  “You just do your best.  You can’t ask more of yourself than the best you can do, now can you.”  Jay smiled.  “Would you like to rest before you go?  You’re welcome to sleep for a while if it would make you feel a little stronger.”

Thinking of the rug at the foot of Jay’s bed, Willow was tempted.  However, eager to resolve the matter of the Lion’s Teeth and the Fire, Willow declined the offer, however tempting.

“I must go, Jay!  I must go quickly!”

Running from the Oak Tree, Willow turned back just in time to notice that the doorknob now revealed a clearly defined half-moon on its surface!  I really must ask Jay again about that doorknob, thought Willow, as she ran to the meadow.

There it was!  It was a FIRE!  Nearly 12ft tall, wide flames reached up to the sky!!  Golden sparks showered down from where the fountain had stood singeing the grass and curling the edges of leaves with the heat emitted from the source of this blaze.  HOW?  How, Jay? How to rise above what I see before my eyes??!

“Do not be distressed by it.” Willow heard Jay reply.  “See it differently, Willow.  You will be able to rise above it.” 

But how to see this fire differently wondered Willow as she stood before the blazing furnace, feeling only the two inches tall.  See it differently.  How….

Looking up to the sky, Willow noticed that the sun was strong.  It reminded Willow of the sun she had seen on the doorknob of Jay’s tree.  High as it was in the sky, the sun shone down on the meadow with great strength equalling the light of the blaze before her.  Wait!  Could it be that what I see in the fountain is merely a reflection of the sun, Willow wondered.

On looking more closely into the golden sparks showering from the blaze, were these sparks in fact droplets of water alight in the glow of the afternoon sun?  Could it be that when landing on her cheek these droplets had felt so cool against her hot skin that they burned her as ice did when pressed against her face.

Gazing around at the singed grass and curling leaves could it be, wondered Willow, that on this very hot day the luscious green had finally surrendered to what had been two weeks of an intense heat, unusual for this time of year.

What was it Willow now saw?  Gazing back into the heart of the blaze was it, in fact, a rainbow Willow could see dancing between surges of water alight in the sun!!  Yes!  It is the fountain, cried Willow!  It is still a fountain!  It is simply ablaze in the sun!

Sinking down onto the grass in relief, Willow covered her face with her hands!  What happened, she wondered.  Why couldn’t I see this before?

Lying back on the grass, Willow watched as throughout the afternoon the sun slid lower and lower down the sky.  With each change in light new rainbows appeared as more and more crystal clear water emerged through the gold that sparkled in the light of the slowly setting sun.

Oh no!  NO, not again! Haunted once more, Willow heard again the hollow moaning, the shrieking, the cries of the night before.  Squeezing her eyes tightly shut against an ever increasing silence in the noise, Willow recalled Jay’s words,  “See it differently, dear.  Rise above it.”

Something soft touched Willow’s cheek and drifted away across the meadow.

Rise above it, thought Willow.  Fixing her eye on one particular dandelion, Willow followed it up into the sky.

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