OF MOONLIGHT AND DANDELION’S
Leaning against the wall of the garage, Willow closed her eyes and listened to the strange sounds emitting from within the house. Unearthly cries of distress rang through the walls, out across the garden, and all the way to where she stood. Not quite screaming, not quite moaning, these sounds were more a kind of howling and wailing. These sounds increased in volume as they soared to their natural crescendo.
Willow gazed down at the ground beneath her feet. Scuffing her toes across fine pebbles, she drew circles in the ground…circles around circles that increased in size in conjunction with the level of noise that now echoed across the afternoon. Starting at her feet, Willow began with a small circle, just big enough to stand in. Then, she continued to trace neat, perfectly round circles around herself, which grew and grew as the afternoon unfolded. I’m like a bullseye, she thought. I’m standing in the middle of a giant dartboard!
Feeling very safe within her circles, Willow hardly stirred when, suddenly, the door of the house burst open! Out into the garden she flew, racing down the driveway and out into the street. Shrieking, wailing, and howling, this woman was clearly persued by demons Willow could not see. She could not see them – but Willow knew that whatever was chasing that poor lady down the road must be very frightening indeed.
Blown along by a strong breeze, clouds sailed across the night, parting occasionally to reveal the brightest moon Willow had seen in a while. If the moon appears for long enough, thought Willow, I could make my way to the Oak Tree. Instantly resolved, Willow was now unable to think further than the large, white rug that she knew lay at the foot of a very familiar bed. Above all things, Willow wanted most to be lying in that rug, wrapped up tightly in the warmth of the lovely little house, nestling at the foot of the giant Oak Tree. Perhaps Jay would be in bed already. Perhaps, if Willow were very lucky indeed, Jay would read to her while she rested there. It was getting pretty late now, and Willow felt very tired.
As soon as the moon revealed itself, smiling widely down on Willow, casting a broad path of moonlight directly before her feet, Willow prised herself off the wall against which she was now resting, and raced off down the silvery path . She was just in time! As she reached the door to the Oak Tree, clouds folded themselves back across the moon, plunging Willow into absolute darkness. All she could see now, was the doorknob. Miraculously, the broad, jade-green surface seemed almost alight with a strong, beautiful glow. As ever, clouds swirled across the surface of the doorknob, behind which Willow was sure she could see the moon above her reflected. Above me, and under my hand, noted Willow. How is this possible? It’s almost as though I am up there and down here at the same time.
Entering the room, Willow was surprised to find that, although the little white lamp beside Jay’s bed was alight, Jay was not there. Calling out to her, Willow received no reply. Silence. Where could she be Willow wondered. Exhausted, but knowing that wherever she may be, Jay would not be far, Willow kicked off her shoes and sank gratefully down into the soft, white rug at the foot of Jay’s bed. I shall sleep for a while, she thought and, hopefully, Jay will be here when I awaken.
A short while later, Willow opened her eyes, and gazed about her, searching the room for any sign of Jay. There was none. Feeling rested, Willow stepped out of the rug, and wandered through the little round house, softly calling Jay’s name again. Some people might have been afraid. Some people may well have feared for themselves, also for Jay, so unusual was it that Jay was not there. Willow was not afraid. Even though she was not in the room beside her, Willow could hear Jay’s voice.
“Don’t worry, dear” Willow could hear Jay saying. “There is never any need to worry. It is a complete waste of time. All will be revealed, eventually.” Willow could hear Jay advise.
Although she felt rested, Willow was more than a little concerned about all she had experienced earlier in the day. Those strange cries she had heard, now echoed through her mind. Where had the woman run to, wondered Willow. So desperate, so wild, so tormented had she been, that Willow feared the poor lady may have done herself some harm in her flight. This fear caused a deep uneasiness in Willow, which could only be soothed by taking a walk – perhaps, to the meadow. Yes! I’ll go now, thought Willow. On my way home, I’ll return to see if Jay is back yet.
Closing the door behind her, Willow noticed that, for the first time ever, the surface of the doorknob was dark. No longer jade, no longer showing clouds, nor reflecting the bright moon above them, the doorknob appeared almost black. This is strange, thought Willow. One might well imagine a moon like this would easily be reflected across this broad, smooth surface. Willow paused for a moment – was it a sign? Should she return home, she wondered. No! Feeling compelled to head for the meadow, Willow proceeded to make her way carefully along the moonlit path.
Stepping through a familiar gap in the trees, to her surprise, Willow immediately saw the fountain! Bright in the moonlight, the fountain rose with great strength, reaching high up into the night sky. Goodness, thought Willow. Is it possible that this fountain never sleeps? Walking slowly towards it, Willow noticed a couple of dandelions, bright, like lions teeth, glistening in the moonlight.
Then Willow noticed, standing in front of the fountain, something light and long shimmering in the silvery light. Shiny, silver threads of silk lifted in the breeze, blowing gently around what Willow could now see was a figure, standing motionless and quiet in the moonlight.
Willow stood still! That was not all. There was a second figure. Was that her? Yes! This is where the woman had run to! There she lay still, stretched out in the moonlight, across the grass beside the fountain, at the feet of the figure shimmering silently over her.
Slowly, carefully, Willow approached again, tip toeing as close as she could towards the woman on the ground, holding her breath so as not to be heard. Now, from where she was, Willow noticed there were signs that some sort of a struggle had taken place. A shoe, tossed to the left of where she lay, a watch, gleaming in the grass to the left of her hand, her dress torn, the woman lay in an unearthly stillness, as though barely conscious. Her wet hair spread twisted and tangled in the long grass around her. Was she even breathing? Willow felt something running down her cheek – was that water from the fountain, she wondered, or was she crying.
Suddenly voices could be heard! Crouching down to hide herself in the longest grass near her, Willow watched as, through the woodlands around them, four men rushed into the meadow towards the woman on the ground. Without a word, the standing figure turned, and nodded to these men! Jay!! The figure was JAY!! Jay with her hair down, Jay shimmering quietly in the moonlight, Jay with her long, silver hair billowing around her in the breeze.
The four men stooped down. Lifting the woman up high they walked slowly from the fountain, and, bearing her aloft they carried her into the woodland that surrounded the meadow. Willow was watching, noticing everything; water that glistened in the moonlight as it slid from her dress, how pale her skin looked gleaming against the dark, night sky in competition with the moon itself, droplets of water on her toes as she was carried past, and, beads of water dropping from her fingers where they hung down below her as she was carried away.
“Come, Willow.” Alight in the moonlight, Jay turned and offered Willow her hand. “Come and stand beside me for a while. We shall watch the fountain together, until we are ready to go home.”
“You look so lovely with your hair down” Willow whispered. Reaching out to Jay’s hand, she allowed herself to be pulled up to her feet.
“Is she dead?”
“No, she is not dead. It has been a very long day, Willow and an even longer night. You must be very tired.”
“What happened here, Jay?”
“Are you sure you would like to know, dear?” Jay was frowning slightly. “Don’t answer in haste, Willow. Consider before you reply. We always get exactly what we ask for, you know, and the answer is not always what we wanted.”
Willow considered this for a moment or two. It was true. So often, she had asked questions the answers to which she would far rather never have known. However, despite this, Willow replied: “Yes, please. I would very much like to know, Jay.”
Gently, Jay led Willow over to the fountain.
“Look deeply into the fountain, Willow. You will find the answers to all your question in there.”
Gazing into the fountain, Willow became aware of a shadow moving across, around and through the very fountain itself. Was that her, Willow wondered? The more closely she looked, the more the figure in the fountain began to appear as the woman Willow knew so well. Swirling, twisting and turning within the water, the figure in the fountain seemed now to reach out frantically towards a second figure that had appeared. The second figure could now faintly be seen to be moving around the circumference of the fountain itself, brushing against it, and stepping back from the hands that reached out towards it. Suddenly, the second figure was in the fountain too!
Beneath a bright, full moon, Willow stood gazing into the fountain. Gazing in awe, Willow watched as the two figures struggled and battled within the water itself. Lifted up, and thrust down again with the power of their struggle, they tossed and turned and wrestled in the moonlight. Finally, the second figure emerged from the fountain, pulling the other limp figure out of the water with her.
The shadows faded, and all Willow could now see was the figure of Jay standing quietly beside her.
“I’m sorry you chose to see this, Willow.” Jay sighed. “These are not things you should be seeing at all.”
“Such a terrible struggle, Jay! Are you alright?” Staring at Jay, Willow noticed scratches on her face, and, was that a bruise she could see in the moonlight, already forming across Jay’s cheekbone…
“I’m perfectly fine, dear” Jay smiled. “Come, Willow, let’s get you home.”
Turning to go, Willow noticed clouds moving quickly across the sky. As in a theatre, it was as though the clouds were drawing across the moonlight, closing the drama of all that Willow had seen.
Leaving the meadow, Willow leaned down toward the larger of the two dandelions, and blew softly into the breeze…
She loves me…she loves me not…she loves me…she loves me not…
“Be careful what you ask, Willow. You may not wish to receive the reply.”
She loves me!!
Was this possible? Could it really be true? Despite all she had seen and heard that day, Willow felt a deep warmth moving throughout her body like mercury, settling only when it reached her heart.
She loves me!!
Stepping away from the naked dandelion, Willow followed Jay out of the meadow with a smile, even brighter than the moon had been!