LYING IN THE LONG GRASS
Pulling herself up onto a large, smooth boulder, Willow emerged from the little stream, shook the water from her hair, and lay back down on her rock, in order to dry herself off in the sun. It was one of those days on which Willow felt she might actually never leave the meadow at all. Throughout the week, Willow had counted the days, hours and minutes as they moved steadily towards the weekend, bringing her closer to being able to be in the only place in the whole world she actually wanted to be. Right here, lying on this very boulder, drying herself off under a beautiful, warm, golden sun.
The more she thought about it, the more troubled Willow grew. What was it her mother had said to her about people? On being confronted by a sad, and very confused Willow, she had talked of how frightful people generally were, how they were all to be avoided as far as possible, and certainly, how people were never to be trusted.
None of this was a source of any comfort to Willow. Nor did she believe it. Having loved her friend with only the purest joy, Willow had been deeply shocked and saddened to learn that her friend no longer liked her. This sad truth had come to Willow one dreadful morning at school that week – a morning Willow wished never to remember. Yet, there it was – uppermost in her mind:
“You are not my friend anymore, Willow! ” her friend had announced. “I don’t want to play with you anymore.”
That had been on the Monday. On the Tuesday of that week, Willow had gone in persuit of her friend. What, why, where and when had this terrible thing happened, she wanted to know.
Many words had come to Willow in reply. So many words, Willow could hardly make sense of them. For whatever reasons her friend had, Willow was forced to accept that something had gone terribly wrong.
On Wednesday of that week, fairly certain that she must have played some part in this turn of events, Willow had returned to her friend, in further persuit of a greater understanding of what may, or may not have, occurred.
Again, more words had come to Willow in reply. On Wednesday, and on Thursday too.
On Friday afternoon of that week, Willow had watched her friend at play with her new friends. People with whom Willow knew she would never be happy to play.
Today, lying on her back in the sunshine, Willow was seeking some kind of understanding. While she could see that her friend had her own reasons for no longer liking her, Willow struggled to understand them, to believe them, and most of all to accept them.
“I just don’t get it!” she said out aloud. “I just don’t get why my friend no longer likes me!”
“Not everyone is going to like you, Willow.”
Sitting up, Willow spun around to see Dog lying in the long grass, just behind her boulder.
“It has happened for some very good reason’s. Everything always does.” Dog yawned, and, placing his head down on his paws, closed his eyes and went to sleep.
Willow considered this for a while. Not everyone is going to like me. Well, why should they, she thought. Perhaps Dog was right – perhaps everything had happened just as it was meant to.
“Wake up, Dog!! Let’s go to the fountain!”
Dog opened first one eye, and then the other. Looking up at the keen, and very eager Willow, he pulled himself up, pricked up his ears, peered around him for a moment and swished his tail. This was more like it! A Willow he could play with!
Dry, and wonderfully warmed by the sun, Willow jumped off her rock and raced Dog across the meadow. Leaping up at the fountain, Dog barked at the stream of multi-coloured light shooting out at him from the water. Willow turned cartwheels in the long grass, spinning across the green in the sunshine! Dog and Willow played like this for over an hour, until, finally exhausted, Willow fell down on the grass to catch her breath.
Turning her head to the left, Willow squinted in search of the source of this new voice. Seeing nothing, Willow slowly turned her head to the right. There, precariously balanced on a tall, straight blade of grass, a pretty red ladybird swayed slightly in the breeze.
“You do lovely cartwheels, Willow! I tried to catch up with you, but you were so fast!”
Willow laughed: “I wouldn’t have seen you, Ladybird. I didn’t see you here, until you spoke!”
“I have been right beside you all day, Willow!”
Then, unfolding her wings, the ladybird lifted herself up onto the breeze, and flew out across the meadow.
“Goodbye, Willow!” she called.
How strange, thought Willow. Was that really the ladybird talking to me, or did I dream this, she wondered. Goodness, such very odd things do happen here in this beautiful meadow, she thought. Realising that she had not noticed the ladybird at all, Willow considered what else lay beside her, here in the long grass, that she had not seen. So, to hear something is to become aware of it, she pondered. But if you don’t hear anything, it doesn’t mean that there is nothing there.
“That’s quite right, Willow!”
From somewhere very near her, another voice was speaking. A voice that came from someone, or something, that apparently could read her mind, and answer her thoughts!
“Where are you?” laughed Willow. “What are you?”
“We have met before, Willow. You should recognise me!”
Turning over, and staring intently into the bright green grass around her, Willow noticed a little green grasshopper, very well concealed as he was, hidden among all the grass.
“Grasshopper! How lovely to see you again! Are you going to turn into a beautiful, tall man with a snake around his neck and a third eye, again?” she laughed.
“No, Willow. I have other things to do today. Enjoy the sunshine…and remember, just because you don’t see it, or hear it, it doesn’t mean there is nothing there!”
“Goodbye, Grasshopper!” called Willow, as the grasshopper flew off towards the stream that ran along the borders of the meadow below them.
Remembering how once, on a perfect day, that very same grasshopper had changed into a man before her eyes,Willow was very pleased to have seen him again. She had wanted to ask him more about the man, and how he had ended up as a painting on her mother’s canvas. But Grasshopper was gone, before she could ask him anything at all.
Rolling around onto her back again, Willow stretched out in the sunshine and closed her eyes, imagining all the wonderful things that lay around her in the long grass. How strange it was, she thought, that such beautiful, perfectly formed, colourful little creatures lived and breathed all around her – unseen, unnoticed, and often entirely forgotten.
Feeling something brush softly against her arm, Willow turned slowly to see the prettiest blue and green butterfly had landed on a pale blue meadow flower, that stood proud in the grass beside her.
By now, Willow was accustomed to hearing creatures talk. While she knew this was unusual – if not unheard of – outside of the meadow, she also knew that in the meadow, anything was possible. Observing this beautiful butterfly, Willow wondered at how different it must feel to be a butterfly, and she decided she really wanted to know.
“How does it feel to be a butterfly?” she asked.
“How does it feel to be a Willow?” came the reply.
Willow paused for quite a long while. Searching through words, to her surprise, Willow found if very difficult to find the words to explain how it felt to be a Willow, at all.
“I don’t know how to explain how it feels to be a Willow!” sighed Willow. “I could try to explain, but I don’t think I would be very good at making it clear!”
“I feel that way about being a butterfly. We speak the same language, Willow, but there are things I don’t think we would be able to truly explain.”
“That’s a pity, Butterfly. We do both speak the same language after all…”
“Do we though, Willow. I am not sure we do, or we wouldn’t find it so hard to explain these things to each other.”
Willow sighed, and closed her eyes again. Did it matter, she wondered, if she and the butterfly could not fully describe to each other what it felt like to be themselves. While she rather hoped it wouldn’t matter, she had a feeling that somehow this mattered very much indeed.
This thought nagged at Willow, and made her restless. Just ten minutes more in the sunshine, she thought, and then I shall go and see Jay.
On arriving at the Great Oak Tree, Willow glanced down and noticed that there, swirling around amongst the blues and greens that drifted across the smooth, cool surface of the doorknob, something else was moving! Blending in beautifully with the colours, Willow saw an emerging shape of what appeared to be exactly the butterfly she had just met! Not for the first time, Willow resolved to ask Jay about this beautiful doorknob.
Pushing open the door, Willow stepped into Jay’s pretty little home.
“Hello, Willow! Lovely to see you, dear!”
“Lovely to see you too, Jay! I have had the most interesting day today…”
“Really? What have you been up to?”Leaning against the wall, Willow tilted her head back and stared up at the ceiling for a moment before she answered:
“Well, at first I was sad. I have had a terrible breakup with my friend, Jay!” she sighed.
“So sorry to hear that, Willow. Never mind dear, this too shall pass!”
“What will pass, Jay?”
“This terrible feeling you are experiencing. It will pass, Willow. Things will move on. I can promise you that.”
Willow settled down on the stool beside Jay’s desk, and stared ahead of her, talking to Jay of all she had seen and heard that day.
“I was lying in the long grass, and a ladybird appeared. It spoke to me! Things like that always happen to me when I visit the meadow, Jay. It is so strange – but at the same time, it seems very normal, in an odd way.”
“Yes, certainly, strange things do happen to you in the meadow, Willow. You are very lucky! Don’t question it – it’s all just as it should be.”
When Willow had finished telling Jay about the butterfly, she was surprised to see Jay was smiling, and nodding her head.
“Did you understand what the butterfly explained to you,Willow?”
“Well, sort of…but…”
“All these little creatures appeared with messages for you, Willow. The ladybird showed you how something beautiful can be right beside you, even if you cannot see, or hear it immediately. The grasshopper explained that very clearly to you, I think, advising you to always be aware of things you cannot see, or hear.”
“The butterfly had more to say, though. Did you hear it?”
“Umm…I heard that while we spoke the same language, we might be unable to understand each other when we talked about ourselves…”
“Well, quite, Willow! You see, it’s like you and your friend. You loved each other – but, although you speak the same language, you have found yourselves unable to understand each other at all.”
“Yes.” Willow could see this now, and nodded.
“Never mind, Willow, this too shall pass. You will feel differently about it all one day – and then, perhaps, you might be friends again. Perhaps even better friends than you were before.”
Willow rather doubted the latter, but was very glad to hear that how she felt would pass! Already, she was feeling differently about it.
“It’s interesting – all that I heard and learned, just lying in the long grass!”
Jay smiled. “Lying in the long grass, Willow, is often the very best way to ever be able to hear anything!”
It had been a very thought provoking day, but, on leaving Jay’s tree, Willow walked back home with a much lighter step.
“I bought you a new jumper, today, Willow. It’s on your bed.” her mother called, as Willow passed the big brown door with it’s DO NOT DISTURB sign on it.
On entering her room, Willow raced over to her bed, and gasped!!
There, laid out across her pillow, was the lightest, soft blue jumper, with a beautiful blue and green butterfly embroidered across the front of it.