STORIES OF WILLOW contd…

Sparkle with heaven  - angels Photo

LOVED

Slamming her bedroom door shut behind her, Willow ran across the room and pulled her little white dressing table towards the door.  Pushing it up against the door handle in order to disable it from turning, Willow was still unsure of her door being secure.  In the corner of her room stood a heavy, dark brown chest that had been given to Willow by her grandmother  This should do it.  Leaning all her weight against this chest, Willow pushed it with her whole body, until it came to rest against the legs of the dressing table.  Finally satisfied that she was secure, Willow threw herself down on her bed and waited for the knocking to start.

Knock, knock, knock, knock…

“WILLOW!!!” came the cry!

Knock, knock, knock, knock…

“WILLOW, you are a DREADFUL child! Let me IN!!”

Knock, knock, knock, knock…“WILLOW!!”

Despite her calling, her rattling the handle, hammering and occasionally kicking on the wood, the door remained secure.

Fixing her eyes on the ceiling, Willow waited in silence for peace to descend. Half an hour later, all was quiet.

Slowly, Willow arose from her bed, restored her pretty, white dressing table, and the big, dark chest, back to their rightful positions in her room.  Quietly, opening her door very softly, Willow crept across the landing towards the door with the big, boldly written DO NOT DISTURB notice on it.

The door was slightly ajar – enough for Willow to see her lying there on her bed, exhausted by her demons, fast asleep, and utterly unaware of Willow.

Shaking her head, Willow tip-toed past the door and headed down the stairs and out of the house, heading towards the fields and woods that lay just a little way further along the road.

Pulling her purple hoody tightly up against her, Willow felt as though she were somehow quite undressed.  Although the sun was shining, and there was not a single cloud in the sky, nothing felt warm, nothing felt secure, and most disturbingly, the ground appeared to be undulating beneath her feet.

This is most strange! thought Willow.  I will go to the meadow – I’m sure I will feel much better there.

Willow arrived at her beloved meadow, and was numbed by what she found there today.

Standing before what was usually a bright, colourful, plume of light, Willow was saddened to see a mere trickle of water where the fountain so often stood.  Faintly, shining in the watery afternoon sun, the fountain was barely there at all.

Glancing towards the borders of the meadow, Willow was further dissapointed to notice that the stream was shallow, with none of those beautiful, sparkling golden lights dancing across its surface today, at all.

Looking up into the trees, Willow could neither see, nor hear, any of the birds singing to each other across the branches .

How was this possible?  How was it possible for the meadow to appear so bleak, so lifeless, so utterly without joy.

“Come on, Willow.  Someone is waiting for you!”

Grateful to turn and find Dog standing just behind her, Willow nodded, and followed him back out of the meadow to the Great Oak Tree, and Jay.

Hardly noticing the door handle today at all, Willow placed her hand on its cool, smooth surface, and pushed the door open, stepping eagerly into Jay’s beautiful home.

A little lamp was lit beside where she sat, and, without waiting for invitation, Willow walked straight over to the desk where Jay was sitting, and burst into tears.

“Goodness, Willow!  Now, what can possibly be so terrible, as to have caused you to feel this way?  Has something happened?”

“That’s just it, Jay.  Nothing has happened.  It’s always just the very same thing.  She gets better – she gets worse – she gets better again – and then we are right back where we always were.  I don’t feel well, Jay.  I don’t feel as though I can even talk about it.”

After a very brief moment of silence, Jay rose to her feet.  Switching off the lamp at her desk, Jay gestured for Willow to follow her. ” Come, Willow.  Come to the rug at the foot of my bed.  I think a little nap might do you the world of good.”

Gratefully sinking deeply into the soft, pure white rug that lay at the foot of Jay’s bed, Willow just heard herself saying:  “But the meadow Jay…even the meadow was bleak and dull and…” when her eyes closed, and Willow felt herself drifting weightlessly off to a place far, far from here…

Enfolded in what felt like the softest, downy feathers on earth, and carried on the air of her very own breath, Willow found herself floating across a landscape of voices…

“WILLOW!!  WILLOW!!” she called!  Willow turned away from the voice and spiralled down a tunnel of white, further and further away from the sound of her voice. 

Most astonishingly, Willow found herself plunging towards what appeared to be a desert, far down below her.  Yes, it was a desert, across which loped a tall, light, golden brown camel!

Landing right in front of the camel, Willow sat up and gazed into the soft, gentle face of this gangly, but rather beautiful creature who was chewing on his fleshy brown lip, and slowly opening and closing his long, long dark eyelashes.

“Hello, Camel! We have met before.”  Willow smiled.  Truthfully, she was rather pleased to see him here, in this very strange, extremely unreal landscape.

“Willow, I have come here to speak to you.  Listen to me.”

The camel spoke very, very slowly indeed.  He had a full, deep, and very rich voice.

“Yes, Camel.  I shall listen.”

“Willow, it is no good feeling the burden of what you are experiencing through her.  Try to let it go.”

You can talk of burdens, Camel!” cried Willow.  “You carry a HUGE burden on your back wherever you go!”

” I carry what is mine, Willow.  What you are carrying is not yours to carry.  Put it down Willow.  Put it down.”

With his very words, Willow felt herself lifted from below the camel’s gaze, and spun back up into the spiral of white that swirled around them both.

“Goodbye, Camel!” she called.  “I shall miss you!”

Now, drifting again across the feathery, soft white around her, to her complete surprise Willow found herself drifting past Butterfly along the way.

Fluttering her wings, Butterfly paused for a moment on Willow’s shoulder.  It seemed she too had something to say to Willow.

“Learn how it feels to be YOU, Willow!  Enjoy being YOU!  Don’t worry if you can’t understand the language of others.  Just be sure you understand your own!”

“Butterfly!! Hey, WAIT!!  Wait…where are you going?”

Fluttering her wings even faster, clearly enjoying being swept along in the white, Butterfly vanished up into a cloud, right before Willow’s eyes!

Goodness, what was THAT?  A tiny little ladybird jumped off Willow’s arm and spun out into the white after Butterfly!  Was she there all along, too?

“Just remember, Willow, if you don’t see it, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there!”

GRASSHOPPER!  Such a bright, fresh green against the white, Grasshopper danced from white cloud, to white cloud before Willow’s gaze.

“Oh, Grasshopper, I remember your telling me this before!  But how…how do I use that knowledge when it comes to her – when it comes to losing my best friend – when it comes to life?”cried Willow.

“Willow – because you can’t see, or understand why something happens, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a very good reason for it.  It may just be that there is something you simply can’t see.  Yet.”

With that, Grasshopper jumped up and disappeared into the white that surrounded them.

Floating…floating…drifting…Willow sank deeper and deeper into the rug, until finally, it was all quiet.  Finally, the voices stopped.  Finally, all was calm.

“Are you feeling better now, dear?” Leaning over Willow, Jay was smiling the warmest smile Will had ever seen her smile.

“Yes,Jay, I do.  Jay, I went to this very strange place in your rug!  I saw the Camel, and Butterfly, the Grasshopper – even Ladybird flew past!  All my dearest friends were somehow there – deep inside your rug!”

“Willow, wherever you go in life, these friends of yours will be there for you.  You wont have to look far to find them.”

I wont always have your beautiful rug, though Jay.  Will I?”

“Oh yes, Willow, you will.  That is what I want to tell you, dear.  My beautiful white rug will always be there.  Remember what you have learned. Because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.  Any time you would like to visit me, or any of your friends, just close your eyes and imagine my rug wrapped around you.”

Something in Jay’s voice puzzled Willow a little, but she was not quite sure what it was.  Slowly, she rose to her feet, strangely realising that if Jay were the kind of person one would hug, she would have hugged her, right there and then.  But Jay wasn’t like that, and in truth, neither was Willow.

“Well, Jay, I can always come and visit you here, in your beautiful Oak Tree.”

“You can always go to the meadow, Willow.  You can always visit your fountain.  It’s yours.  While it may be hard to see sometimes, it will never truly go away.”

The fountain!  Yes, of course!  I should go to the fountain immediately, while it is still light, and see if it is back! 

“I’d better go, Jay!  I want to see if the fountain is back again!  I must hurry while it is still light!”

It was then that the most unusual thing happened. As Willow reached the door, she called back over her shoulder to Jay:

Thank you so much, Jay!  It was wonderful to lie in your rug today!  I feel so very much better!  Goodbye, Jay!”

“Goodbye, Willow.  I love you.”

Stopping at the door, Willow turned back to gaze at her darling Jay in awe.

I love you Willow.  You will be alright, you know.  You will be alright.”

Slightly stunned be the intensity with which Jay had spoken, and somewhat in awe of the words Jay had used, Willow almost whispered her reply:

“I love you too, Jay.  Goodbye.”

Feeling more than a little strange, Willow placed her hand on the doorknob and noticed that soft, white clouds were swirling across its broad, smooth surface. Jay never says she loves me, thought Willow.  I wonder why she is saying it now.

On reaching the meadow, Willow laughed out aloud as Dog raced up to the huge plume of water that was the fountain!  Jumping up to catch drops of water in his mouth, Dog barked at the slowly sinking sun, shaking himself vigorously over and over again.  Willow saw that the stream was full too, and smiled at the golden droplets of light that danced across its surface.  Everything was just as it should be in the world again!

“Dog, let’s go back and tell Jay that everything is alright again!”

Dog barked, but didn’t move from the fountain.

Leaving him behind her, Willow raced back to the Great Oak Tree to tell Jay the good news! As she approached the tree, Willow saw that the door was open.

“Jay?  Jay, where are you?” she called.

Stepping through Jay’s beautiful little house, Willow noticed that no lights were on, and no soft, white rug lay at the foot of Jay’s bed.

How she knew it, she was never quite sure.  But in those moments, Willow knew that Jay had gone.

Willow didn’t know how long she lay there.  However long it was, it was dark, and the sky was full of stars when she finally rose to her feet, and walked slowly out of the house.  Placing her hand on the shiny doorknob for the very last time, Willow saw, clearly written in golden letters across the broad, smooth surface of that magical doorknob, the words:

I LOVE YOU, WILLOW.  I LOVE YOU.

Advertisements

STORIES OF WILLOW contd…

Image

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.

“Hello, Willow!”

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. 

“Hello, Ladybird!” 

“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.

“Hello, Butterfly!”

“Hello, Willow!”

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.”

“Yes…”

“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.

“Thank you!”

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STORIES OF WILLOW contd….

Image

LOST AND FOUND

It had been, thought Willow, the most perfect, the most beautiful egg in the whole, wide world.  There would never be another egg like it.

Just large enough to fill her hand, this exquisite, golden egg shone so brightly, it would light up the darkest corner of any room.  Whenever Willow felt sad, or lonely, or even just a little bit restless, she would go to a small wooden box, which she kept hidden in her wardrobe.  Even with the lid of the box tightly closed, golden strands of light shone out to her, emitting from within the box.  Withdrawing the golden egg from its nest of straw, Willow would always smile as she held the egg tightly in her hand.  Immediately, feeling the warm, golden glow in the palm of her hand, Willow felt comforted, safe, and not at all alone.

It wasn’t that hard to understand.  Aside from being so very beautiful, the golden egg shone with a warm, comforting glow that both reassured, and offered affirmations to Willow, for all that she held most dear.  How was this possible, one might ask – given that this egg was an inanimate object d’art.  Well, it was simple.  Willow found she could talk to the egg about all sorts of things.  Not only could she talk to it, but often, when discussing things of great importance with the egg, Willow felt as though she had received a reply.  Not that she heard a “voice” or anything!  Everyone knows, an egg, even a golden egg, does not have an actual “voice”.  Yet, Willow could hear answers to many of her questions, coming to her from somewhere deep within the egg.  Sometimes, it even felt like more of a conversation, as she sat with the egg in her hand, or placed in its nest, on the window ledge in front of her.  Chatting away to the egg about things that occupied her mind, or simply sharing things that drew her interest, Willow often felt as though she were in engaged in an easy, warm and often stimulating dialogue with the golden egg.

Not only when she was sad – when she was happy, too, Willow loved to play with the golden egg.  She particularly loved to sit in her pretty, green rocking chair, gazing out of the window towards the meadow, rolling the egg across her fingers, swapping it from hand to hand.

The most wonderful things about the egg, was that you could open it!  If you unscrewed it very carefully indeed, you could open the egg to reveal an inner lining of the purest, smoothest, gold.  Devoid of content, yet filled with golden light, Willow often wondered what secrets this egg held.

Thinking back on where she had found it, Willow remembered that warm, sunny Sunday morning, on which the egg had revealed itself to her.  It had happened like this:

Visiting the meadow, Willow had rested beside the small, clear stream that ran across the borders of the meadow, and out into the woodland surrounding it.  Lying on her tummy, gazing into the stream in search of fish, or frogs, or any of the  wonders that swam there, Willow had noticed something glinting from beneath the surface of the water.  Reaching into the stream towards a golden light, her fingers had rested on something cool, and smooth.  Withdrawing her hand from the water, Willow had marvelled at the golden egg that she now held firmly within her grasp!  It fitted so perfectly in her hand – as though it belonged there.

Could I really have found such a treasure, she wondered.  Could this beautiful, golden treasure truly have revealed itself for me to have and hold?  Not certain she was worthy, but resolved to keep the golden egg a secret from all but one, Willow had raced immediately to the Great Oak Tree, to show her prize to Jay.

“This is a very splendid egg, Willow!  Do look after it dear, it has a lot to show you.”

“A lot to show me?  It’s beautiful, but it’s only an egg, Jay.”

Have you looked inside it, Willow?”  Jay smiled.

“You can open it, Jay, but there is nothing inside it!”

Carefully unscrewing the egg, Willow opened it up, and presented it for Jay to inspect.

“Look, it’s quite empty!”

“Is it dear.  Are you quite sure?  Never mind, close it carefully up again, and keep it somewhere very safe.”

Which, on reflection, is exactly what Willow had done.  On returning home, Willow had found a pretty little wooden box, that she remembered her mother giving her years ago.  Filling it with loose straw she had found in an old tomato box Willow had seen in the garage, Willow created a lovely nest for the egg to nestle in.  Having settled it safely within its box, Willow had hidden the egg, carefully, in her wardrobe.  There, it had sat safely, for many years.

Until today.

Today, on opening the box, Willow had been met with an empty nest.  Only the perfectly egg-shaped indentation in the straw indicated that the egg had ever been there at all.

Rocking backwards and forwards in her chair, Willow gazed out of the window blindly, seeing nothing, not even the sun, or the woodland across the fields.  Overwhelmed by the greatest sense of loss, Willow found herself hardly able to move.  The sun beckoned, the meadow called, yet all Willow was able to do was stare out of the window, willing the egg to return to her.

Who could have taken it?  How else could it have left the box, if someone didn’t take it?

Filled with dread, Willow got up slowly from the chair, walked out of her room, and across the hall, to the closed door with the big DO NOT DISTURB sign on it.

“I need to ask you something!” she called.

“I’m busy.”

“Do you have my golden egg?” she called.

Silence.

“DO YOU HAVE MY GOLDEN EGG?!”

“Don’t shout, dear.  What on earth are you talking about?!”

“My EGG!”  Willow suddenly realised she had kept her egg a secret, and that no one would understand.

“Go away, Willow.  I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.  Go away.”

Running back into her room, Willow grabbed her purple hoody off the back of the rocking chair, and, zipping it up, raced down the stairs and out of the house.

Maybe the egg had gone back where it came from!!

Without pausing to stop at the Great Oak Tree today, Willow tore through the woodland, pushed through the break in the trees, and raced into the  meadow towards the stream!

Flinging herself down on the grass, Willow leaned forward, staring deeply into the clear water below.  A school of tiny, brightly coloured fish flickered past, a small, bright green frog hopped up out of the stream to settle itself in the sun on the boulder beside her.   Above her, a bird was singing in the sunshine, accompanied in turn by another bird, calling from branches across the meadow.  Willow hardly saw, heard, or noticed any of these things.

“I don’t think your egg is in the stream, Willow.”

Spinning around, Willow was pleased to see Dog had followed her here.

“Where is it, Dog?  Where has it gone?”

Lifting his paw, Dog scratched behind his ear, and stared straight ahead of him as though he hadn’t spoken.

“Won’t you look, Dog?  Please look!”

Ambling over to the stream, Dog very obligingly pushed his nose into the stream.  Emerging fairly swiftly, he shook his head vigorously, sending a spray of water around them both.

No egg.

Sitting back on the grass, Willow gazed across the meadow.  The fountain could not be seen.

“No egg, no fountain!  What is happening, Dog?  Why is everything disappearing?”

Slowly lowering himself to the ground, Dog place his head on his paws, and gazed at Willow, quietly, and without comment.

“It shouldn’t matter so much, Dog, it really shouldn’t.  I don’t understand why I feel the way I feel, but it feels as though someone has died!”

Dog pricked up his ears, and wrinkled his nose.

“Without the golden egg, Dog, I feel as though half of me is missing.  I feel as though I have disappeared myself.  I feel as though…as though I am not quite real, somehow.  I feel as though nothing is real…I feel bereft, Dog, in the most terrible way!  Why?  It’s very beautiful, but it’s only an egg after all!”

But Willow knew it was a very special egg, and that such an egg would never be found again.

Dog and Willow lay in the sun for most of the afternoon.  On returning home, Willow stopped at the Great Oak Tree, and entered Jay’s warm, comforting home, to tell her all that had befallen her that day.

“Why don’t you rest for a while, Willow.  You look so tired  Make yourself comfortable in the big, white rug at the foot of my bed.  I shall bring you a cup of tea in a while.”

Gratefully sinking into the soft, comforting embrace of Jay’s beautiful, white rug, Willow found she was able to untangle and un-knot herself almost immediately.  Resting back into the warmth of the rug, she felt  her thoughts begin to flow more freely.  The more she relaxed, the more Willow’s mind became like the stream in the meadow.  Washing over fears, meandering across feelings, slipping through dreams, Willow’s thoughts traveled easily along their journey, to a place of calm.

“What IS this rug, Jay?”  Willow called out sleepily, from beneath a cloud of contentment.

“It’s a rug, dear.  Have a nap.  You will feel so much better!”

It was quite a while later, when, slowly blinking her eyes open, Willow wondered at how peaceful sleep always was in Jay’s beautiful white rug!  No dreams, no thoughts, no fears came to plague Willow when she was wrapped up safely in Jay’s beautiful home.

Willow wondered how long she had been asleep for, and stretched out across the rug.

What was THAT??

Willow felt her palm rest against something smooth, and cool! Grasping it tightly, Willow emerged from Jay’s white rug with the golden egg in her hand.

“It was HERE, Jay!  The egg was here all the time!  How did it get here?”

Jay, a cup of tea in one hand, and a little plate of biscuits in the other, moved across the room towards Willow, smiling.

“Where did you find it, Willow?”

“It was here, in your house, Jay!  All the time!”

“Where in my house, dear?”

Willow paused, as she realised.

“It was in the the safest place I know, Jay.  I found it in your rug!”

Jay seemed un-surprised.  Nodding, she placed WIllow’s cup of tea and the plate of biscuits on the little table beside them, and sat down on the edge of her bed.

“Open your egg, Willow.  Open the egg and see what is inside.”

Gently, carefully, Willow unscrewed the egg, and opened it.

“There’s nothing in here, Jay.  It’s empty.”

“Is it.  Look again, dear.  Look again.”

There she was!  Staring into the smooth, cool, golden surface that lined the egg, Willow saw herself, looking back at her!

“It’s ME, Jay!  I’m inside the egg!!”

“Best be careful, Willow.  Keep her very safe.  You really don’t want to lose her again.”

A little while later, placing it carefully in the pocket of her purple hoody, Willow walked home with the golden egg held safely in her hand.

“I’ll be alright, Dog.  I lost the egg, and I lost myself.  Now that I know I am in there, I will never lose my golden egg again.”

 

Image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STORIES OF WILLOW contd…..

Image

OF CAMELS, AND SISYPHUS IN THE FOUNTAIN

Stretched out across the grass, Willow gazed up at the sun and smiled into the clear, very brightest of bright blue skies!  Sunlight glistened in the fountain before her, and danced across the surface of the stream that ran along the borders of the meadow.  It would have been very easy for her to fall asleep right here, but Willow was wide awake today.  Something about the sun always filled her with energy.  Willow had spent most of the morning chasing her new companion, a handsome, big brown dog, all around the meadow, down to the stream and back up to the fountain again.  Not knowing the dog’s name, Willow simply called him “Dog”, with which he seemed perfectly happy.  Collected from outside of Jay’s giant Oak Tree, Dog usually accompanied Willow to the meadow these days – happy to play in the sunshine, and content to lie beside Willow in silence for as long as she wished to stay there. At this very moment, Dog lay panting gently beside her, half awake, half asleep, and every bit as relaxed as Willow was in the sun.

From experience, Willow knew that Dog could speak.  Unlikely as this was, she knew it to be true.  However, Dog had not spoken to her once, since that very strange and very wonderful day, which was quite a while ago now.  Preferring to bark, chase birds up into the trees, and jump into the stream to chase fish and frogs on very hot days, Dog generally behaved as any good dog normally would. 

Willow had asked Jay if she knew where Dog had come from, but Jay had replied pretty much as Dog had, saying only that he had always been there.  Willow just hadn’t seen him before.  No matter, Willow found herself growing increasingly fond of Dog, and was always happy to have the company on days such as these. Having rested in the sunshine awhile, Willow raised herself up onto her elbows, and, gazing into the fountain, addressed something that was very much on her mind on this day.

“I had some very odd dreams last night, Dog.”

Despite being fairly sure Dog would not answer her, Willow was content just to chat away to her furry, big, brown friend, quite convinced that whether he replied or not, Dog heard and understood her perfectly.

“You won’t believe it!” she continued.  “Of all the strangest things in the world, last night, I dreamed of a camel!!”

Noticeably, Dog pricked up his ears, and turned his head a little more towards her.

It was true.  A really tall, light brown camel, with his two toed feet, and long knobbly legs moving all over the place, this camel had indeed loped his gangly way across the landscape of Willow’s dreams!

“He was rather beautiful, but in a very strange sort of way!  He had the hugest eye’s, and the longest eyelashes I have ever seen!  He walked slowly, Dog, because he had this huge hump on his back!  I wonder why a camel has to carry such a heavy load on his back like that!”

In fact, in her dream, Willow had asked the camel this very question!  The camel had not replied.  Rather, gazing dreamily into the distance, the camel had opened his very large mouth, licked his lips, wrinkled his huge, flat nose, and loped off across the landscape towards something that shimmered in the distance.

“It looked like a lake, Dog!  But it couldn’t have been a lake at all!!  We were in a desert!  It made me rather sad.  In fact, it made me rather want to cry.  He was such a beautiful camel, Dog.  Why, why did he have to carry what he needed on his back like that!  It looked so dreadfully heavy!”

Willow had noticed that Dog had stopped panting.  Was he listening to all that Willow said?  Well, he didn’t answer, and, truth be told, Willow rather wished he would.

“The worst of it was, Dog, that I knew very well that when the camel reached that shimmering light in the distance, there would be nothing there!”

Dog, moving only very slightly indeed, placed a paw on Willow’s hand, and closed his eyes.

Willow thought that she heard that camels needed to carry water, in a hump, on their backs.  She had also heard that this was not true. If she thought carefully about it, she was sure she remembered that camels need to carry their fat on their backs rather than to have fat all over their bodies.  This way, she had heard, camels were able to survive the heat in the desert. Nevertheless, it seemed very sad to Willow that any creature should have to carry what it most needed for survival, on its back – as one might carry a burden.  Why, wondered Willow, should what one most needs in life, be a burden!  Heavy, and not at all easy to travel with, that hump of camels seemed most unfair to Willow.

Turning her eyes back to the sky, and her thoughts away from the camel, Willow released her mind from things she could not understand, and squinted into the sunshine.

“You don’t care about camels, do you Dog!”  Willow laughed, and jumped up.  “I’m going to the fountain for a swim!”

Stripping down to her pink vest, and bright yellow shorts, Willow raced toward the fountain, eager for the water, and keen to dive deep into the cool, swirling light!  After a swim in the fountain, Willow always felt revived, happy, and a great deal more at ease with herself.  Still more than a little perturbed by her dream, Willow knew that all the very odd sadness she felt about the camel, would soon be washed away.

WAIT!!  Stopping short, right at the edge of the fountain, Willow became aware that something was moving  upward, from deep within the water!!  Stepping back, Willow watched as the figure of a man appeared before her.  A very beautiful, tall man, was moving steadily, deliberately, slowly, up through the fountain!!  Having appeared from beneath the water, this man seemed to be pushing something ahead of him, straining as he pushed this object up towards the light.

Dog barked, and Willow spun around to see he was standing right behind her, also watching the man in the fountain.  Most especially, Dog’s eyes appeared to be fixed on the huge boulder-shaped object this man was pushing.  No sooner had he reached the top of the fountain, than the boulder fell from his hands, and back down to the depths below.  The man dived down after it, disappearing immediately from sight.  Within moments, the huge boulder appeared again, pushed up towards the light, by this beautiful, tall man.

Willow and Dog stood and watched this man repeat this action, over and over again, as the sun moved slowly across the sky.  A familiar sadness began to fill Willow’s heart.  Transfixed by what she was seeing, Willow felt tears of frustration fill her eyes, and a strong resistance to what she was seeing bubbled up from somewhere deep inside her belly!

“Oh NO!  Dog, why is he doing this?”cried Willow.  “Dog, this is just like the camel!  The camel carried such a burden on his back, and walked towards what he thought was water…but it was nothing!  Now, this beautiful man….this beautiful man keeps dropping his boulder, and has to keep trying to get it up and out into the light, again, and again!  But it’s useless, Dog!  It is so useless!”

Dog rubbed his chin against Willow’s leg, growling softly.

“NO, Dog!! You need to talk to me!!  Please talk to me, and tell my why he is doing this!  It is so meaningless – so hopeless, Dog!  WHY!! Why does he keep on doing this?”

Dog, licking Willow’s hand, turned and slowly walked away from the fountain, towards the edge of the meadow.

“Where are you going, Dog?  Come back!  Don’t leave me here to watch this man!  I cannot bear it!  It’s making me dizzy! DOG!! Come back!!”

In fact, Willow was feeling quite sick, and increasingly distressed by what she could see.  Standing still, staring intently into the fountain, willing the boulder to reach the top in order for it to be released out into the sky, Willow felt herself utterly exhausted and drained by the toil of this beautiful man.

His toil seemed to endless – so relentless -up, and down, and up, and down, the man and the boulder came and went.  Each time he appeared, the man visibly strained to reach the top of the fountain.  Down the boulder fell, and, no sooner had he vanished after it to the depths of the water, than up they came again.  The boulder first, pushed upwards by this beautiful figure of a man.  Down it fell again…..

Dog was barking frantically now, calling to Willow to come away.  Gratefully, Willow turned her gaze away from the fountain, toward Dog.  Dog was waiting for her – barking, and wagging his tail, he called her to hurry!  Stopping to grab her purple hoody, Willow pulled on her jeans, and, with only the briefest backward glance at the man in the fountain, she raced to the edge of the meadow.  Following Dog out into the surrounding woods, Willow quickly realised that they were making their way toward the giant Oak Tree, and Jay.

“Goodness, gracious me!  Are you alright, Willow?”  Jay, having turned to greet Willow as entered the room, was clearly very alarmed to see tears streaming down Willow’s face.

“You are shaking, Willow.  What on earth has happened to you?”

Settling down on the small stool beside Jay’s desk, Willow reached deep inside herself to find the words with which to explain what she had experienced.  Starting with the camel, Willow found herself increasing distressed as she explained the sadness she had felt watching this camel lope its way across her dreams – laden with the weight of what it needed to survive.

“Why, Jay?  Why does a came have to carry what it needs, as such a heavy burden?”

“This is the way camels are made, dear.” replied Jay.  “Camels are just plain and simply made that way.  They are really splendid creatures, you know, Willow.  Tough, strong, and very able to look after themselves.”

“Hmmmm….” Willow was barely consoled.

“Did the camel look sad to you, Willow?”

Willow thought about this for a moment.  Imaging him licking his big, soft lips, and wrinkling his funny, flat nose, actually made Willow smile a little.  Then, after consideration, she replied.

“Resigned, Jay.  The camel looked resigned to his predicament.”

“Oh yes.”  Gazing ahead of her into space, Jay smiled softly.  “Camels are very accustomed to being the way the are.”

“But, he headed off towards the water, Jay! Only…only it wasn’t water!  There was nothing there!”

Jay paused for a moment before she replied.

“Willow, did you see the water, or did the camel see it?”

“Ummmmm….well, I saw it….but the camel was walking towards it…”

“Do you really think the camel is not accustomed to finding that there is actually nothing there, Willow?”

“Then why walk there, Jay?  Why make all that effort at all?”

“That is a good question, Willow.  I don’t have an answer to that.  However, please rest assured, there are many such illusions in a desert such as the one you describe, Willow.  I am very certain that your camel was well accustomed to seeing such things, only to discover those things aren’t really there at all.”

“Yes…but…”

“It was his choice, Willow, to walk toward that illusion in the sand.  His choice.  The camel is a noble, stately creature.  You really should respect his choices.”

Unconvinced, but feeling a little calmer about the camel in her dreams, Willow turned her thoughts towards the fountain:

“But then, then the man, Jay! This beautiful, strong, handsome man – endlessly pushing this boulder up the fountain, and getting nowhere! WHY?  Why did he keep on doing this, Jay?  It was so pointless….”

Jay paused for quite a while, before answering:

“I’m sorry to say this, dear, but I’m afraid futility and absurdity play a part in all our lives.  You are a little young to know this fully yet, but it’s nothing to worry about.  It’s just part of being human.  Now, don’t worry yourself with it too much, Willow.”

Willow was worried.  Very worried.  If life was full of pointless, futile exercises then what lay in store for her, she wondered.  Picturing the man she had seen in the fountain, Willow sighed a very deep sigh.

“Perhaps you might think about it this way, Willow. Perhaps you might think about what is in the mind of the man, as he turns to go back down again, for the boulder….”

Willow frowned, puzzled and bewildered by this thought.

“I can’t get him out of my mind, Jay.  Every time I close my eyes, I see this man…”

Jay, turning to face Willow directly, looked deeply into her wide, tearful eyes, and replied:

“ Mind over matter, Willow.  Dear, try to change your mind about what you see, when you see this man. Think, rather, of how this man, despite the seeming futility of his task, returns to it. Consider what may be in his mind, or in his heart, in the moment of his returning down to retrieve the boulder.  In this way, rather than seeing him as “saddened” by the frustration of his task, change your mind, and see him as “happy” to continue. Try it, dear, just try it,and see what happens.”

None of this made any sense to Willow at all.  It was sad, no matter which way she looked at it.

“There are things about the figure in the fountain that you cannot possibly know, Willow.  What you are seeing, is the utter nonsense in what he appears to be doing.  But, what you don’t see, is what is truly in his heart.  Go back to the the fountain, Willow – try to see if you can see him differently.  I am fairly certain you will.”

“But…how can I see this man as “happy” in any way?  How?

“Willow, perhaps this  man realises the futility of his task.  Perhaps, he accepts it.  Perhaps, in acknowledging, and not denying the frustration of his task, it makes the futility of it a little less distressing for him, than it appears to you.”

Jay often said things that made very little sense to Willow.  This was one of those times.  However, experience told Willow that seeing things the way Jay suggested you see them, always made them better.

What was at the bottom of the fountain, wondered Willow. Indeed, where did it come from at all? Most fountains had a visible source from whence they came. When the fountain was visible to Willow, it was just there. Rising from the earth as though by magic, the fountain revealed nothing of where it sprang from. Where did it go when it wasn’t there, wondered Willow. How big was the fountain, wondered Willow. Big enough to contain a whole man, and his boulder, yet not too big for her to jump safely into, whenever she wanted a swim. The dimensions of the fountain were a mystery to Willow. Right now, what concerned Willow most, was where did the boulder fall to when it fell?

Clear that she would receive no direct answer to her questions, Willow was impatient to try what Jay had asked of her. Whatever the tenuous reality of the fountain actually was, or wasn’t, Willow had been given a suggestion by Jay, and she needed to follow through on it. 

“I shall go right now then, Jay.  I shall try to see the man and his boulder differently.”

Heading slowly back to the meadow, Willow secretly hoped that the man would no longer be there.  Either that, or, perhaps he would be sitting happily in the dusk, on the grass beside the fountain, with the big boulder on the ground in front of him, happily watching the sun, as it set behind the forest that surrounded the meadow.  Willow thought she would hug him, if she saw that, but she rather doubted that she would.  Dog padded along beside her, and Willow was very glad of his company.

As they approached the fountain, Willow could immediately see that the man continued his task, just in the way he had been doing when last she had seen him.  Finding herself a nice, smooth patch of thick, dark green grass, Willow sat down to consider a task of her own.  The task of placing her mind over the  matter of what she saw.

Closing her eyes tightly, Willow re-opened them slowly, and gazed at this beautiful man.  Now, rather than seeing him as tormented, Willow began to see him as a man, not struggling with what he was doing, but a man who fully accepted the futility of his situation, and who showed not visible signs of distress, despite the apparent melancholy of his task.

“Dog!  The man is fading!!  I can hardly see him anymore, Dog!  Is it over?  It is really over, now?”

“In your ability to think over and above what you saw, Willow, you released your vision of this man.  In ceasing your own struggle against futility, you set yourself free!”

Spinning around towards the voice she had heard, all Willow could see was Dog, his head resting on both his front paws, and his eyes blinking sleepily into the fading sun.

“Did you speak to me, Dog?  Are you speaking to me again?”

He wont answer me, smiled Willow.  He is never going to answer me, on demand!  Goodness, what a challenging day this had been!  Rising to leave, Willow whistled for Dog to follow her, and headed off out of the meadow, keen to be home before dark.

Stooping over to pick up a piece of rubbish someone had carelessly left on the grass, Willow gasped at what she saw!  There, clearly depicted on a small, beige box, stood the very camel Willow had seen in her dreams.

 

 

STORIES OF WILLOW contd….

Image

OF RAINBOWS, AND POTS OF GOLD.

It was a very soggy day.  There could be no denying it – today was a really horrible day!  Rocking backwards and forwards in her little green rocking chair, Willow gazed wistfully out of the window, staring into the dark sky.  It was a sky filled with unrelenting rain.

All that week, coming home from school had been something of an adventure.  Disembarking from their bus, Willow and her friends had chased each other home along country lanes, splashing each other by stamping in puddles of water all the way!  Arriving home, muddy and wet, Willow had rushed upstairs as fast as she could, wrapped herself in her dressing gown, and sat in her rocking chair, watching the rain stream down her window pane, willing for it to stop.  She had done this all week, just as she was doing now.

Today, not only was it raining, but it was very quiet in the house.  Willow had already knocked on the door of her room, to no avail.  She hated it when it was like that.  It was so quiet – it was though no one were there at all.  But she was there.  There, but not willing to communicate.  Willow knew that the whole day would pass without sight nor sound of her.  Willow, knowing that this is how today would be, felt herself become increasingly restless.

“Rise above it, dear! It’s only weather!  We need a little weather every now and again!”

Closing her eyes, Willow could hear Jay’s encouraging words. Rise above it!  It was only the weather after all.  Without the rain, how would the grass be green, how would the flowers grow.  The earth needed water just as we do, thought Willow.

Slipping off the rocking chair, Willow ran to her cupboard and pulled out her favorite, brightest yellow Wellington Boots.  Zipping up her hoody, Willow climbed into her big, clear, plastic raincoat, pulled it snugly over everything else she was wearing, and tied the belt tightly, several times around her waist.  Finally, lifting the plastic hood over her purple hoody below, Willow was ready to leave the house.

“I’m going out!”  Willow called to the closed door, and to whatever was going on behind it.

“You’ll get wet.”

“I’ll be fine!”

I’ll get wet, she says!  Running down the stairs, Willow wondered at the purpose in stating something so obvious. Well, that was her, thought Willow.  Her mother had a habit of stating the very obvious, as though it were of any importance.

Water splashed against Willow’s cheeks, and she closed her eyes against the driving rain.  This was not going to be as much fun as she had thought it might be.  Avoiding pools of water, Willow stepped carefully down the driveway and out towards the trees.

Goodness, it all looked so dark!  The woodland surrounding the meadow, usually alight with multi coloured greens of various deciduous and evergreen trees, was now so dark it seemed almost black!  Common Beech and Alder trees sagged with the weight of the water they held in their branches, and, even the grandest of the toughest old Hornbeams appeared to lean away from the insistence of this rain.  On arriving at the Oak Tree, Willow found that today, patterns on the doorknob swirled, not with clouds, but with waves, above which no sun could be seen.  Deepest, darkest, jade-green, the doorknob looked very beautiful, but Willow drew no comfort from it today.

“It’s dreadful out there, Jay!” Willow complained.  “Really, it’s horrible! I don’t know when this rain will ever stop!”

Looking up from her book, Jay smiled at Willow who, standing in the doorway, was dripping water from her raincoat onto the floor.

“It will stop when it’s good and ready.  Try not to let it bother you so, Willow.  It’s only rain.”

Willow paused.  She wasn’t entirely sure why it bothered her so, but it did.  Willow gazed across the room at Jay.  I should take my raincoat off, she thought.  But instead, she stood there – motionless -watching Jay.  Colourful, in her soft, coral pink jumper, Jay lifted a hand, pushing a stray strand of silver back into the wooden clasp that held her hair in place.  A slim band of gold shone on Jay’s finger.  Willow had once asked her where the ring had come from.  Jay had simply replied that it had come to her when most she had needed it.  Jay was like that.  Her answer’s to most questions very often only led to further questions.

“Would you like me to read to you?  It’s a very serious book indeed, but I would be more than willing to share some of it with you, if you like.”

“No thanks, Jay.  I think I’m going to the meadow now.  I want to see that everything is as it should be there.”

“I’m sure all will be as it should be, Willow.  By all means, do go, and have a lovely time.  It’s still quite early after all.  I don’t think it will rain all day.”

Willow didn’t move.

“Willow, are you alright?  You don’t look quite yourself today.”

Now to tell the truth, Willow didn’t feel quite herself.  Usually alight with energy, full of laughter, always playful, today, Willow felt dark, like the trees around the meadow.  Today, she felt the weight of the rain seeping n through her raincoat, and with that, she felt a heaviness in her whole body.  Unable to explain it, now painfully aware of the pool of water she was making on Jay’s floor, Willow turned to go.

“I’m fine, Jay.  I will see you later on my way home.”

“Rise above it, dear.  Try not to let the rain get under your skin.”

Heading out through the break in the trees, Willow felt branches drag across her hands in a way she hadn’t felt them do before.  Was she ill, she wondered.  No, Willow knew she wasn’t ill.  This was different.  This was altogether something else.

Where was the fountain?  Well, while there was no fountain today, she was not that surprised.  Willow couldn’t always see the fountain.  In fact, feeling the way she did today, Willow would have been surprised had it been there at all.  In fact, mused Willow, perhaps it didn’t really exist after all.

Still on the edge of the meadow, Willow found herself a fairly well sheltered boulder situated beneath a large, very gnarled, old Hornbeam tree.  Sitting down, Willow stared out across the meadow, allowing her thoughts to fall, like the rain.  Not even sure of what she was thinking exactly, unable to define her sentiments, dissatisfied with any thought onto which she might grasp, Willow allowed her mind to wander, and began to imagine strange things.

First of all, she imagined her raincoat sitting there on this very boulder, but without her in it. How funny it looked…a clear piece of plastic, sitting there outlining her shape, but empty.  There on the ground in front of it, stood a pair of bright yellow boots!  Empty, and filling up with rain!

Where am I, she wondered.  Where have I gone?

Willow felt herself drifting, out across the meadow towards the stream.  Full, and appearing more like a river than stream, water flowed swiftly over boulders and small rocks, alive with raindrops that danced across it’s surface.  Suddenly, a bright green fish shop up into the air, turned a somersault, dropped back down under the water and disappeared!!

“Rise above it, Willow!”

Did the fish say that?? No, fish don’t talk!  Fish don’t jump up out of streams, shouting messages to you!  What is happening to me, wondered Willow! 

Glancing back towards her boulder, Willow saw that the empty raincoat and  yellow boots remained just where she had left them.

“Rise above it, Willow!”

What was that??  Turning her gaze back towards the stream, Willow saw a bird there, staring right back at her.  Buffeted by the rain, and clinging to strands of weeds lining the banks of the stream, the bird appeared to be repeating itself!

“Rise above it, Willow!” it called.  Then, ruffling it grey and black feathers, the bird rose into the sky, flashing a bright yellow belly, and puffing its white cheeks as it flew off into the rain!

This is too much, thought Willow.  Now I am hearing things!  Everything is dark, everything feels strange!  Everything IS strange! It’s a jolly good thing the fountain isn’t here, she thought.  I might dive into it, and hope never to come back!

Aware of how silly she sounded, yet quite unable to smile at herself, Willow drifted back to join her raincoat on the boulder.  Squishing her feet into wet boots, she wondered at the audacity of those bright, yellow boots!!  How dare they be so bright, so cheerful, she wondered, when I feel so dull, so dark, so listless, and so…so grey

Even in her current state of mind, Willow was curious about how she felt, and why this might be. You might well wonder too, dear reader, should you find yourself feeling the way Willow felt this day.  Do I really have lead flowing through my veins, she wondered.  Am I really so heavy?  Perhaps this rain has truly melted my brain.  Feeling as soggy as the day itself, Willow found herself wanting to shout at the sky!  I never feel this way! Why do I feel this way today?

“You are only a child!  You know nothing of life.  DO grow up child!  It is extremely irritating now, but perhaps…perhaps one day when you are grown up, we might have something to say to each other.”

I’m allowed to be a child, thought Willow.  Jay never says things like that to me!

Hearing that voice in her mind, had made Willow feel very cross indeed.  I think I hate her, she decided.

As the sun climbed higher into the sky, so Willow’s thoughts fell deeper and deeper into the ground below her.  Oh, have pity on her, reader. This is not a nice way to feel at all.  Nothing made sense, nothing was comfortable, even her skin didn’t feel right: it didn’t seem to fit her properly somehow.  How do I rise above this feeling, wondered Willow, gazing up into the sky and rather wishing that the talking bird might return.

“It’s no good at all, thinking and feeling like this, Willow.  Really, you must try to rise above it!”

Turning to see if Jay were behind her, Willow saw that a large, brown dog had wandered into the meadow.  Sitting behind her, it appeared to Willow as though the dog were speaking to her!  Dogs don’t speak either, thought Willow.  But, not really caring anymore, Willow resigned herself to the total improbability of talking creatures.  Rather glad of the company, Willow patted the boulder, calling this dog to  her side.

Placing it’s head in her lap, the dog sat quietly for a while until, finally, it continued.  “We all have bad days, Willow.  Just remember, the sun is still there – just behind the clouds! Look!”

Willow looked again at the sky!  It was true!!  Just there, peeping out from behind the clouds, bright, silvery rays of light could now be seen.  The dark grey clouds were moving away into the distance, taking with them, the rain!  Jumping to her feet, Willow raced towards the middle of the meadow, and, throwing her head back, stood there, staring up into the sky.  The dog wandered off down to the stream, stopping there to stare intently into the water.  Perhaps it was speaking to a fish, thought Willow, laughing for the first time in a few days.  On hearing sounds in the trees, Willow looked up into the branches and saw that the very bird who had spoken to her earlier was there, chatting away to other birds amongst the raindrops that glistened on the leaves, and lined the branches of the tree.

Slowly, emerging trough the misty sky across the meadow, broad bands of colour began to appear as if by magic.  Reds, pinks, oranges, yellows, purples, greens and blues began to merge, soften and form themselves into a bright, distinctive arc across the sky.  The sun was out now, and a rainbow shone in a tall, wide band of multi-coloured light!

Wait!!  Suddenly, Willow could see the fountain now, sparkling in reflected light from the rainbow, throwing off a multitude of little rainbows of its own!  Willow couldn’t remember when last she had seen the fountain looking so pretty!  Why hadn’t I seen it before, she wondered.  Where did it spring from?  These were questions Willow had often pondered, but, above all, Willow was simply happy to be seeing the fountain now.

The entire meadow glistened in the sunshine.  Following the rain, everything appeared fresher, brighter and lighter than before.  Held within the arc of such a beautiful rainbow, the meadow was adorned with a multitude of smaller rainbows, dancing in the fountain and bouncing off the stream.  The meadow shone with blades of grass and leaves, alight with golden raindrops, twinkling in the sunshine.

What was it Willow had heard about rainbow?  Oh yes, she had heard that if you were fast enough to reach the foot of a rainbow before it vanished, you might well be lucky enough to find a pot of gold there.  Already feelings so much better, Willow decided that she had to try!

Walking swiftly towards the colourful bow, Willow swiftly realised this was not going to be possible.  The rainbow appeared to be just as she had been feeling: there, but not there.  Visible, but not tangible, the rainbow remained constantly, teasingly, just out of Willow’s reach!  Was it merely an illusion, she wondered.  A tick of light, perhaps.  Were WE merely an illusion, merely a trick in some great mind, she wondered.  Pausing to reflect further on all this, Willow began to trace the arc of the rainbow from it’s beginning to it’s destination in her mind.

Then she saw it!!  From where she was standing, it seemed to Willow that the rainbow arched over the meadow, and landed somewhere in the woodland beyond.  Could it possibly be that this rainbow ended directly at the foot of the Oak Tree?!

Turning from the meadow, Willow raced back out through the gap in the trees, heading for the Oak Tree, and Jay.  On reaching her door, Willow gasped!! Not only had the rainbow seem to have ended here, it appeared to have ended in the doorknob itself!!  Ablaze with all the colours of the rainbow, the doorknob glistened and gleamed in the sunlight!  Of course, she thought! THIS is my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!  This has always been my pot of gold!  Right here! I just hadn’t seen it quite this way before!

Almost afraid to touch it, Willow lightly placed her hand on the rainbow, and turned the doorknob carefully and almost reverently, as though attempting not to disturb it.

On entering the room, Willow was met with a cheerful smile from Jay, and an offer of a nice cup of tea!  She could even have sugar, if she so wished, Jay told her, because today was just that sort of day!  There were certain days on which one was almost duty bound to just relax and do some things one normally wouldn’t do!  Sweet tea, perhaps even a biscuit, might just be a couple of those very things, said Jay.

Jay walked into the kitchen, filled her small copper kettle, and placed it onto the stove.  “Oh, and Willow, be a dear and do take a look into the empty flowerpot on my bookshelf.  There is something in there I would very much like you to have.” Jay called.

Willow walked across to the shelf above Jay’s small desk, and reached up for the little blue flowerpot Jay always had there.  Sitting on the edge of Jay’s round bed, Willow slipped her hand carefully into the flowerpot.  Immediately feeling someting round, and smooth and cool beneath her fingertips, Willow withdrew gold from the pot!

“Your ring!”

“Yes, Willow, my ring. I know you find it very pretty.  I have no further use for it at all, and, if you would care to, I would very much like you to have it.”

“Oh, I love your ring, Jay!  Thank you, Thank you!” Willow jumped up from the bed and rushed over to Jay to thank her with a hug.  Not being a lady of demonstrative sentiment, Jay warned Willow to be wary of the kettle, and gently advised her to step back from the stove.

“It will be far too big for you now, of course.  Perhaps you might keep it somewhere safe in the meantime.” Jay turned her attention to making the tea.

“I shall wear it on my chain, Jay. Until it fits my hand, I shall wear it around my neck – today, and every single day!” declared Willow, immediately securing the ring to the pretty, gold chain she always wore.

“That’s a good idea, Willow.  Perhaps you don’t need to wear it every single day though.  Why not keep it somewhere safe?”

Willow nodded, but she was still fairly confident she would wear the ring at all times.

“Save it for a rainy day, Willow.”  It was as though Jay had read Willow’s thoughts. ” A rainy day, just as today has been.  It might cheer you up a bit!”

Willow was sure it would.

Having spoken to Jay of all she had been feeling that day, of talking fish, of talking birds and of talking dogs, Willow told Jay of how the rainbow had ended up in the doorknob on the door to her very own house. Jay didn’t look at all surprised.

“How is it possible, Jay?  What is  your doorknob, really?”

“It’s just a doorknob, dear.” Jay replied.

Willow knew she would receive not further answer than this. One day, one day I shall get a full answer to my question about the doorknob.  Today is not that day.

Too soon, it was time to go.  Having thanked Jay again for the ring, on leaving the Oak Tree, Willow opened the door to find the large, brown dog sitting on the doorstep, watching her as she stepped out into the late afternoon.

“Where did you come from, dog?”

“I’ve always been here!” replied the dog.  “You just haven’t seen me before.”

Willow thought about how often this was happening in her life at the moment.  On the darkest day, if she opened her eyes, she would be able to see the sun behind the clouds.  If she looked deeply into misty, grey skies, she might see a rainbow.  Not least of all, if she truly looked hard, she would always see the fountain in the meadow.

“I’ve found gold, in a pot, here, at the end of the rainbow, dog!”

“Of course you did, Willow.  There is always gold in a pot, at the end of a rainbow.  You just have to see the rainbow.

The Oak Tree will always be where my rainbow ends, thought Willow.

Clutching Jay’s ring tightly in her hand, with one last glance back, Willow saw that the rainbow was slowly fading from the surface of the doorknob.

Willow reflected on the rainbow in the doorknob, on the wonderful cup of tea and delicious biscuit she had enjoyed so much, on the white rug at the foot of Jay’s bed, on the golden ring she held in her hand, and most of all, Willow thought of Jay.

“The gold you find at the end of a rainbow comes in many different forms, dog.”

Deeply lost in thought, Willow turned away from the Oak Tree, and made her way slowly back home.

STORIES OF WILLOW contd..

Image

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.”

Willow nodded.

“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!

FURTHER STORIES OF WILLOW contd….

Image

A PERFECT DAY

A small, green rocking chair had been placed very carefully in the bay window.  From this chair one could gaze out across the fields that surrounded the house where Willow lived.  Willow knew that if one crossed those fields and headed off left into the woodlands one would soon come to a great Oak Tree.  If you knew what Willow knew, you would rest your hand on a smooth, jade-green doorknob and push gently on the door to enter a home where someone very special lived.  Turning right at the tree would quickly bring you to a clearing in the branches.  You had to look carefully of course – it wasn’t obvious to the eye.  But if you found it, on peeping through this clearing one would be rewarded by a beautiful view of the meadow.  If you were lucky you might see a fountain there, but Willow had never yet met another person who had seen the fountain.

On this particular morning Willow surfaced very slowly from the depths of a deep sleep.  Never drawing her curtains, Willow preferred to fall asleep able to see the stars and sometimes the moon from her pillow.  Usually awake before dawn, Willow could often be found sitting on her small, green rocking chair gazing out across the fields as the sun rose setting the meadow alight in shades of green and gold.  Dawn was her favourite time of day, arriving as it did abundant with promises of things as yet unknown which she would discover as the day progressed.

This morning however, Willow had found it unusually hard to get up.  Blinking herself awake, Willow stretched back into her pillows and considered the night from which she was emerging.  It had been a very quiet night.  It had been a night of no dreams.  The kind of night one perhaps wished one might always enjoy, so rested were you when eventually you opened  your eyes to greet the day.  Willow knew that many people found the process of awakening a very difficult one.  Many people, she had been told, turned away from the day ahead of them at this exact point, sliding under the covers and back into their sleep.

Willow was not one of those people.  Eager to greet the day, Willow unfolded herself from the bed, crossed the room in her bare feet and seated herself on the pretty green chair.  Drawing her knees up to her chin Willow wrapped her arms around her legs gently rocking herself backwards and forwards as she welcomed this brand new day.  Having missed the sunrise, Willow found the fields already alight in the early morning sun, glistening with remnants of dew that covered vast areas of the brightest green.

The  meadow called.  It wasn’t a sound of course.  It was a feeling.  The feeling Willow had was very strong indeed, and shortly after she had felt it, she found herself calling a cheery farewell to the lady whose room she passed on her way out of the house.

“I might be a long time!”she called.  Willow had a feeling that this day held something very special for her and suspected she might be out of the house for most of the day.

“Take all the time you want, dear.” A voice from within the room replied.  “If my door is shut when you return, please do not disturb.” The voice advised.

Willow paused for a moment.  It’s such a beautiful day, she thought.  I wonder if I should invite her to come with me.  Would she come with me to the meadow, she wondered.

Willow very hesitantly peeped into the room.  Seated in a pool of sunlight streaming in from a very wide window, a woman was sitting before a large, blank canvas.  In one hand she held what appeared to be a very oddly shaped tray.  In her other hand she held a brush with which she was mixing bright yellows, oranges, golds and blues across the surface of this tray.

Softly, Willow called into the room: “Would you like to come with me today?”

“What an extraordinary idea.” Came the reply.

“Be a dear girl, and shut the door behind you please.”

Pulling the door softly behind her, Willow skipped down the stairs, out of the house and into the fields before her.

Stopping at the Oak Tree, Willow noticed that the doorknob showed her neither the sun nor the moon today.  Perhaps it was too early.  On entering the warm room, Willow found Jay standing before a pretty mirror placed above a small chest of drawers beside her bed.  Twisting her long, silver hair up into a knot, Jay turned to greet Willow with remarks about how very lovely this particular morning was.

“Will you come with me to the meadow today, Jay?” asked Willow.

“I have much to do today, Willow.” Jay gently declined.  “You go and have a splendid time.  If anything happens, be sure to come back and tell me all about it.”

Willow reached up to touch Jay’s hair.  Softer than the finest silk Willow had ever touched, Jay’s hair felt to Willow as she imagined a cloud might feel.

“Won’t you leave your hair down today?”she asked.  “Just this once, won’t you leave your hair down on this perfect day?”

Jay smiled.  “Gracious no.  I shouldn’t be able to see where I’m going or what I’m doing if I let my hair down!  Goodness, it would feel most odd!”

Bidding Jay a fond farewell, Willow turned right as she left the Oak Tree, climbed through the clearing in the branches and entered the meadow.

There stood the fountain, rising high up into the sunshine, inviting Willow to play.   Not yet, thought Willow.  Today I am happy just to be here.  Walking across the deep, long grass Willow stepped carefully among the meadow flowers making her way towards the stream that meandered along the edge of the meadow and out into the woods beyond.

Finding a smooth boulder here, Willow took off her shoes, sat down and put her feet in the cool, clear water.  This was such a beautiful day, she thought.  A perfect day.  Tilting her head back to face the sun, Willow found herself relaxing as she listened to the sound of water bubbling over small rocks in the stream.  Occasionally a tiny fish drifted past, pausing briefly to investigate her toes, nibbling on them for a moment before slipping off down the stream. 

A long blade of grass brushed against the hand Willow had place behind her on the rock for support.  Wait – it wasn’t just a blade of grass!  Something else was moving across her hand!  Turning to look behind her Willow saw a pretty, bright, green grasshopper had found itself a place to settle!

Very slowly, very carefully, Willow brought her hand around in front of her in order to study this pretty, little, green grasshopper more closely.  What a very strange creature a grasshopper is, thought Willow.  It was so small, yet so perfectly formed with its huge, oval brown eyes gazing steadily back into hers.  Segments of its perfectly formed, shiny, green body were dappled with tiny specks and dots that appeared to be changing colour in the sunlight.  Two long feelers twitched from side to side on the grasshopper’s head as it turned away from her to gaze into the stream before them.

OH!!  Suddenly, it jumped!  High off Willow’s hand, the little green grasshopper jumped into the air and into the stream before them!!  Can grasshoppers swim, wondered Willow, more than a little nonplussed!  Why would it do that!  Surely it would drown! Now anxious, Willow leaned over to stare into the water at her feet.  Nothing could be seen.  Feeling a little disconcerted, Willow wondered why the grasshopper had done this.  So small, so perfect, yet so deliberately this little grasshopper had leapt to what was surely its death!

Now what?!  What was this!  Bubbles had appeared in the water, swirling and bursting before Willow’s eyes.  To her astonishment a tall man, bare to the waist, adorned with what appeared to be a golden snake curled around his neck and a wide bracelet worn high on his arm, arose from the stream and stood before Willow, smiling.

Willow thought she might faint!  Scrambling off her boulder with her eyes fixed on the figure before her, Willow stepped backwards into the meadow, practically falling over her own feet as she backed away from this man in haste.

“Where are you going?” smiled the man.  “You don’t need to be afraid.”

“Who are you?  Where did you come from?”

“Why are you surprised?” smiled the man.  “I was sitting on your hand a moment ago!  You were perfectly happy with me there!”

NO!  No this sort of thing didn’t happen in real life.  This was the sort of thing that happened in fairy tales, and Willow was not a great reader of fairy tales at all.

“Why are you wearing a snake around your neck?” she demanded.  Willow had noticed that this creature had in fact quite a pleasant face for a snake, and that it appeared to be smiling at her from its position of honour.

“It’s a long story.” Replied the man.  “It has something to do with a river, but I shall save that story for another day.”

“Another day?  I hope I don’t see you on any other day!” Willow declared.  “I hate surprises!  And you’ve surprised me!”

The more she looked into his eyes, the more Willow, very reluctantly, had to acknowledge to herself that this man had a very kind face indeed.  In fact, this man was oddly not at all frightening.  Aside, of course, from the fact that he had appeared out of the stream claiming to be a grasshopper!

“I’m sorry to have alarmed you, Willow”  the man replied.  “I shall go back and I shan’t alarm you again.”

“Wait!”  Willow moved slowly towards this remarkable man.  “Why a grasshopper?  Why did you appear to me as a grasshopper!  How did you do that?  How do you know my name?”

Taking her questions as an invitation, the man stepped out of the stream and seated himself on a boulder beside the one on which Willow had been seated, indicating that Willow should join him on her boulder in order for him to explain.   Overwhelmed with curiosity Willow sat down to listen.

She heard many, many things.  The man spoke quietly.  He told Willow that he had always known her name and he always would.  Willow did not understand this, but, slightly mesmerised by his presence, she leaned forward and listened closely to all he said.  In a voice as warm and smooth as milk and honey, the man spoke to Willow of himself a little more.  He spoke of powers he had.  Powers of Giving and Abundance, of feeding all creatures of the earth, large and small.  He spoke also of rivers of poison, of battles and destruction, of birth and re-birth and of many things about which Willow knew nothing at all herself.  Then he spoke to Willow of the snake, telling her that he wore it as an ornament while it also represented the endless cycle of life.

“Is it alive?” asked Willow.

“From the beginning of time, it has always been alive.  To the end of time it will always be alive.” replied the man.

Did she imagine it, or did the serpent wink at her as he spoke!

Lastly, he spoke of the grasshopper.

“I’m extremely fond of grasshoppers ” he explained.  “Once, when I was handing out Plenty to all creatures of the earth, large and small, my wife picked up a small grasshopper and hid it under her gown at her breast as a joke.  But I had seen it there.” He smiled.  “When she withdrew it from her robe, she saw I had placed a fresh blade of grass in its mouth.” he laughed.

“I could just as easily have appeared to you in a different form you know.  I could have appeared as a tiger rushing towards you through the trees!”

Willow laughed out aloud!  “There are no TIGERS in these woods!”

“You would hope not ” he replied.  “Let us hope I never appear to you in that form.”

As the sun moved across the sky, the man continued to speak to Willow of many strange things.  Mostly, he spoke to her of great responsibilities.  In his tales of battles and births, of destruction and creation, he impressed upon Willow how hard it was to carry such great responsibility for everything on his shoulders.  Understanding very little of what he said, yet enjoying the sound of his voice and the warmth with which he spoke, Willow was happy to sit and listen. The further the sun declined on this perfect day, the more Willow grew sure that she had glimpsed a crescent moon appearing behind him, settling just above his head as though to adorn his hair.  What was that blinking lazily at her from the middle of his forehead?  Could it be a third eye?  It looked like that to Willow, but she could not be sure.  None of this made any sense to her at all.

Finally, the man arose from his boulder.  “Well, it was lovely to meet you, Willow.  Take good care of yourself ” he smiled.

As suddenly as he had appeared, this extraordinary man was gone!

Willow blinked.  Where did he go?  Glancing down Willow saw a tiny green grasshopper chirping merrily away up at her before it turned to hop swiftly away across the meadow.

What a very strange day this had been!!  Strange, but wonderful too!  Of course, she must have dreamed this.  None of what had happened could possibly have been true.  Yet, Willow could hear the voice of that remarkable man in her head, and in her heart she felt very warm and glowing, as you do when all things are well in your world. 

This had been a most perfect day!

Realising how late it was, Willow rushed back across the meadow, resolving to spend only a moment or two with Jay to tell her of the man she had seen, and all she had heard.

Sliding across the clouds on the surface of Jay’s jade-green doorknob a crescent moon could very clearly be seen.  Just like that which Willow was sure she had seen adorning the man’s hair just a very short while ago.

Breathlessly, Willow poured out her story to Jay; telling of grasshoppers, winking snakes, third eyes and a remarkable  man who spoke of many things about which she did not understand. Willow finally drew her story to its conclusion, awaiting Jay’s response.

“He seemed so light – yet so overloaded, Jay!!  There seemed such a great weight on his shoulders when he spoke!”

“Well, yes” replied Jay.  “Certainly, it is a great responsibility – having to carry all matters of both destruction and change on your shoulders all at the same time.”

“We don’t have to worry about that though.  Do we, Jay?”  Willow smiled, wondering how it could ever be possible.

“We don’t ever have to worry about anything”replied Jay.  “Worry is a terrible waste of time.  However, we do all carry that power, Willow.”

“We do?”  Willow inquired more than a little anxiously.

“Certainly.  On a daily basis, in all our lives.  We can destroy and renew so many things, so many people and in so many different ways.  We give and we take.  All of us.” Jay sighed a little before she continued.

“But don’t fill your head with thoughts of frightening things, Willow.  Remember only the wonderful stories you heard today.  Clear your head of all stories of battles and destruction” she advised.

Willow laughed.  “But of course, it wasn’t REAL Jay!  I must have fallen asleep and dreamed it!”  Although…. I wasn’t at all sleepy today, thought Willow.

Oh, it was real” replied Jay.  “It was like all things are.  It was all in your mind.  It’s in the mind that we make things our reality, Willow.”

As Willow left the Oak Tree she was sure she noticed that the crescent moon on that beautiful jade-green doorknob was blazing a lot more brightly than it had been on her arrival.

“I’m HOME!” called Willow, racing up the stairs.  “I’m home!”

To Willow’s surprise there was no: “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door.  Tonight, the door was slightly ajar.  Softly pushing it open, Willow peeked in and gasped in surprise!!!

There, filling what this morning had been a blank white canvas, now stood a man, adorned with a golden snake around his neck, a crescent moon above his head and what appeared to be a very small third eye in the middle of his forehead. Here stood the very man Willow had seen in the meadow today!!

How could this be?  Willow wondered.  How did she paint him so perfectly – so exactly as I saw him?  Could it be that in some way the woman asleep on the bed had also seen him?  Could it really be, on some level Willow did not understand, that they did in fact share something after all?

Something so vivid, so bright, so clear, so perfect as all on this day had been!