Willow of the Wisps
Willow of the Wisps
By Sue Midlock
I am the oldest. A girl. A sister to four younger brothers. Dreadful beasts they are and yet, I am to endure their antics to no end. My parents, I love them dearly, though trying as they might be, I could not live without them. My father, a hunter, keeps us well fed. My younger brothers look up to him and want to be like him. Reasonably said. My mother wishes me to be like her and one day take her place when she rises to the heavens on her deathbed.
Granted, I am still young, but there is so much more to life than these four walls! I want adventure. I want to see what else our big world has to offer. I take a deep breath and sigh in defeat.
One day, when my life stresses took full hold of my faculties and I could no longer accept what fate had in store for me, I ran away. It was night. A cold one too, but I took no notice in that, for escaping was all I had on my mind. Freedom.
I ran—I do not know where. I just ran and ran some more till I could no longer. I fell to the ground, gasping for breath. The cool air stung my lungs, but I was grateful. Looking up at the stars above me, they twinkled like tiny diamonds against a blanket of ebony. It held me captive for the longest time. Wonderment and awe entered my thoughts. How could something so beautiful, so vast, be taken so frivolously? I could remain just like this forever, and never wish for another thing in my life. No, nothing would compare to how wonderful this sight was. It captivated my soul.
As I looked on, I took no notice of my surroundings. I didn’t care. I lived for that moment only, but—something did distract me and so I looked away. There, to my right, a blue light, about the size of my fist floated, flickering. A wisp! I gazed at the sight and stood up slowly, for I didn’t wish to scare it away.
I went closer, but as I did, it disappeared. Just like that! I stopped. I became disheartened. Life was so unfair. Why? Why did it go away? Why? I took a few more steps and another one appeared, as well as others leading further down the hillside and into a forest. I didn’t care where I was going, this was my adventure I had planned. So, I followed and when the last of the wisps disappeared I was faced with an old woman. She was feeble, small in stature, with graying hair, large nose, and bony fingers.
She stood next to a large pot, whose contents glowed green. She fixated so intently on what she had in the pot, that she took no notice of me.
“You come for adventure I see.” she said.
“How did you know?” I said incredulously.
She laughed out loud. She stopped her stirring and looked directly at me.
“Why you said so yourself! You’ve come at the most inopportune time, but I will forgive you this time. Just don’t do it again!” Then she went back to her pot.
“I promise.” I didn’t know why I promised her, only that I did. Strange.
For the next five minutes or so, I stood watching her and became annoyed and planned on leaving when she said, “Patience. You are fickle, but I like that. Come closer and I will grant you your wish.”
“But I didn’t wish for anything. I-I just had to get away. I want more than learning how to keep a house clean and raise a family.”
“Hush. I don’t want to hear your dribble. Now, look closely into the pot, tell me what you see?”
I did as she asked. A little apprehensive at first, but her twitchy foot told me to hurry up. So, I did. When I peered into this sea of green I became mesmerized by it and . . .
Something warm, grass-like tickled my fingers as my eyes adjusted to the light. There I sat, in the strangest place. A meadow of sorts, with flowers of such a peculiar color and fragrance. I looked above me and the sky, which I knew it to be, wasn’t. It took on a shade all of its own. Pastel in nature and light.
I stood up and just a few yards away, a creature stood looking at me and then flew directly at me. I screamed!
“Don’t eat me!”
“Good heavens, why would I want to eat someone like you?” he said.
I peered through my fingers and saw the most unusual creature? Bird? Not sure what it was. He seemed genuine. Safe. So, I introduced myself.
“How do you do? My name is Mary? And yours?”
“I don’t have a name. If you wish to give me one, you may.”
How odd he was. I could give him a name. Since when do people—things or creatures for that matter, do that?
“Alright. I will call you Edward.”
He scrunched his nose at me, then, accepting his name, he nodded in approval.
“Good! So, tell me, where am I? I don’t even know how I got here—wait, I do remember! A witch told me to look into her pot and I would have my wish, though I didn’t ask for one. I wanted an adventure, so, I gather this must be my adventure!”
He snorted, “Good grief, a witch? Can’t you be more interesting with your story? A witch is so commonplace. So, boring. Come now, you can do better! Give it a go.”
I didn’t like this, this—creature. He reminded me of my brothers.
“I’m telling you the truth. It was a witch and how would you know differently? You weren’t even there!”
He looked at me with eyes that looked familiar.