Weeping Willow Tree
Short Story by D.B. Mauldin
Cathy was around eight-years-old when her family bought the big white house on the corner. She was immediately drawn to the large weeping willow tree that stood in their backyard. Cathy knew the tree had been there a long time. It was very tall, with long, thick branches that swept the ground. Cathy found that if she pulled open some of the branches and stepped inside, she was hidden from the world, and the world was hidden from her.
It was indeed a whole new world under the branches of the weeping willow tree. It was cool, damp, and shady with lots of moss and mushrooms. Cathy walked up to the huge trunk of the weeping willow tree. At first, she just reached out and touched it. She could feel the happy energy emanating from the tree. Cathy tried to wrap her arms around the trunk to give the weeping willow tree a hug, but her little eight-year-old arms didn’t even make it half way around the trunk. It didn’t matter. She could feel the tree accepting her hug and gently hugging her back.
“This is going to be great,” Cathy thought to herself, “I’ve found a new best friend.”
Whenever Cathy got a chance, she weaved her way through the long, thick branches of the weeping willow tree. She would sit on one of the many large roots and tell the tree all about her day; good and bad. She poured her secrets out to the tree. She did her homework under the tree. She would read and dream under the tree.
Cathy felt the weeping willow tree was a female, a mother, full of nurturing and caring. The tree never criticized or grumbled, she just listened silently and gently stroked Cathy’s head, arms, and legs with her long, thick branches. Cathy started calling her, ‘Willow’, and that seemed just fine to the tree.
When her mother and father started yelling at each other, Cathy would sneak out of the house and seek solace underneath the loving and caring ‘Willow’. Sometimes, she even fell asleep lying next to ‘Willow’. When she fell asleep underneath the weeping willow tree, she always dreamed of beautiful fairies dancing happily all around her. After awhile the fairies began to stay even when Cathy was awake. They felt safe with her and loved what they called ‘The Meadow under the Weeping Willow Tree’. They would tell Cathy all sorts of tales and Cathy would write them down on paper.
When Cathy was in high school, she had shown some of her writings to her Creative Writing teacher. The teacher loved the stories and helped Cathy get some of the short stories published. By the time she left home to go to college, Cathy was a well established author of short stories.
The night before she left for college, Cathy went out to ‘Willow’ and gave her a hug. Even at age 18, Cathy’s arms still did not reach all the way around ‘Willow’s’ mighty trunk. Cathy gave thanks to ‘Willow’ for being there for her when she had needed her the most. She promised ‘Willow’ she would be back for visits. She thanked the fairies for giving her their stories and asked if any of them would come with her to college to keep her company and give her inspiration. Cathy knew the fairies, unlike ‘Willow’, could move around at whim.
Cathy could hear ‘Willow’ weeping softly. Then with a gentle swoosh of a breeze, ‘Willow’ parted her long, hanging branches to form a path for Cathy. Cathy knew she would be welcomed back anytime, but things would never be the same.
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