Under the Willow Trees

Sophie sat in the white rocking chair on the back end of the white veranda that wrapped around the old but well-maintained white Victorian farmhouse her grandfather had built so many years ago. Tears misted her eyes and her fist smothered a tissue in its depths. Angelica sat in the rocking chair on her right, her hair as white and fading as the porch around her. Her eyes held no tears though there was sadness within them.

“Those yellow flowers you dug up from the banks of the creek are blooming in my garden to this day,” Sophie said, her hand reaching out and catching Angelica’s. She let the warmth of Angelica’s return squeeze fill her broken heart. She stood up slowly, feeling the pain in her knees and hips as she rose. Her eyes wandered out beyond the porch and noted how the dark clothing of the people milling about left a sharp contrast to the rainbow of nature just beyond the bottom porch step. A gentle wind sent a chill through her thin shirt.

“It’s been too long since I’ve seen you,” Angelica said. She smiled, rising from her chair to stand beside Sophie, equal in height, and took her arm. She led Sophie down the steps to the lush green grass below them; past the well-wishers, their arms extended in comfort Sophie neither sought nor wanted; and through the slender white arch that led into the garden. Sophie breathed heavily, and they rested on a stone bench near the fountain, a two-tiered contraption with a waterfall that filled a pool in the bottom. A small stone cherub danced at the top; one leg extended behind him with toes pointed, arms outstretched, and his wings extended as if he would fly away.

“Michael brought that home from Italy.” Sophie said, a smile tinting her voice. “He’d come home from a business trip boasting about some surprise for me, and when the delivery truck pulled up, it took four men and a platform to move it.” She choked a little as tears filled her eyes again. Angelica looked at her and clasped Sophie’s hands in her own. “We were still newlyweds then. He said it reminded him of me.”

“It does. Ever since I can remember, you were always dancing, your hair trailing out behind you. I always swore you were an angel.” Angelica moved closer as Sophie’s head came to rest on her shoulder. They sat quietly together listening to the murmurs of the garden and letting their memories escape into its beauty.

Sophie knew the garden and all its pathways by heart. She knew that every flower, every tree, every bush, and every seed had a purpose for being there. Each had its own story to tell, and almost all of them had been shared. Her grandchildren would tend to the garden as they had been already. The flowers would live on–the purple crocuses scattered among a sea of bluebells, pink hyacinths bathing with yellow daffodils and sweet black eyed Susans; sun-kissed Gerberas mingling with frosty blue irises, fuchsia fringed roses on a bush surrounded by fiery dahlias–in new adventures shared by fresh voices and vivid imaginations. The white stone maidens that lurked around every corner would find suitors of hay and rock during the matchmaking antics of hopeless romantics. Even the cherub standing ever so stoic would have a part in the stories. Stories that will be sometimes true, but mostly false, and completely undisputed.

There would be that one spot in the garden that would be forever discussed in hushed tones; those quiet whispers interrupted by surreptitious glances down a vacant hall from inquisitive children. It was not there yet, though. This new story had yet to unfold, but its time was coming. Sophie knew it. Angelica knew it. Even the garden knew it. It was especially splendid today, after the rain, as if it were ready.

“Did you bring it?” Sophie asked her oldest friend.

“Yes.” An opened hand revealed a few small pills within its center. These they split equally between them and downed without a chaser. Sophie smiled in silence, then rose, beckoning Angelica further into the garden. A small twist down the path here, a turn at a Japanese maple there, and a spin just beyond the dogwood with its blossoms tipped in red, and they stopped. Filled with glee, they laughed like the schoolgirls they once were, and danced together into the sanctuary under the willow trees until they could dance no more before falling to the earth breathless, closing their eyes for the last time.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, kgwaite challenged me with “Those little yellow flowers you dug up from the banks of the creek are blooming in my garden.” and I challenged Allyson with “Use this image for inspiration: http://www.josephinewall.co.uk/discovery.html (Josephine Wall “The Discovery”)”

And this week’s StoryDam challenge was: Think of the most fantastic place you can. Then describe it from yours or your character’s point of view. This can be a place you have seen personally, one from media, or a fictional place. Take us (or whomever your story’s audience is) there in our minds.

I always welcome and appreciate your feedback. Feel free to share your thoughts in a comment.Did I take you there? Could you see the garden? Could you see the 2 old Betties dancing under the willows?

Thanks for stopping by!!

Wikipedia: bold definition: fearless before danger.

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Stephanie Ayers

Executive Creative Director at Our Write Side/OWS Ink, LLC
A published author with a knack for twisted tales, Stephanie Ayers is the Executive Creative Director of OWS Ink, LLC, a community for writers and readers alike. She loves a good thriller, fairies, things that go bump in the night, and sappy stories. When she is not writing, she can be found in Creative Cloud designing book covers and promotional graphics for authors.
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9 thoughts on “Under the Willow Trees”

  1. lexy3587 says:

    You definitely brought the place to life. I love that kind of garden, the kind with paths and isolated areas, where you can get lost and explore. You also brought the emotion into it really well. such a sad ending, though it seems like it’s the happiest ending the women could get for themselves.

  2. Lance says:

    I didn’t notice KG’s prompt. It wass seamless. This is such rich, deep conversation and setting.

    well written and well done

  3. Tara R. says:

    A tender and poignant story. Beautifully and compassionately told.

  4. Carrie says:

    This was so soothing. I loved the description of the garden and the obvious pleasure it brought both women.

  5. insignif at best (@insignifblog) says:

    Stories like this one are why I love your writing so much. No matter how beautiful they seem there is always something a little twisted beneath the surface waiting to reveal itself. This story is no different! My only real critique would be this paragraph:

    “Sophie knew the garden and all its pathways by heart. She knew that every flower, every tree, every bush, and every seed had a purpose for being there. Each had its own story to tell, and almost all of them had been shared. Her grandchildren would tend to the garden as they had been already. The flowers would live on–the purple crocuses scattered among a sea of bluebells, pink hyacinths bathing with yellow daffodils and sweet black eyed Susans; sun-kissed Gerberas mingling with frosty blue irises, fuchsia fringed roses on a bush surrounded by fiery dahlias–in new adventures shared by fresh voices and vivid imaginations. The white stone maidens that lurked around every corner would find suitors of hay and rock during the matchmaking antics of hopeless romantics. Even the cherub standing ever so stoic would have a part in the stories. Stories that will be sometimes true, but mostly false, and completely undisputed.”

    I know we were supposed to be descriptive, but there was so much description here I got a little lost in it and it pulled me from the story. Does that make sense?

    Other than that, amazing job! You managed to make something very dark, seem peaceful and right. Love it.

  6. Kelly Garriott Waite says:

    Oh man, was this perfect. I have a friend who actually dug up flowers for me from the banks of the creek. It’s the flowers from my friends that I treasure the most. So well done.

    1. SAM says:

      Thanks, Kelly. I’m really glad you liked it. Thanks for the beautiful prompt!

  7. Donna says:

    I am so in love with this story! You had me from the line “her fist smothered a tissue in its depths.” It’s wrapped in so much beauty, from the sensory elements and the emotion to the relationship between the women. Beautiful. The gardener living inside me must mention that Black-Eyed Susans bloom in July so they can’t companion daffodils and hyacinths, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if they could!

    1. SAM says:

      Ah and you see how much of a gardner I am not, lol.

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