The Willow by Catherine Russell

The willow grew near the brook, and the girl had often climbed its branches in her youth to gaze into the cool clear water. Despite her father’s prohibitions, she found her only solace in its branches. The constraints of rank and privilege had always weighed heavy on her young shoulders: she often spoke to the tree and confided her deepest thoughts to its silent branches.

When she grew older and her father died, she fled once more to the willow’s embrace. She felt her father’s presence there – scolding her even as she searched the waters for a peace she no longer possessed. The branch she perched upon broke, giving beneath her and falling into the crystal blue water.

She knew she should swim. Instead, she opened her arms wide – her tresses a golden halo, her dress spread like angel wings. The water caressed and carried her, and while it bore her up she sang snatches of old tunes. When the weight of her clothing pulled her down, the songs of her childhood ceased – along with dreams and guilt.

The tree, ever her friend, had provided her escape.

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “The Willow by Catherine Russell

  1. adampb

    Wonderfully poetic, languid and melancholic.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  2. What a beautiful way to go, and such lovely imagery. When I’m done reading a story I hurry up and close my eyes and see if I can paint a picture with the author’s prose. I get a great image from all of your stories, thank you!

  3. Randal Houle

    Nice images, clearly drawn. I was sad that she drowned, but I’m silly that way. Good approach to the theme.

  4. Beautiful imagery! Lyrical and self-contained. Thank you.

  5. Thank you! I don’t know if it came across, but my inspiration was the drowning of Ophelia.

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  7. guy

    It’s another one of those giving trees. The Ophelia came through loud and clear.
    I like this.

  8. Agreed, it’s poetically written and the imagery is very well done!

  9. Len

    nice. reminded of a modern day retooling of “the giving tree,” one of my favorite stories that breaks my heart every time, same as yours.

  10. I like how her father’s presence hovers over even after death while the arms of the willow tree offers a mother’s solace.

  11. Without knowing your Ophelia origins, I sensed this from your lyrical, poetic voice in your lovely prose. Gosh, this is wonderful and thanks for your gifts.

  12. psychologically resonant and true yet not weighted down…magical and fantastical in the way of the best archetypal tales. Beautifully voiced language. Thank you.

  13. Kim Hutchinson

    This is so lyrical, the ending is uplifting somehow. Very well done.

  14. Wow, especially loved the ending. Touching story, beautifully written.

  15. Beautiful, beautiful telling of this story. Peace…

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