Word Count: 499
When Yes Means No
(The Tale of Willow Skye Cont’d)
By Sharon Collins
Willow Skye was just a babe wrapped in a shimmery shawl, when the Gate Keeper found her asleep in a basket floatin’ in the shallows under Dame Willow. When he fished her out, she woke up and showed her willow-eye and her sky-eye for the first time. Anyway, that’s how the Gate Keeper tells the tale. But tale or no, her left eye is the silver-green of a summer willow and her right eye is the blue of a bright summer sky; hence her name Willow Skye, the Mathair’s Summer Gift-Giving, Gift.
Everyone wondered, but no one knew who she was or where she come from, and although everyone suggested it, no one offered to take her in. As I said, Summer Gift-Giving is a thin time of year and bellies are mostly empty. Offering to fill another is just plain foolish. So the Gate Keeper who had been her finder, became her keeper. He was already mighty old then, thrice eleventy. (Eleventy is twice eleven, so if your cipherin’ is good, you’ll know that on his birthday, which was the, Summer Gift-Giving Festival Day he found Willow Skye, he turned sixty-six.) So the day that the Gate Keeper’s eyebrows broke and the trouble-times begun, was Willow Skye’s eleventh birthday and his thrice eleventy, plus eleven. It was is a mighty important day all around, and now you know how the day started and how Willow Skye came to be charge.
The next piece of our puzzle a body needs to know, in order to trace our troubles back to the beginnin’, is that in addition to Willow Skye’s eerie eyes, strange hair, and uncommon height, is the unsettlin’ fact that she has a geis; she can’t speak. Well, that’s not entirely true; she can speak, but only, just one word. That word is, “Yes.” So most folks, when they meet her for the first time, find her uncommonly accommodatin’ and then quickly uncommonly confusin’. That’s where I come in; being the Bee Keeper’s Boy don’t keep me all that busy. So I spend a lot of my time mindin’ other folk’s business, includin’ Willow Skye’s. So when she says “Yes,” but she really means “No,” I translate. Us orphans has got to stick together. I should have stuck tighter that day. The day Willow Skye said, “Yes,” once too many times.
“Can you help me, Willow-Skye?”, “Is this the right path? Willow-Skye”, “Will you carry my basket?”, “Will you watch my child?”, “Is it all right if I skip tying just this once, Willow-Skye?” The questions came quicker than cows to the byre at milkin’ time. And of course, Willow Skye keep sayin’, “Yes.” Soon the riverbank was covered with wicker baskets and muddy toddlers and Dame Willow wasn’t wearin’ many thankful ribbons. I got mighty worried that things was goin’ crossways, but what with chasin’ the young’uns and rescuin’ baskets, I didn’t have a moment to spare for the ribbons. Lookin’ back, that was a mistake.