Word Count 451
(The Tale of Willow Skye Cont’d)
By Sharon Collins
My name is Willow Skye and although I can speak but a single word, that word being, “Yes,” my thoughts are myriad. Neither I nor the Villagers know from whence I come. I know no mother, other than the River Maithair, yet I have her. I know no father, other than the Gate-Keeper, yet I have him. I know no kin, other than Widrick, that infernally bothersome Bee-Keeper’s Boy, and yet I have him too. My reality may be small but my dreams are large. I am both blessed and cursed, as are they. This geis lies not on me alone. It has spelled us all, the entire Village, whether they know or not.
Dark Forces have been at work ever since the Summer-Festival-Gift-Giving-Day when I turned eleven, and the Gate-Keeper’s eyebrows broke; changes have been happening around here. And I fear they have not been good. For the past eleven years, it is I who have been welcoming folks to the festival. I cannot remember the last time a Giver carried his own basket to the castle. Thank goodness they are barely heavy, and I can carry three or four at a time. No one bothers to stop and tie a grateful ribbon in Dame Willow’s hair anymore either. There’s n’ary a one left from long ago. And what is there, is nothing but faded memories. Folks have forgotten how to be thankful and it all stared with me saying, “Yes,” every time someone asked a favor. It seems getting one too many favors fractures folks. Sadly it’s all about the “getting” around here nowadays and not the “giving”. My days are filled with other folk’s chores: churning butter, scrubbing stoops, chasing chickens and children, wringing laundry, spinning wool, gathering kindling, gutting fish…it just goes on and on. And no one even says, “Thank you.”
Anyways, today is the Summer-Festival-Day; folks don’t even refer to it as the The Gift-Giving-Day anymore, and it’s my eleventy-ith birthday (which means I am twice eleven.) Both Toby and the Gate-Keeper passed last winter with the melting snows, and I now keep the Gate with the help of Himself, the ever-nosey, barley bideable, 19-year-old Widrick. I do believe Widrick thinks we live a fairy tale, and he’s my Knight in Shining Armor. The Kitchen-Cook gets giggly every time she reminds me, “That young rapscallion has set his heart on you, dearie !” I do dread the day he dares to ask for my hand. Of course I must say, “Yes,” but I will mean, “No!” Oh what a tangle my life has become. I wish it truly were a fairy tale; then this geis might be broken, and I could live happily ever after.