Word Count 499
By Sharon Collins
Lavender Blue, Dilly-Dilly; Lavender Green; When I am King, Dilly-Dilly, you shall be queen… How these silly words assault me. Sitting here, humming them under Dame Willow’s leafy locks, I can testify that a broken heart still beats.
He is gone and will never call me Willy-Dilly again; or insist my eyes are Lavender Blue and Lavender Green; or pretend we will be King and Queen. That tangle of a boy did just what I expected; he asked. Did he do it private-like? Oh, no, he did it yesterday at the Summer-Gift-Giving-Festival, in front of the entire village. Squealing, the Kitchen-Cook gave the Dungeon-Master a hearty smack on the back. He pulled out his purse and gave her a silver, which she immediately tucked in her ample bosom. Of course, I said yes, as I must with this geis upon me, but the tears springing to my eyes said no. Widrick knows when yes means no; he’s been my shadow ever since Toby adopted him. What a pair, the Bee-Keeper’s-Boy translating for the Gate-Keeper’s-Girl… But now, he is gone.
After enduring the endless well-wishing, he walked me to the cottage I share with Magda the Midwife and her trained magpie with a vocabulary twice mine. It can say Welcome and Farewell, but rarely gets the right word for the occasion. What a pair of misfits we are, the Midwife’s-Magpie and me. Maybe that’s why Magda took me in after I replaced the Gate-Keeper the year his eyebrows broke, and then said yes once too many times to tinkers and ner’do-wells asking entrance. Well, we have a new Gate-Keeper, and I am now the Midwife’s Assistant with a new cottage and garden to tend when I am not tending others.
Widrick and I sat on the garden wall in the lavender twilight a long time before he took my hand, “Willy-Dilly,” he sighed, “ I know I ain’t yer idea of a Knight in Shinin’ Armor, but I love you from the bottom of my hurtin’ heart. I know you caint say no, and I’m sorry for puttin’’ you on the spot today. It’s jest that when I saw your pretty-self standin’ there, the only one tyin’ a grateful-ribbon on Dame Willow with the sun a-shinin’ on your strawberry-tea hair and you a-hummin’ the Lavender-Song… well, the words just tumbled out. I oughta have waited til we were alone…”
“Yes,” I nodded. “Yes.”
“Well, I ain’t holdin’ you to it. But I ain’t hangin’ ‘round here a’hankerin’ after what I caint have, so I’m leavin’. I’m goin’ on a quest startin’ at dawn tomorrow , just like a real knight. I’m headin’ up-river to learn how to remove this geis on you. And when I do, I will ask you agin. But fer now, I knows yer Yes means No.”
With a bow and a chivalrous kiss to my hand, he left. The fool magpie squeaked, “Farewell,” getting it right for once, as my sweet shadow faded into the night.