Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Trees (12/05/05)
- TITLE: Willow
By Mary Lang
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The storm raging in the night personified the anger in Willow Kiernan’s tortured heart. She saw lightening hurl its fiery jagged javelins at the earth, and watched the wind whip trees into submission.
As the storm raged, Willow railed against life’s cruelty. She had never felt more alone. When the storm and Willow were spent, a gentle rain fell, and Willow wept.
Tears cleansed her anguished soul as the rain cleaned the earth. Exhausted, Willow prayed:
Father protect Owen Austin Kiernan as he carries out his duty in
the jungles of war. He has been gone so long, and I miss him so
much. I am afraid of the evil prowling in this tempestuous night.
Deliver me from the wild winds that howl outside these walls and
from the hollowness of my tormented heart. Be with us tonight. Bind
my heart to Owen’s with you grace. And please … bring Owen home.
Willow rose before the morning sun cast out its thin warmth, and wandered among the oak trees near the river. Somehow, the weathered old trees renewed her strength with their faithful presence. These gentle giants willingly sheltered any person or thing. She eagerly approached Old Beard, her favorite tree, whose massive roots had often cradled her when her world spun out of control.
This morning she stopped short, eyes wide, staring. Leaves had been torn from Old Beard’s powerful arms revealing bareness where a majestic canopy had been. Many of Old Beard’s branches were broken and twisted, hanging by stringy wood fibers. The aged protector had been assaulted by the ferocious wind during the night.
Willow tentatively touched a gaping, jagged wound in the tree’s trunk where a branch had once held fluttering leaves.
The touch burned her fingers and splintered her mind with images of camouflaged men carrying rifles. She heard popping sounds, bullets whizzing. In a flash she saw Owen kneeling behind a tree reloading his weapon. Figures were darting from tree to tree around him as bullets thudded into tree trunks.
Shocked she jumped back. Her heart raced. Her body shook. She blinked to clear her mind.
The night storm had reminded her of the danger Owen faced. Now danger flaunted itself openly, teasing her anger into a futile rage at being separated from Owen.
Willow stood before Old Beard. She yearned to see more of Owen, to hear him. If she touched the ragged wood on Old Beard’s wound, would she? Could she see him?
Longing for Owen fueled her desire, but she hesitated, hearing a whispering
She thought the breeze breathing through Old Beard’s ravished leaves toyed with her desire for Owen. She heard the sound again.
Willow spun around. Her sharp eyes searched from tree to tree. Was anyone there?
It didn’t really matter: she was intent on revisiting the fierce magic that had given her a priceless vision of Owen.
She turned back to Old Beard. She stretched out her arm and closed her eyes. Her long fingers reached to touch the splintered wound in the tree. Instead of cold, jagged wood, her fingers touched warm flesh.
She recoiled, spinning around. Her eyes opened wildly.
There are different endings to this story, and I have not chosen one.
Would you like a predictable, happy ending where Willow opens her eyes to see Owen (her personal O.A.K.), witness a joyful reunion, and get an explanation why he snuck up on her?
Or would you prefer to watch someone force Willow go through more Job-like trials and battle the call of magic during her separation from Owen without losing her faith in God?
You the reader can help decide or offer a new twist.
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