Cloaking Willow (2)

I met James at the willow before dawn and he seemed excited.

“What is it?” I said as I peeked through the willows vines.

“I know how we will tell them, it’s perfect.” He went up to me grabbed my hand and lead me over to our stump. He kissed the ring on my finger and explained, “Your parents’ spring picnic, we are invited. I believe that if we tell them the news in front of all their close friends and family they will not react badly in front of them. Our parents are so venerable socially they will go with it. With everybody knowing of our engagement, they will have nothing to do.” He smiled; I thought for a second and smiled back.

“You‘re right it is perfect.” He kissed me and I wrapped my arms around his neck, carelessly in love with my true love. He looked down at me and brushed the hair out of my face.

We sat back on our root and refined our plans, making it perfect and filling the messy holes. The sun rose for a new day, when we noticed that the sun had nearly risen we decided to depart with the promise of tomorrow. As I walked home I felt like I was flying, nothing could stop me. I opened the back door to the house, swirled through the door, and let out a dreamy sigh.

“What’s wrong with you?” I jumped at sound of my brother’s voice and struggled to catch my breath. Why was he up this early, I felt my stomach churn and returned his glance. His face was blank except for a furrow between his eyebrows.

“Uh, nothing. It’s just a good day.” I replied, and my brother raised his eyebrow. He was unconvinced, he was angry, he knew something. What was it?

“So, what were you doing?” His eyes were filled with suspicion and my eyes mirrored it with intimidation.

“I was walking through the garden, I do it every morning. You could join me sometime.” I said with no holes, I had practiced this cover up thousands of times. I added the invitation to throw him off; I knew he wouldn’t accept he is never usually up this early. As I realized this I clutched my stomach as it twisted and flipped sending a message I couldn’t comprehend.

“Sure, it wasn’t, let’s see, maybe a secret rendezvous with your fiancé?” He said it like the crack of the whip. I stood still for a second as a flood of agony rushed over my being.

“But how—”I whispered I couldn’t ask, did I truly want to know? What was he going to do? I took a step back, my eyebrows in a deep furrow, and pain stained deep in my expression.

He immediately stepped forward like I was his prey, and he wouldn’t stop until I broke and forfeited. But, at what cost? “Well I guessed the garden isn’t a safe place to propose.” He laughed a humorless chuckle and continued, “Especially with a brother like me, what was I to think when you two wandered off. Of course I would follow and well if I just happened to overhear—”

“What are you saying?” I cut in, I was sick to the details. I knew he would want a slow torture, but if asked for the point I knew he would deliver.

“If you ever see him again, I will kill him.” He said it in a stern yet casual tone. The command cut like a stab in my heart, and I struggled urgently to catch my breath as he went out the door.

“Don’t!” I cried as I busted through the door.

“Not now, I said if you ever saw him again.” He paused refining his plan and my sentence for going against my family. “Well, except at our parties, but no sneaking off.” His eyes filled with hate as he commanded me as if he were my father.

“Why?” I shouted in reply as tears cascaded down my face.

He turned around again with a new hatred in his eye. “You are not my sister anymore, if you love one of… them.” He paused to let out a slow sigh. “You have betrayed us, and I’m putting my foot down.” With that he cut another break into my heart not as deep but more fatal, because I had already been in agony this was worse. It was too much my brother hated me and I could never see my true love again. I looked up to the sky for help if nature was on our side; I needed help more than ever. A gust of wind threw my hair around my face, and I followed it to the willow.

The sun was hidden behind storm clouds as I slipped through the cloak of vines. I sat on our root where the willow welcomed me and I wept against its body.

“Elizabeth, why are you still out?” It was Evelyn, I could tell this wasn’t the question she wanted to ask, but I was just glad she was there. I ran to her and threw my arms around her. To this she replied “What’s wrong?” She sat me down and rubbed my back, the motion was awkward but the intention was maternal.

I took in a deep breath and confided “I can’t – see James anymore.” I forced an extra breath into my lungs. As I said the words it made it more final and I fell into another weeping spell.
*****************************************************************

I fell back into consciousness and was in my bed, covered by my quilt to my collar bone. My room was dim; all the details popped out, yet they were of little importance. The purple walls with beautiful black patterns had turned dull, either from the lack of light or from how little I cared. My quilt with beautiful hand-stitched embroidery felt feeble on my fingertips. My sister had yet to notice I was awake. She was sitting in a chair in the far corner fiddling around, anxious, and restless. It was hard to tell that she was younger than me, it was probably just me she was so mature especially for her age. She scanned her eyes back over my face, the action seemed casual. Surprise widened in her eyes as she rose and came to my bedside, her hands embraced my face and she swept my hair back. She looked over me assessing my health.

“Are you okay?” She said emotions thick in her voice. My voice didn’t want to be heard; I coughed lightly in my throat.

“I guess,” I said with a course voice that nearly cracked. I didn’t know what else to say, I didn’t want to make her worry it was useless. My eyes had no tears to shed, and my throat was dry letting me know that my tears were all used up.
“Mother has planned a party,” she shook her head in disagreement. “I told her that you were not well. She insisted,” she sighed, “I gave her the condition of only if you awoke two hours before the party. We have three hours, but I could lie…” she said as if she was going to go on. She looked at me and her eyebrows furrowed with worry. “If you don’t want to go, I won’t go either.” She averted her eyes.

“No, I need you to go. If James is there,” my voice was course “I-I I need you to tell him that I … can’t see him anymore.” My voice kept cracking as I forced the words out of my mouth. My mouth didn’t want to say it, it wanted to close and never talk again. I forced it open once again to warn her “You have to make sure Michael isn’t watching I don’t want you to be in trouble, too.”

“Okay,” she replied obediently. She kept her head low as she excused herself out of my room. I shut my eyes and drifted to a better place, where things were lively and life was worth living.

I am back at the willow. The wind is blowing through the vines and blowing hair in my face. I am not alone James is right next to me his hand intertwined with mine. The sun is rising making an orchestra of colors in the sky, with beautiful shapes sticking out at various places.

Nothing is wrong in a world that is the opposite. The wind blows my hair toward his face, and we just stand there. He turns to me and smiles; we share no words. He takes my face with his hand and runs it along the contour of my face, his eyes on mine. He goes forward and then he stops, he steps away looking at his torso in agony and confusion. I step forward quickly my hand out to help if he needs it. He stumbles back and I see my brother with a gun pointed in our direction, I stop breathing and look down at James. A pool of blood surrounds him; I kneel down and look for something/anything to do. His eyes stay straight on me, but I am too busy trying to fix it. He grabs my hand and places it on his chest where I start to feel his heart dying. I panic to help, but I don’t know what I have to do. He takes my hand again and places it on his face, smudging blood on his face. He mouths I love you and his eyes slowly close, shut. I stand the only thing I can do now is revenge him. I ran out of the willow and whipped my head around; searching for my brother he was in plain sight. I hastily walked toward him, but as I was two steps away a loud sound followed deep pain and agony. I looked to the willow and saw the shadow of my dead love “I’ll be with you soon” I whispered as my eyes gave way.

I awoke with deep gasps, looking around rapidly to find that I was safe in my room. I went to look out to the party and I saw everyone having fun, except one, James. I averted my eyes from him, he wouldn’t die. Or at least if he did I would be with him, but he deserved better.





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