Weeping Willow

Beneath the leafy boughs, she waits. In one slender hand she clutches a white rose. The other grasps the branch of a tree, against which she slumps like a pregnant doe. The air is heavy with spring and anticipation. She stares vacantly into the forest.

Shadows dance beneath the trees. Her sisters assume female shapes as they converge on the copse. Skeletal ladies drift from between the trees, fine cheekbones pale in the dark. Long, fleshless legs carry them to the feast. Her sisters have not fed for many days.

Perching upright in the grass, they eat slowly. Pained smiles give their faces the likeness of skulls. The feast is bountiful but they do not gorge themselves. With terrible patience they pluck out delicacies from those arrayed in the grass and bring them to their broken lips. Burs cling to their cold breasts. Leaves flow from their waists like tattered dresses stitched from moss and mulch. Their scornful laughter fills the trees.

She does not dine with her sisters. She could scream, watching them pick like mice at their spoils. Her appetites are wilder. She craves contact, warmth, light against her skin and inside it – life in the dank wetness of her womb.

Where her sisters intend mockery, she sees only envy. Their fingers are green with it. She is sick of the forest, of her siblings, of the trees; so old, so uncompromising.

But what is a dryad without its parent tree? Should she move a dozen feet from her willow – its pale skin so much like bone – she would wither and die. Such is the fate of the dryad. Such is the link between body and soul. Her fingers curl around the rose, clench tight, tremble until viridian beads trickle down its stem. She will always suffer in darkness.

But she need not suffer alone.

He is coming. Over the wet sounds of her sisters’ chewing, she can hear the crack of the forest beneath his boots. She has grown gaunt with waiting, but he has kept true to his word, at least; that red-blooded man with heat in his hands and in his loins. How could he not return, after their last encounter, when he had feasted so hungrily on the ripe flesh of her fruit? She imitates the female form so well: nature personified; the spirit of the earth and the bark and the leaf, and all the appetites that come with it. Let her sisters find satisfaction in their own way, and she in hers.

She watches them eat until they cannot eat any more and fall back from the steaming bodies in their midst. Cavernous rib cages lie cracked, exposed to the beetles and the birds. Faces stripped of their flesh stare without seeing at the trees, and the ladies in their midst; skeletal no more but plump and soft like swollen fruit. Mockery abandoned, they sprawl in the darkness, and sleep, and grow roots into the damp earth.

In the darkness of the copse, far from the world of men, where the sun struggles to reach and the soil is always moist, she turns from her sisters and begins to weep. She weeps for the forest and for love and for the feel of sunlight on her face. Is that not what the willow does best?

~ Thomas Brown

© Copyright 2013 Thomas Brown. All Rights Reserved.

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About Thomas Brown

Thomas Brown is a postgraduate researcher at the University of Southampton, where he is exploring the relationship between horror and the sublime in literature. Literary influences include Clive Barker, Poppy Z. Brite and Thomas Ligotti. He writes dark, surreal fiction.

24 responses to “Weeping Willow”

  1. jaimiengle says :

    Thomas, as always a lyrical and deeply disturbing post. The haunting descriptions and details are what makes you such an amazing writer. Thanks for sharing…

    Like

  2. moondustwriter says :

    Feasting has its downside apparently
    This piece is wrought with anticipation and deep rooted meaning,Thomas
    I’m inspired…

    Like

  3. blazemcrob says :

    Great story, Thomas! Last night, I finished a Gothic Horror Ecological tale, and without saying anything else about it, it concerned trees. I honestly feel there is much more to our plant friends than meets the eye. And you, sir, captured it superbly. Way to go!

    Blaze

    Like

  4. Sue says :

    Pregnant doe =you grabbed me from the first sentence. Very poetic with flowing words. A beauty of a write

    Like

  5. Tyr Kieran says :

    Thomas, you always inspire with such elegant prose and wistfully dark undertones. As all your other works, I was immediately enthralled in the world you created. There’s something about consciousness in flora that is utterly fascinating. Excellent piece!

    Like

  6. Thomas Brown says :

    I do my best, Tyr! Thank you for your kind words.

    Like

  7. mari wells says :

    I loved this story, it was beautiful!!

    Like

  8. Dan Dillard says :

    Every word in its place. A sad and thoughtful piece.

    Like

  9. Joseph Pinto says :

    Apologies for the late comment on WEEPING WILLOW, Tom; I find this tale utterly compelling & mesmerizing. You’ve used beautiful strokes of prose to paint this story across my mind; every word, every passage entwined perfectly. What I love is the palpable sorrow within WEEPING WILLOW – bloated with sadness but in such a way that it transforms the dryad and her terrible yearning into a sympathetic thing. Equally horrifying!!

    Take a bow, Sir Tom; it is deserved 😉

    Like

    • Thomas Brown says :

      What a wonderful comment, Joe. I wanted to give the dryad character and feeling, so it’s great to know that you and others have felt that coming through. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts.

      Like

  10. zkullis says :

    Thomas, I loved this tale. There were so many word combinations that compounded the meanings and feelings and pulled me deeper into the story.

    “With terrible patience they pluck out delicacies…” This was so vivid for me, and so well written.

    And what of the haunted and beautiful Dryad that is so torn yet so jaded? Her story is sad and full of longing. Very well done!

    Like

  11. Eleanor says :

    Ah as always I find myself wanting more. You have an amazing talent and draw your readers in to the unknown 🙂

    Like

  12. Thomas Brown says :

    Thank you, Eleanor, that’s lovely to hear!

    Like

  13. Nina D'Arcangela says :

    Thomas, this is a beautiful piece of art in the form of expertly intertwined words. Its simply magnificent in its expression of pain, gluttony, simple desire, and denial. I weep for your lovely dryad and long for her freedom as much as I appreciate the co-dependent relationship she shares with her parent of nature. An outstanding, magnificent piece, truly! 🙂

    Like

  14. Thomas Brown says :

    It means a lot to me to read that; thank you, Nina.

    Like

  15. Hunter Shea says :

    I’m so glad I’m a city guy. Guys like you keep me away from the woods. Excellent job!

    Like

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