The Weather Tree
By: Lauren Thompson
Crispin sat against the willow tree. Book in hand he calmly sketched the various flowers and plants along the pond. The veins of the leaves, the ruffled cuts of a flower petal. His pencil danced across the page. Wind blew through the trees, caressing his skin and flowing through his brown hair. Sun rays peaked down onto the small pond giving it a sparkling glow. Cripsin took a deep breath through his nose. He leaned his head back on the tree, feeling the prickling surface of the bark press into his scalp. Who would prefer the city over this?
Crispin thought of his two older brothers, slaving away in the banks of Swansea. The clinking of coins, the rustling of people, the many voices, it all was just too tiring to think of. He was once a banker just like his brothers, bringing in a fortune to their household. He was even set to marry a rich man’s daughter…. Crispin took another deep breath in an attempt to ease the weight on his chest. No that was all behind him. He was better off being alone. He had found his place, and was happy in it.
Crispin focused on the bark that pressed into his back, the cooling breeze that swept along the waters and through the trees. The wind rattled the limbs of the of the willow, making them sway back and forth. For a moment a sense of music seemed to fill his ears. Was he imagining it? The notes seemed to flow and chime. Yet, despite the lulling music, the pain in his chest seemed to manifest. Crispin stood up off the grass, plucking a leaf from the willow tree, he brought it over his heart and closed his eyes. He imagined the tightness in his chest flowing into the leaf like the soft wind in the forest flowed through the trees. Then after a deep breath, he cast the leaf into the waters of the pond.
The tightness in his chest seemed to subside. “I think it’s time I go back.” Crispin spoke aloud to no one in particular and began to walk back to his cottage.
Oriana watched as Crispin walked off. Why did he always hit a low part of his day when he was with her? She was sure if she used her branches to create light music with the wind she would help ease the pain in his heart. She looked back to the pond, at the leaf that had disappeared into the water. Suddenly Oriana’s vision blurred then refocused; she was no longer looking at the pond, but at a vast field that overlooked a small town. Clouds quickly formed in various ugly shades of gray, covering the blue of the sky. Soon sheets of rain came down upon the town, flooding the streets and causing the small buildings to disappear one by one.
Oriana thought back to the days when she was the reason rain fell and thunder cracked. The days when she was a goddess and not a tree. Back then she could spin dark wind and clouds into a funnel, spring shards of light in the sky…. all with a wave of a certain emotion….but then it all ended. The Gods ended it and stuck her in the very tree she used to spin the tides and conquer the weather.
She could no longer swirl the clouds and manipulate the tides when she wanted. She would have to wait until a god’s forsaken leaf fell from the willow and maybe, just maybe land into the waters of the pond.
Oriana strained to look again at the disappearing village but just as she could make out a woman on the outskirts, rushing to get into the house before the rain swallowed her whole- Oriana’s vision blurred once more and she found herself back at the small clearing, gazing at the world shaped pond.
Crispin looked at the small cottage that sat in the middle of the woods. Covered in luscious vines of wisteria and roses. He entered the house, taking off his boots and lighting the stove so that he could cook dinner. He quickly chopped up the vegetables and herbs and dropped them into the water-filled pot. While it cooked he reread his notes about his findings earlier that day and then proceeded to check on the plants in his small conservatory.
He carefully watered the plants, trimmed their leaves and spoke to them softly as if they could hear him. He then grabbed the various leaves he trimmed and walked back to his study where he set them on his desk before turning off the stove and pouring himself a bit of his garden soup. Suddenly there was a knock on his door. “Who on earth could that be?” Crispin muttered.
At the door stood a skinny man with a horse and carriage. He stood there with a vacant look and asked, “Are you Crispin Ellerwood? Son of Daniel Ellerwood?”
“Yes I am.” Crispin responded. He scrunched his eyebrows as he saw the man produce a letter from his small satchel.
“This is for you.”
Crispin took the letter and watched as the man got back on his carriage and rode off into the forest. Quickly he opened it. Why would father send me a letter? He pulled out the piece of parchment and what lay written was “Dear Brother, I regret to inform you that father has died…..”
The letter fell from Crispin’s fingers as he collapsed to the floor. Dead. His father was dead. Memories flooded Crispins mind. His father’s love, his father’s disappointment, his father’s rage. Crispin hadn’t even talked to him in years…not since he had been disowned from the family, yet the memories came rushing back.
For the next three days, Crispin would make his way to the willow tree and stare off into the clear blue waters of the pond.
Oriana watched Crispin as he cast the leaves onto the water. The first, filled with immense sadness, brought a downpour and floods to a couple of towns on the eastern border of Elvend. On the second day Crispin cast a leaf full of anger and torment. This time thunderstorms plagued the southern continents. Oriana sat utterly still as the scenes crossed her mind. For the first time in her life she wasn’t focused on the storms but rather the people and creatures affected by it. Watching as they ran and tried to hide. Watching as the fear took hold of their souls. The pain that the storms caused on the plants, the animals. Crispin was hurting the very things he loved without realizing it.
Oriana thought about how she had been doing the same thing before she was stuck in the tree. Now it made sense. She should be stuck here.
On the third and final day, Crispin laid a leaf onto the pond waters and watched as it floated over the rocks that represented the very forest that he lived in. a Sudden cold swept through the lands. Covering the grass in a dew like frost. The trees shuddered and the leaves and flowers began to crumple.
Crispin sat still along the edge of the pond, the feelings of loneliness consuming him. Oriana stared at the scene. Gods, she wanted to help him, see the smile on his face, the love in his eyes while he sketched. She wanted to be there in his arms. Give him the emotions that caused sunshine and blue skies. Oriana closed her eyes. Please. She prayed to the Gods. Let me out. Oriana pushed with all her might against her natural prison. Against the forces keeping her contained. Suddenly Oriana’s hand burst through, then her arm, and finally the rest of her body. She felt the grass beneath her feet, the air along her cheeks. Quickly she thought about Crispin and his loving smile. She plucked a few leaves from the tree, transferred her warmth and cast them out onto the water. She then walked over to Crispin and wrapped her arms around him from behind. Giving him the warmth he had given her during the moments he spent propped up against the willow tree.
Crispin seemed to recognize this warmth and slowly he turned to look at Oriana. He looked at her beautiful blond hair and green eyes. The same green that appeared in the willow tree’s leaves. Crispin hugged her back. He didn’t need to hear an explanation just yet.
From that day forward Crispin never stopped visiting the willow tree… and its goddess.