Minstrel of the Water Willow

Minstrel of the Water Willow by Elaina J Davidson

Book: Minstrel of the Water Willow by Elaina J Davidson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Elaina J Davidson
Tags: music, Time, love, fey, Forests
Chapter
1
     
    Laughter is a
bridge between strangers
     
     
    L ines
formed an intricate map upon her face.
    She was old
now, but to him she remained ever beautiful. He knew the reasons
for her wrinkles, what she had endured in life. He had watched her
since she was two years old.
    Squatting
under the willow where the fronds swept the surface of the placid
river, he observed her kneeling with infinite care until she was
able to reach the clear pond from where she drew her drinking
water.
    So slow now,
when it felt like yesterday when she came squealing in happy
abandon down to the water’s edge, honey ringlets bouncing.
    She peered
around as if expecting someone, but he knew she was alone here. She
was not looking out for someone expected. She had been alone a long
time.
    He was the
only one who watched, although she had never seen him. Sometimes,
though, he had the clearest sense she was still aware of him,
despite her withdrawal in recent years. She no longer concerned
herself with living, only with dying, but in the past, when her
step was sprightlier and her eyesight clearer, she would gaze
across the expanse of the river directly into the shadows under the
willow. Once she even summoned him; she had known he watched. She
had not looked at his face, but she told him music meant everything
to her.
    He realised
now she listened intently to the natural silence as if hoping to
hear the notes of life itself.
    Closing his
eyes, he wished he had brought his small lyre to pick out gentle
tones, to weave them into the birdsong surrounding them.
    Eighty years
ago he was himself a boy, splashing in the shallows in summer’s
heat, when he heard the sound of laughter.
    Instantly his
mother dragged him into the trees beyond where the shadows were
dense, abandoning the cones and twigs they had gathered for the
hearth back home, but he saw her.
    A little girl
ran towards the river with her mother trailing after, admonishing
her to slow down.
    “Kell, be
quiet now,” his mother had whispered in his ear, and he had not
understood why.
    He wanted to
go to the girl. He wanted to laugh with her. She was so pretty and
so happy, so bright, so new .
    She was not as
careful as her mother had warned her to be, and fell into the
water. A tiny shriek of fear and surprise drifted across to him.
His mother was forced to hold him back when he moved to go to her
aid.
    “Silly, look
how wet you are!” Her mother, laughing, pulled her out. “Come on,
silly, let’s get you home and dry. Are you hungry?”
    They
disappeared up the gentle slope towards the old cottage no one had
lived in for many years. They held hands and laughed together as
they went.
    For a long
time he thought her name was Silly.
    The cottage
was not in view of the river, but he had seen it once. In search of
wild herbs, his father carried him across the river that day and
they passed it by. It was pretty, but needed much care to make it a
home again.
    Later he
realised her name was Erin.
    That was the
day she went and lost herself and her mother ran along the water’s
edge frantically searching for her daughter, calling, “Erin! Erin,
where are you?”
    That was also
the day his father yanked him forcibly into the shadows of the
forest and told him never to return to the river, to leave the
mother and daughter to their lives. He had already been to the
water many times hoping to catch sight of her again, and he was
told in firm words that he had proven himself too rash to wander
unsupervised.
    “She is lost!”
he shouted at his father. “She will be scared!”
    “Kell, she is
human and we do not speak to humans. They may not see us. I will
watch over her until she is found, but you will return home now .”
    Thus was that
also the day he realised he was something other . Not
human.
    It was the
worst day of his life.

Chapter
2
     
    Love cannot
measure time
     
     
    F orests
dominated the broad valley between two mighty mountain ranges, and
many rivers and streams

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