The Willow Tree

There once was a girl so lonely that she could not stop crying. She wept and wailed so that her mother and her sister could not console her. When all their efforts failed, not wishing to appear unkind, they suggested she go out into the garden to weep.
     It was a beautiful sunny day without a cloud to sully the sky, but it was all too much for her, so she skulked under a willow tree, where she curled herself at it’s feet and wept.
     “Why do you cry so?” asked the tree. But the girl just wailed all the more, and her tears soaked into the ground and into the roots of the tree.
     The willow reached down and stroked the girl’s hair. It felt like a soft hand caressing her, and she fell right asleep.
     The following day, the sobbing girl found herself again expelled to the garden. She scrambled straight under the willow and continued her wailing there. And her tears soaked the earth and down into the roots of the tree. And the tree reached down and stroked her hair and calmed her. The willow then lifted the girl’s chin, and the girl opened her pink, streaming eyes and gazed up at a fine handsome man.
     “Why do you cry so?” he asked.
     “I cry because I am lonely,” the girl replied.
     “Then you need cry no more,” said he, and he leant in close to her face and kissed the tears from her cheeks and from her eyelids. “Save your tears for me alone.”
     “But how do I know I will see you again?”
     “I will be here, waiting for you.”
     The next day, the girl sat under the willow, quietly waiting for the handsome fellow to show. She waited all morning and half the afternoon, and then she gave up all hope. She curled up against the trunk and trembled with tears.
     The handsome fellow reached down to her and said, “Why do you cry so?”
     “I have waited all day for you. I thought you had forgotten me!” The girl sobbed.
     “I did not know you were here,” he replied, “until I heard you cry.”
     “Well, I’m here now. Won’t you hold me?”
     “Of course. Come here,” said he.
     The girl laid her head on his shoulder. She sniffled and let her tears run down his chest. “Will you always be here for me?”
     “I will always be here to dry your tears.” He stroked her hair.
     “Always?” She stroked his chest.
     “Always,” he assured her.
     “Is that a proposal?” She smiled and ran her hands around his waist.
     “Would it make you happy?”
     “Oh,” she sobbed. And then she sobbed and sobbed some more, until he could not get wetter if he fell in a lake. He picked her up, unplanted his feet from the soil, and carried her back into the house.
     Well, the girl was never happier. She worked hard and sang all day. To her, every day was now perfect, and there was never a tear – not even a frown. But then Mr Willow started to become terribly withdrawn. He just wasn’t the man she once thought he was. She tried everything to comfort and cheer him, but to no avail.
     Then one day she stood on a hawthorn twig where she had only recently swept. Oh, how she howled! But he was there for her, to kiss away her tears, and she soon cheered back up. How lucky she was to have him!
     And then, another day, she sat on a thistle, where she had only recently dusted. Oh, how she winced! But he was right there to kiss away her tears, and she soon felt nothing of it. She was such a fortunate girl.
     After that, she took more care about the house. She found all manner of things turning up unexpectedly in places she had already cleaned with a fine toothed comb. And every time she would say, “Well, fancy that!” But he didn’t take one blind bit of notice. He just looked bored.
     “Whatever is the matter?” she asked.
     “Nothing dear,” he replied.
     “But something is wrong,” she insisted. “Please tell me what I can do.”
     “Well, if you must know, you bore me,” he said. “All your dancing around without a care in the world! It makes me sick!”
     “Oh,” she said, quite surprised. “I’m – I’m sorry. But you make me so happy. What can I do?” And she did not shed a tear.
     “Furthermore, I slept with your sister,” said he.
     “My sister and I are so much alike, it would be easy to make a mistake,” she said pleasantly. “And my sister loves you so much, she would not want to cause you embarrassment by correcting you. You have openly confessed – how could I not forgive you?”
     “But that’s not all,” he continued. “I slept with your mother”.
     “My mother is very beautiful and taught me everything I know. She gave me everything I have. I aspire to be like her every day,” she looked upon him with kind eyes. “It is understandable you would find yourself in her arms in a moment of weakness. And I could not do without my mother in my life. I shall have to forgive you both.”
     “Then you’re just a whore!” and he slapped her hard across the face.
     “I love you,” she said, but her eyes blazed with fire, “but you go too far.”
     He stepped away from her. The first time he ever had. He felt a shame burn through him, and he stepped back some more. He looked at her with sad pathetic eyes and took one more step, and he toppled backwards out of the window into the garden below.
     She stepped to the window and looked down at the willow tree stood below her window. Then she ran downstairs and went to fetch the axe.

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The Three Little Pigs At Christmas

“Have mercy, Mr Wolf!” he cried.

“But I must eat, Mr Pig,” spoke the wolf, softly in his ear. “This is nothing personal.”

“But who will look after my wife?” panted the pig, his throat wet with the  wolf’s tongue.

“You think me a monster? I will take care of her,” said the wolf. “Now lie still, and I will make this quick.”

Well, the wolf kept true to his word, and provided for the wife of the poor pig. And then, one day, Mrs Pig bore three little piglets. And the wolf provided for them, and saw that they grew up pink and plump. And then, one day, the three little pigs came of age and Mrs Pig sent her boys out into the big bad world.

The three little pigs ambled down the lane away from their mother’s house and, after a long time, perhaps a short time in truth, the first little pig spied a field full of straw.

“Life is for leisure,” said the little pig. “The work is half done! I shall build my home here.”

His two brothers shook their heads and said, “Little brother, be wise!”

But the little pig replied, “Shoo, you two, the sooner I can sleep!”

And so they left him to his house of straw and trotted down the lane a little more. After a long time, or perhaps a short time in truth, the second little pig spied a woodpile in the corner of a field.

“One must be sensible, but one should never work too hard, but have faith that the Lord will provide and protect us. The work is half done, I shall make my home here.”

“Be wise,” urged his brother. “Can you be certain your faith will be rewarded?”

“You fret too much, my dear brother,” replied the second pig. “One shouldn’t toil needlessly. Show a little faith!”

And so the third little pig left his brother to his house of sticks and continued down the lane.

Well, along came the wolf one day, down that very lane, and there he spied a house of straw, a curly tail protruding out the door. ‘What a foolish little pig!’ said the wolf to himself. ‘Why, he may as well put himself on someone’s table – and that someone might as well be me as anybody else!” And he huffed and he puffed and he blew that house across the field. The little pig shrieked and scampered as fast as his little legs could take him.

The wolf laughed as he watched the little pig go, and strolled further down the lane, whereupon he came to a field in which he spied a little house of sticks and, furthermore, there were two curly pink tails poking out the door.

‘My word, how foolish these two little pigs!’ he said to himself. ‘They might as well both clamber onto the kitchen table – and it might as well be mine as anybody else’s.’ And he huffed and he puffed and the house of sticks rattled it’s way across the field in pieces. The two little pigs squealed and tumbled down the road in a frightful panic.

The wolf laughed as he watched them go, then he strolled down the lane until he came upon a little red brick house.

As he approached it, he heard the most awful screeching like someone was being slaughtered, and so he crept quietly up to the door and peered through the keyhole. There he saw the three little pigs merrily singing at the piano. And the words they sang were in mockery of him. And his ears burned as his blood boiled.

He knocked at the door, but the little pigs did not hear him and they kept right on with their unneighbourly rumpus.

So the wolf punched through the little glazed window in the door and pushed his head through. The pigs stopped their racket and looked at the slavering snout with the greedy eyes poking into their safe little house of bricks.

“Little pigs! Little pigs! Let me in!”

The pig whose house it was jumped behind the piano and the other two followed him, shaking and trembling. Then he said “Come on, push, you lazy pigs!” and he put his shoulder to it and he huffed and he puffed and he shunted the piano up to the door. He jammed it right up against the wolf’s snout, and the wolf’s ears were chaffed as his head popped back out of the door.

Well, he was livid, I can tell you!

He huffed and he puffed, but the house made of bricks stood resolute and firm. So he took a deeper breath. And he blew and he blew. At last the house began to look unsteady.  So he gulped a breath so deep he thought his balls would burst, and he let the house have it. His ears blew back as the force of his breath bounced back at him. Then the house began to sway about wildly. The wolf could not keep his feet. He staggered around and fell to the ground and the world span fast around him.

When the tumult in his head settled down, he sat up and looked at the house made of bricks. It stood just as sound as it always had, and the ground had stopped heaving and hawing.

The wolf paused a moment and chewed at his claws. And then circled the house three times, studying it’s every facet. And then he considered the white picket fence about the house and he set about tearing it out of the ground.

The three little pigs watched him in horror. They stacked chairs upon the piano up against the front door. They bolstered the back door with a bed. All the windows were shuttered against a raging storm.

The wolf took a length of fence round the back of the house and propped it up and climbed onto the roof. The three little pigs trembled when they heard him stomping about above them. And then they heard his snout sniffing at the top of the chimney. The third little pig, whose house it was, dashed to the hearth and built a fire as quickly as he could, which was just in time!

The wolf was halfway down the chimney when his tail caught fire, and he clawed his way frantically back up the chimney and jumped off the roof. He ran about the yard slapping his arse and shouting his head off like a rabid lunatic.

The wolf skulked back home feeling rather foolish. He ate a cat to console himself and then he sat by the fire and lit his pipe and cast his mind adrift. And then he poured himself a brandy and, as he watched the smoke swirl about his snout, an idea began to form.

The next day, the pig’s woke up to see the trees around their house decorated with all manner of shining baubles and glittering stars. “Oh my goodness!” they yelped, “It’s Christmas!” and they ran scampered about the house making festive preparations.

That evening, there was a carol singer from the Salvation Army under one of the decorated trees, howling his carols most frightfully. The pigs did not notice his singed tail. They excitedly set the house ready for Santa Claus’s visit. They doused the fire and set him a chair and a bottle of brandy and some mince pies and went to bed early.

The wolf saw the lights in the house go out. He saw the chimney no longer smoking and he crept quietly onto the roof. He snook down the chimney and woke them from their beds. And he really gave them what for! He chased them round and round the house kicking their arses as they whirled round the room until they could not run any longer.

As they sat each to his own corner of the room huffing and puffing, the wolf sized each of them up. And then he spied by the hearth a handsome chair with a plate of mince pies and a bottle of brandy and a glass attending it. The wolf circled the chair three times and sat himself down. “Thank you for the hospitality,” he smiled as he poured himself a brandy and turned to the three frightened little pigs. “Now I’m not an unreasonable fellow. Perhaps you can decide between you which one of you is going into the oven?”

The Fierce Lover

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There once was a woman who thought she loved a man. It was the fiercest feeling she had ever known, and her heart would never be still. When he was there, she could not sleep at all, and when he wasn’t there, she slept less than that, tearing at her nightdress all the while.

In the wee small hours she thought she felt his body pressed against hers, his arms enfolding her, but the bed was cold and empty. She rose from her restless pillow and stepped across the room in the moonlight. She stood at the window looking at the moon, and then she hopped up onto the window ledge. She bobbed her head this way and that, took one last look behind her, spread her great feathered wings and flew out of the window into the night.

She arrived outside his house and perched in the tree outside his window. She peered into the soft candlelight, her keen eyes spied a nightdress laid out on the bed. She choked with grief and felt she could have fallen dead on the ground right there and then. “Who?” She cried. “Who?!” She flew back home so fast her little heart almost burst, and she landed on her bed and cried and cried all night and right through the day.

Then, in the wee small hours, she thought she heard his voice whisper in the dark. She could not discern his words, and she feared they were not intended for her ears. She rose from her restless pillow and stepped across the room in the moonlight. She looked up at the moon, then crawled up the curtains and hung in front of the window listening to the night. Then she spread her black leathery wings and fluttered into the dark.

When she arrived at his house, she hung from a branch outside his window and her keen ears heard him say, “I love you! I love you! Be mine! Be mine!” She shrieked with fright and fled blindly away. She clawed herself back into bed and cried like all the tortured souls in Hell.

And then, the next night, in the wee small hours she thought she could smell roses so strongly the whole bed must be festooned with them, but there were no roses at all on the sheets, just a few petals of blood. She rose from her restless pillow and stepped across the room in the moonlight. She sprang up onto the window ledge and looked at the moon. She scratched at the wood and stretched, then spread her whiskers out into the night air and pounced into the dark. She arrived at his house and pressed her little nose to the key hole. Her keen nose could smell a perfume very unlike hers, with oils so rare and exotic she could never afford. She felt so shabby and ashamed that she skulked off home dragging her sullen tail in the dirt all the way.

And then she spent the whole day fretting so hard that she bit down her nails until they bled, and she ground her teeth until they bled, and she cried and cried until her eyes bled. Needless to say, her nightdress hung from her in tatters.

And then she rose from her restless pillow and she stepped across the room in the moonlight, and she leant out of the window and looked up at the moon. She let out a murmur, which turned into a growl. Her hackles raised, she opened her jaws and howled and leapt out into the night.

She ran and she ran, faster and faster, her paws tearing great scars into the earth. She arrived at his house with such fury, the front door took a great leap out of it’s frame and tottered across the room, crashing into a table and chairs.

The young man’s hair stood on end. He grabbed the first thing to hand – a box -and threw it at her. It hit her between the eyes and sprung open. Out fell a brand new beautiful nightdress and it billowed down over her head.

He picked up another box – much smaller – and threw that too. It bounced off her snout and opened, and out flew a little bottle and smashed on the floor, splashing her with exotic oils from distant shores.

The next thing to hand was a gilded cage. He threw it without a thought and it crashed against her fangs. A little door sprang open and out flew a little bird. “I love you! I love you! Be mine! Be mine!” it sang as it flew around the room.

There was nothing else to hand he could throw, and she pounced upon him and pinned him to the floor, panting at him, her tongue in his face.

And there she was, naked in her own skin, on her hands and knees above him. “Oh, I could just eat you!” she said, and she fell upon him, into his arms.

The Four Suitors

There was once a very pretty girl who lived in a cottage by the river. Her mother and father had passed away, leaving her the little house and a tidy bit of land, but there was so much work to do, she had no time for courting.

One day, when she was cutting a little irrigation channel off the river, she paused to watch the sunlight dance on the water. She was quite mesmerised by it dazzling her eyes. And then she heard the river speak to her. “Marry me,” it chuckled, “and I will keep your crops watered, keep a steady turn of your mill wheel and look after your ducks and always run true and clear for you. I will never let you down.”

The girl said, “My dear mother and father are no longer here to consult on the matter, so you must give me time to consider your offer.”

The next day, she was picking apples from the tree, and the fresh sweet air filled her lungs, and the droplets of dew on the hard pink skin, and the sun dappling the leaves quite mesmerised her. And the the tree whispered to her, “Marry me, and I will shelter your crops from the harsh sun and prevent the wind from scouring your land and taking the roof from your house. I will provide a home to the birds that they may sing to you every morning, and bestow you with fruit in abundance.”

“As I have no mother or father to consult,” said the girl, “you must give me time to carefully consider your offer.”

The following day, she was hanging out her washing, and she paused to watch a little bird weave it’s way thru’ the sheets and clothes, and his singing, quite naturally, mesmerised her, and then he landed on the peg she held in her hand and she heard him speak to her.

“Marry me, marry me,” tweeted the little bird, “and I will pick the flies from your crops and sing to you every morning so that you always awaken with a smile.”

“Give me time, give me time, little bird,” she replied. “It is such a lot to consider.”

The day after that, she was tending her sweetpeas, and she paused to watch a little bee move about the flowers. His soft buzzing as he busied about his work quite mesmerised her. And then he came and landed on her finger and she heard him speak to her.

“How sweet life would be if you would just marry me,” hummed the bee. “I would pollinate your crops and make you such sweet fragrant honey, and life would be a dream.”

“Allow me time to dwell on that dream,” said the girl.

And then, the next day, a handsome young man came along. He wore the finest clothes and rode a beautiful white stallion. He was surely the handsomest fellow she had ever seen. She gazed upon the sunlight in his hair, his broad, sheltering shoulders, his strong, protective arms, and his big blue eyes quite mesmerised her, and he came right out with it. “Will you marry me?” he warmly smiled, and right away she agreed. And, there and then, his feet were straight under the table and his shoes under the bed.

And in the bed they happily lay, their limbs entwined, when the tree threw itself down on the house and crashed thru’ the roof. The pair jumped out of bed and ran downstairs into the kitchen and found it flooded up to their knees, the table and chairs floating about the room. They waded outside and found every head of corn picked clean. She heard the little bird above her and looked up and, from high above her, it tipped it’s tail and smote her in the eye. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the bee came and stung her on her nose.

She looked at the handsome fellow by her side. She gazed upon his broad sheltering shoulders, his strong protective arms, his big blue eyes and the sunlight in his hair. “Ah, well,” he smiled. “I’d best be off then.” And so he left her. And this is the end of my tale.

Driving Home For Christmas

The snow was getting thicker all the time. He wasn’t sure he could see more than ten yards ahead. The windscreen wipers lulled him, a hypnotists watch. Soporific splots of falling stars swept away to dreamland.

In the darkness, he looked at the driver next to him. He’s just the same, slumped on the wheel. He fumbled at the door and pushed his reflection into the cold night air, clambered out into the snow. The windscreen a spray of diamonds, the bonnet a crumpled blanket. He staggered down the highway. Picked up the emergency phone.

“Honey, you were right. The roads are impassable. No, it doesn’t look like it’s gonna ease up anytime soon… Yeah… yeah, I’ll find a motel room. I’ll be okay.
Look, I just wanted to say I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have…yes, I love you too, darling… Yes, kiss them for me… I’ll see how the roads are in the morning. No…it’s okay…yeah, I found one…tell them that Santa might be delayed a little with all the snow… Yes, I love you too, darling. Merry Christmas.”

He replaced the receiver on the hook, pulled his collar up around his ears and walked into the snowblind night.

Midwinter Lullaby

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It’s the longest night of the year
And there’s no Christmas spirit
There’s no winter cheer
Gonna save your weary heart
From the fears
That tear it apart

When you hear church bells chime four
When that mocking full moon
Has skipped by your door
Here’s a song I wrote just for you
In the hope it helps
To see you thru

So sleep, little angel, don’t howl at the moon
Benzodiazapin will bring you sleep soon
But if those little pills let you down
Just call me
I’m always around

Just sitting here
On the longest night of the year

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