Under the Willow

by April Hines

Once there was a small farmers town where everyone knew each other’s name. The men wore suits or braces while the women wore dresses of vibrant colours.

On one of the small farms lived two girls, Willow and Amy. Everyone loved Amy. She had petite lips, blue eyes and honey blonde hair that shone like the sun. Her laugh was sweet and wonderful. Boys dreamed of marrying her, but they would never get the chance.


The church halls echoed with the dismal organ music. Willow looked down at her feet; tears fell silently down her freckled cheeks. Her best friend, her only sister. Dead … but not quite …

Amy was buried in the town square, beneath the willow tree. Each day Willow sat lonely in the dry grass, sadly making daisy chains as she remembered her sister.

Benjamin walked into the town square; willow leaves swayed in the breeze, blessing the grave with a mystical touch. He liked seeing what Willow did each day. He spotted her at the base of the mahogany brown trunk, reading a thick book with a tatted leather cover.

“Hello …” Benjamin mumbled.

“Oh! Hello Benjamin!” Willow replied with a sad smile on her tanned face.

“D-d-do y-you want um … to come to uh, my house?” Benjamin stuttered

“I’d like that very much,” Willow said.


At Benjamin’s house, he pulled out two white-and-blue bowls, in which he placed large spoonfuls of ice-cream.

They ate the ice-cream sitting together on the wooden fence in the sun.

“Benjamin, do you have any paints?” Willow asked

“Yes of course, I’ll get them for you,” he replied, running back into the house.

He came back carrying a canvas, some paints, and a brush.

Immediately after setting up, Willow began to paint. Her hands gracefully moved the brush around, delicately creating shapes. Colours switched between blues and greens. She painted the huge willow tree in the town square. Benjamin watched as she dipped the brush in paint as green as the eyes he found so beautiful. But when he tried to look into those eyes, they were shut.

Willow continued painting, filling the canvas with colour.

He had never seen anyone paint like that before. His mind filled with uncertainty, he moved back towards the gate, faster and faster. Then he turned and ran.

He ran into town. Along the long road with tall hedges with pink and yellow flowers, he took a turn left past the bakery, then right through an alleyway that led to Mozart Street. He stopped at number six, the home of his best friend, Lingo. Benjamin frantically knocked on the grand white door.

“Yes?” answered a boy with white, neatly combed hair, brown eyes and perfectly straight teeth. His clothes were grand and his shoes were shiny, very different to the clothes Benjamin was wearing.

“H-her eyes! Th-they’re closed as she paints!” Benjamin puffed, sweat dripping from his forehead.



Lingo’s eyes widened, becoming the size of ping-pong balls. He took steps backward and closed the door in shock, but he was not as shocked as Willow when she finished painting and opened her eyes.

Where was Benjamin?


Willow’s eyes darted around. “Benjamin? If this is a joke, it is so not a funny one!” she called out to the yard. “Really … I do not like this. I’m starting to worry.”

Minutes passed before she finally decided that he must’ve left her and that this was an incredibly sad day indeed. Willow hung her head low and started to totter her way to the front gate.

But it was too sad. She couldn’t help herself.

She flopped onto the shamrocks and the India-green grass, weeping, crying, devastated. Suddenly, rough material covered her face. She tried to look around, but all she could see was the hessian sack that someone had pulled over her head …


Benjamin couldn’t get the whispers out of his mind: 



“How would she feel?” 


They were right.

He bolted back to his house and ran into his backyard. As he had expected, she wasn’t there.

He then decided to see if she was in her own home. He knocked on her door so hard that his knuckles grazed with the force on the hard wood.

The door opened slightly to reveal a woman in a dirty black dress that went down to her shins.

“Who are you?” Her voice was croaky, and her eyes were red and watery.

“Benjamin,” he answered. “I’m looking for Willow Simonson.”


“She lives here?”


“Is there any chance I could see her?”

The woman slammed the door in his face.

“Ma’am, this is important!”

All he heard back was footsteps.

He took a step backward, then slowly headed away from the front door. He was almost at the front gate before he heard


It was the woman.

His head snapped around to face her. She held a book in her hands as she stood in front of the doorway. He jogged slowly back.

“I am Willow and Amy’s mama. You call me Eleanora,” she said. “Why are you looking for Willow?”

Benjamin replied in a low voice, describing what had happened, how he felt about what had happened, and how he felt about Willow.

“I see,” the mother said. “Look at the book, see the pictures. My sister painted them for us.”

Benjamin took the book from her hands and opened it to the first page.

The first painting was of a much younger version of the woman who sat below the willow tree. She had long honey blonde hair like Amy that fell straight, though the right half was pulled to the left slightly. She had brown eyes and a great big toothy smile. Instead of being black, her dress was bright white. She was holding hands with a young man with dark coloured skin and kind bright blue eyes. His hair was mahogany brown; he wore a dirty white buttoned up shirt and a black suit with no sleeves; and he had silver glasses that you usually see on grandads.

“That is my wedding day with Amos. Oh, my dear, dear Amos,” Eleanora said, sobbing. After a few seconds, Eleanora shook her head and sniffed, “Keep going.”

Benjamin turned the page; the couple were holding hands with two young children. One was Willow, he could tell from her green eyes, mahogany brown hair that was pulled back into a ponytail by a green ribbon, slightly dark skin and billions of freckles on her face. In the painting, she had a pink dress with yellow dots that made her seem very cheerful. The other girl was taller; she wore a lime green dress with pink dots. Her hair was out with a pink headband.

“Amy, Willow, Amos …” Eleanora whimpered, closing the book and holding it to her chest.

“Do you know where I can find Willow?” Benjamin asked once more.

“Graves,” she whispered, as she opened the door of the house and walked inside. “With the graves.”

Oh yes! That’s where! Benjamin thought, rushing to the grave below the willow tree, the only grave he knew that Willow would often visit.


He stopped in front of a blazing fire that was situated in front of the willow tree. All he could hear was cheering, chanting, roaring, laughing.

“Ahh, Benjamin, my friend!” He heard Lingo’s voice yell over the noise. “We just lit it. Don’t worry, now! There are no witches for you to be bothered by!”

“What witch?!” Benjamin yelled

“Willow, don’t you remember telling me? You said ‘Her eyes! Their closed as she paints.’”

“W-W-W-Willow is i-in the f-f-fi-fire?!” Benjamin squeaked.

“Yes!” Lingo screamed in his ear before stomping off to join the ‘fun’ and cheering.

Unfortunately for the crowd, it had slowly become dark and one by one, everyone slowly went back home to their families and a good rest, leaving Benjamin alone to watch Willow burn to ash as he cried.

“Why?” Benjamin screamed at the smoke and flames, dropping to his knees. “Why …”

A slow crackling sound filled his ears. He looked to the willow tree, its leaves darkening, growing brown-grey. Benjamin gasped. The tree had been there for years. Benjamin heard the sound of sticks snapping.

The trunk had split …


Wind blew from the willow tree; bright lights rammed into his eyes. An angelic figure stepped out of the trunk. The wind died down slowly; the blinding light did the same. The figure wore an off-the-shoulders white dress, her golden hair slightly tangled, and a tiara of willow tree leaves sat atop her head.

Amy, an angel.

She walked slowly, steadily into the flames.

Willow felt Amy’s steady hands squeeze her scarred ones. They were blackened and red from the flames. A bubble of water surrounded the two sisters, blocking them from the flames. Slowly, Willow looked down at her hands. Amy was holding them, healing them, healing her.

“Amy …” Willow said, hugging her sister tight.

Amy squeezed her sister tight for ages, then let go. She held Willow’s hands, and nodded once, then left. Ascending with the smoke into the night sky.

Rain started falling, rising in speed. Becoming a downpour.

Willow started digging herself out of the wood when the fire sizzled out.

“Willow!” Benjamin cried, running over to her and helping her out of the rubble.

“I-I’m so sorry, I–” Benjamin started, before Willow cut him off.


He knew he was forgiven.