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The Lonely Willow Tree ~ DemonicWolf & Daisuke Mitsuharu
The boat was like driftwood on the shore, letting the waves carry it as it pleased, the driver in front of me simply stared into the distance, the paddle occasionally crashing into the waves to keep the vessel moving in some form of direction. The air seemed to grow thicker as we approached one enlarged cracked emerald of a place, such gross green jungle trees enveloped the island like a high stone wall, my view distorted by such a monstrosity of the forest. I had half hoped for something daintier than this; though I suppose that this'll do. But don't get me wrong; this is not the island I had dreamt about retreating too for my time away from the busy city life and my boring love life. It took me by surprise that my cousin would live at such a desolate setting as this. With the winds blowing ever colder, it was evident that winter was soon to come. But I didn't distress. Though hesitating at first, my heart was set. Alas, the icy winds were the least of my worries. Much to my surprise, a rather brutish stood before me, impregnable as an iron wall. I felt compelled to run, however my curiosity refrained me from turning back, and with such grace did I land upon the shore with my tropical choice of clothing, making a positive point on my behalf.
Stepping onto solid ground, I am instantly presented with the looming entrance of a dusty old road, with overgrown leaves shadowing the path. The beach is primarily bits of broken twigs and sharpened rocks, aligned and stacked, spreading out across the pale yellow sand. Every step felt like I was walking unwillingly into another world. The old wooden thing had alread vanished from my sight, leaving me with the silent sounds of a rumbling tummy. My first step is a bold one. A large stride puts me into a world of darkness so suddenly, that the beautiful sapphire sea is no more than a distant memory. I take another step and stop to listen to attend to the silence once more.
Trudging rather begrudgingly through a labyrinth of twisting roads, I hear the soft rustles of leaves, lithely undulating with the rather frosted breeze. It was a doleful memento of my dear garden, shrubbery now engulfed in flames. Despite being within the city, my home was my retreat from my labouring life and my garden was my life. Yet as I look up, I see that these are not the blossoms that I had nurtured, nor the perennials that I had picked fruit from. These were brutes of the forest, wild and untamed, the carnivores and the prey standing tall and proud over the tiny weeds and bushes that were enveloped in coils of briers and undergrowth.
Reaching a rather quaint peninsula surrounded by some lavish ruby red roses settles my stomach somehow, just knowing there is a little luminosity in the gloom means my mind can rest with no cares. It's a rather poetic scene, rather like something from an incomprehensible creation by the famous Shakespeare. I stare into the pond for a few seconds admiring how still the water flows; such a small pond has given to that around it. My fixed gaze is interupted by the sound of hooves from a fair distance away.
As if some angel has fallen from the heavens, I run to wherever I believe the sound has come from, terrified of being followed by some insensitive demon of the woods. I stumble as I brush past the thick branches, spinning to a stop as I reach the high-road. Stepping into the warm light feel simply magnificent, the roads no longer keep me as a prisoner and I am free to wonder under the glowing sun, it's golden gleam shining in my face once more, despite how dim it may be.
A lone horse carriage stands among the forsaken road, all alone, no driver is seated at the front, and all that remains is the vessel itself and it’s method of moving. Two pitch black horses stable themselves, each respectively facing away from the shore and towards a small hill only noticeable by the thin shades of brown behind the sudden appearance of a thick fog. With the god- forsaken fog blockading my view, I deemed that it d be fairly tough to press on, and yet as my thoughts rumble in my head, the horses behind me whinny their complaints at my leave so suddenly that it feels as though they have invaded my own thoughts like a rat. Their cries leave me wondering whether these horses were sent or are just lost, but I opted not going along with my second option, for the only occupant on this island is, surprisingly, my cousin himself. Why did he choose this setting for his grand demeanour? I clamber onto the carriage, tripping over one of the loose bits of wood as I manage to sit down comfortably. As I breathe a quick sigh of relief, my new feeling of relaxation is extinguished as the horses dramatically take off, the sound of their clomping hooves on the gravel road signifying it’s movement, and a new sense of relief spreads over me, just knowing that my cousin expected me to end up there suggests there was no other way off the shore. Surely he shall explain everything to me upon my arrival.
Constant are the sounds of bumps and holes dug into the ground by natural causes making such a racket that my head is throbbing with pain. I plan to take a lovely bath when I get in to soak away the pains of travelling, the sights I’ve seen today, and who knows perhaps there shall be some delicious gateaux just waiting for me as I arrive. My pretty dress also needs a good wash.
Passing feels like some eccentric fairground ride, the sights around merely a blur as you whiz away at top speed escaping from natural reality, escaping into a world of what you could believe isn’t real physics, like you are breaking the laws itself and spiralling into a world of your own. Such a surreal sight I see before my eyes, the dark greens and browns whiz by, and are replaced by a sudden damp grey, and a slight blur of blue. The open sky lies before me at last, something I haven’t seen this clearly in a while. The sky is so vast an empty and for so long it remains, such a fuse of two colours allows my trail of thought to remain still for a while on a single thought which is rare for me as I am often tossed between different thoughts and ideals. The boring sketch there is relaxing strangely, as if everything I’ve seen today has just changed too dramatically for me to cope with a single changing scene; I suppose my mind and heart isn’t as set as I thought it was. The scene suddenly turns dark. I suppose I missed sunset behind the grey lines.
The sky is as dark as the horses themselves, that it makes such things blend in with the upcoming scenery. The iron fence I can see coming into my view as I poke my head out of the old broken window, which I assume wasn’t meant to be a window at first due to the misconfigured shape, has silver strands so thing and sharp, connected by an elongated string of metal binding it all together, and at the base is a black basalt plinth. The earth around is of a muddy brown colour, patches of extremely short grass take their place here and there trying to make life to that around it. I don’t hear the sounds of a gate opening, unless it was silent, but it appears we were already expected and the gates had been opened primarily for us. My jaw drops as we approach the manor in question.
It was such a beautiful building. At first glance, one could easily mistake it as being a tree itself. The actual manor is humongous, spreading it’s distance along the muddy garden, leaving no such space for shrubs and plants, reaching a hefty three floors if you count each stacked window as a floor. The tree itself is a huge willow tree looming over the house and covering it from the top in various hanging leaves. Every window must have a view of these lavish leaves, for they drop right to ground level and has a distinct pink glow to them, making them unmistakable even in the darkness of dusk. The trunk of this terrific tyrant is so wide and distinguishable from the world that it makes it the most beautiful thing in this whole island; it’s shape like some beautifully coloured string wrapped around each other, spiralling upwards to a break where it’s branches spread out like fireworks, then releasing their leaves like a fireman’s pole into the world. You could imagine a hero sliding down from those leaves to protect the manor from the despicable flames, the very ones that took my garden. The house itself is rather old, built of stone bricks of a different assortment like a cottage, yet the size makes it seem like more of a castle, and the bricks are far darker than any cottage brick; a very dark grey colour proceeds to make it’s recurrence in this place. A rather ominous double door rests in its place at the foot of the door where it remains ready to swallow any guests. I gulp at the sight of this foolish willow tree, the saviour of this hungry house. The cart rears to a stop.
Without hesitating I hop off the old thing and I am down to ground level; I’m able to see the garden around me, surprisingly the willow and the plants here do not correspond with each other; the grass seems so pale like some incomprehensible illness striking at the core of the stomach, a pale face marking it out to erase all dignity from the subject (unbeknownst to the sick, a remedy being far out of reach.) The small pockets of flowers that grow consist of black roses, nothing more, and are scattered in the strangest of places, one near the tree, one in the open, one even through the cracks in the cobblestone, a few curving around a broken log, and often I find myself gazing back at these roses, as if some impure diamond had been covered in the ink of a squid blockading them from an audience viewing their true lavish colours. I recall the roses I had seen in the forest, those gorgeous ruby roses, thriving of the small capacity of the most peculiarly persistent water source. Life could come to this garden to, had it a gardener.
After gathering my small collection of things, I make my way down the winding path, up the small hill to the front doors of the colossal structure, daunting, albeit dainty. The willow tree consists in my head as I knock twice on the door, hoping for a swift response to the call. Despite my eagerness to see my cousin I was rather reluctant to enter as an old decrepit man opens the door suddenly. He was dressed in the most glamorous suit, boasting his wealth and formality, yet his face was old and his face was a prune, his teeth sticking out in places, his moustache all riled up in knots and tangles as if two cats were entangled by each other’s whiskers. He strayed closer to my face, and with a tone so crooked and certainly quite breathless he spoke.
“You must be the new arrival. Come on in, Miss?”
“Jasmine,” I say heartily, accepting the man’s hand as he begins to guide me to where I am supposedly expected. The interior design is impeccable; gold and white colours are splashed around carelessly staining brightness on the inside. Marble columns are aligned every few paces on the walls that they stick out ever so slightly like a breezy hill, the stairs aligned near a larger column that seems to separate a corridor and the stairway equally. I am taken into a corridor to the right, a large and spacious thing, the doors decorated with the same white marble and golden lining as before. The patterns seem so similar to each other.
As I enter one of the doors, I see a single candle lit in the dark within the room. It’s not incredibly dark, enough to see where you are going, and the candle certainly aids me in that aspect. There lies a large fluffed sofa, aligned with cushions arrayed with such a neat and precise manner, however unlike the other rooms, this one, disregarding the darkness, has a much darker tone. I can see browns, and greys, the walls being black and do not have that marble texture as decoration, instead the walls remain as a solid single paste reforming the room to just a box shape. The floor is of a smooth wooden texture, placed in planks to give some unique definition to the room. Apart from the sofa, there is only a table remaining, a small one with a glass desk supported by brown wooden beams.
“Miss Jasmine, I’m so glad you are here.” I didn't notice him before, but my cousin is actually sitting on the sofa I was studying, and the man who assisted me here is no longer here, for I was almost certain he entered with me, shutting the doors too behind him. His voice is much deeper than I remember; so much passion I can hear yet a subtle sound of sadness.
“It took me a while, the jungle was treachery to get through,” I reply, my tone firm and strong. He looks at me, pointing to a seat on the sofa. It is rather wide so I manage to sit at least a seat away from him so we aren't both compressed against each other.
“Indeed, the jungle is one of the problems of this island; I will quite surely have to make a dock. Must remember to do that,” he says as if lost in thought.
“Why are we in the dark?” I ask, due to my curiosity, I would very much be willing to know why we must sit in this small room, with simply a candle.
“It’s to help and relax my dear cousin, breath in the fumes slowly, and then you exhale it, releasing all tension from your body. I often spend hours just sitting here in this tedious room with the company of the candle.” From this passage of speech it is understandable that my cousin has stress related problems which is perfectly understandable in a setting such as this. We begin to talk about everything we had done as a child, about our trip to South London by ourselves, our mother’s worried sick about us. We have a fantastic time laughing at each other’s moments.
“Do you remember Johnathon Harvey from our elementary school?” I question him due to the strange things that had happened to that child. He stops drinking his tea for a second, inhaling slowly for a small break, releasing carefully and quietly.
“Yes I do, what of the child?” He replies albeit harsher than he has been so far.
“I heard he died a year after he was beaten up, due to physical liver damage. It’s a shame they didn’t catch the culprit to that case.” His face seems to drop slowly; is it remorse? Pity? Surely it is not guilt. He stands suddenly subsequently putting his half drank tea on the table.
“I’m going to bed now, goodnight dear cousin.” What had provoked him to get up and leave so rudely without a formal ‘good night.’ Although I can’t argue with him, for him being family, though I would very much have likes to quiz him on the matter. He exits the room, and the old man from earlier makes his appearance, guiding me once again to another location in the house.
This time I am taken up the stairs to the second floor where I am presented with an equally stretched corridor as the last, the marble sights returning once more to my attention as I am led down, wavering through the darkness, lit only by a few weak oil lamps positioned in an array of positions, one even on the floor with a rusty nail sticking out of the placeholder. I am led to a different door, which the man explains will be ‘my room for the night.’ I swear we arranged for me to stay here for a week or so, yet I push it of regardless as a muddle up of words.
I enter the room with sudden desperation for a decent view, I am not disappointed. The room is so similar to the corridors, aligns with bright white and gold colours unlike those of the old tuckered room with the lit candle. It was so much more comfortable. A warm bed is in place central of the room with a fluffy pillow to rest my weary woeful head from a day of tiresome travelling. A large array of wardrobes and chests are arranged at the back for a plentiful amount of space, and a few baskets and a rather quaint dressing table resides at the front, the colours very pearl like with a tint of a topaz colour sparkled here and there. I slump on the bed, ever so soft and comfortable, and I am instantly drifting to sleep. My scrunched up complexion loosens a little as I feel safe in the warmth of a comfy domain, and yet I know the door is unlocked; I don’t fear anything here. The comfort fills me with so much energy, yet I seem to be able to fall asleep momentarily regardless.
I wake suddenly with the sound of glass shattering against a tough surface. I sit up, my ears perked, my mouth closed. My breathing is heavy but controlled. I look around my room, yet to no avail do I see anything of interest. I let my legs drop down the side of the bed and my covers fly off my body. I stand into my old slippers. They were my Grandma’s long ago, such a dainty old lady she was, always smiling and happy with everything even when her beloved husband died. She smiled throughout the whole funeral, and some people thought it was disrespectful. It wasn’t, it was what he had wanted truly. The slippers had always been a keepsake of that joy she held, yet never did they truly seem to pass down any joy, just bad memories of her funeral.
I walk carefully to the door and press my ear against its wooden surface, only to hear the sound of more crashing and banging from downstairs. Surely someone had to have heard? I open the door like some incomprehensible rabbit, closing it shut behind me biting my lip with the fear of waking the dead. The corridor is empty, leaving no trails of anyone passing by earlier. There’s no rush, or perhaps each room is just empty. Not a single person can be heard through my ears but the repetitive crash of glass and china. I see my cousin’s face all of a sudden in my mind’s eye, and as if I had just seen my future I begin to run, I’m now running faster than the wind itself, I am the wind. I take fast paces down the stairs in quick succession reaching the penultimate corridor in no time to the final door leading towards the source of the noise. I dash forward for the door, swinging it sideways swiftly to reveal my fears.
I stare, my mouth dropped open. The crashes were no more. As far as I can see are several scattered bodies of cooks; I’m in the Kitchen, yet with some fulfilling purpose to some old memory of the day earlier. My cousin sits on one of the dusty stoves, his back facing away from me as if he was about to partake in an action scene for a horror movie.
“What is this?” I ask, a question obvious to one’s eyes yet he knows this truly. He knows I’m simply shocked by the predicament. He knows I know what he did.
“All those years ago, that little boy Johnathon… I killed him, cousin.” He turns to me as my face goes as cold as ice with anticipation, his face covered in the blood of what he had murdered ruthlessly in the previous minutes. He has that look, that melancholy look like some old horse, miserable albeit taunting. He stands slowly, a knife with the colour of those ruby roses painted across the metal blades, and faces me, standing still for a second or two.
“And I won’t live with myself for doing such a thing. And now you know too, so the word might spread after my demise. I simply cannot do with that.” He grins maliciously. I am utterly lost for words. I sink to the floor, my eyes filled with tears. There’s no point running, for there would be nowhere to go. The emerald in a sapphire sea, no more do I belong here. No I don’t want to die, I don’t. I don’t want to die slowly either.
“I’m glad I got to see you again,” I say as my tears streamed down my cheek. He moves closer, and with every strep it feels as though my whole world is caught in the mightiest earthquake, every step is that of a giant’s shaking the ground sending fear into those below him…
My hands fill with my own blood which stream from my stomach as I attempt to compress the wound, yet my frail hands cannot do such a thing. My vision, albeit blurry, shows me that besides me lies my end, the throat slit open as an act of suicide. That willow tree, was not something of beauty I see, too me now as I lie here feeling remorse for myself, I understand now it was merely an attraction, like how the beautiful flowers grow and the buzzy bees flock to their pretty petals. This is my warning. Do not enter the territory of the lonely willow tree, madness resides in places it shouldn't.
The words written are a precise reconstruction of her words recorded during her last stand. Miss Jasmin died 1980 along with her cousin Mr. Ruby. No funeral was every organised. ~ Thanks for reading.