Long ago, a goblin lived beneath a willow, where daylight was green, and leaves rustled in the breeze.
His name was Willow – Will for short. He was friends with a magpie that landed on the topmost branch each day to share gossip.
One day, as Will watched a robin build a nest, the tree swayed under the weight of the magpie, fully-grown with a blue and green sheen. Will was about to salute it, “Hello Mr Magpie. How are you today and how are your wife and children?” when it croaked, “Beware!” Storm clouds drifted overhead and blocked the sun.
“Hide or run for your life!” The magpie was about to take off when a fork of lightning struck out of nowhere. The bird vanished.
Will magically blended into the bark and shut his eyes, counting under his breath to work out how far away the storm was. But no thunder came.
A poke in the ribs made him open them. Before him stood the fiercest weather witch he had ever seen.
“I need your help,” she said.
Her voice was surprisingly tuneful for a weather witch.
“How can I be of assistance?” Will was polite, especially to witches.
“There’s something wrong with my wand. It produces lightning but no thunder. It’s made of willow and I hoped you could spare a branch.”
Will was eager to help. He bowed and shimmied up the willow.
“If I find you a suitable branch, do you promise to bring back the magpie?”
“Certainly,” replied the witch, crossing her fingers behind her back. Will was too busy to notice, looking for the perfect branch – the one the magpie loved to sit on. He snapped it off and threw it to the witch.
“Now,” he said, swinging down, “I would be grateful if you would return the magpie to his family.”
The witch grabbed the branch, ripped off the leaves, and pointed it at Will. “One branch will not suffice. I want your tree.” Another lightning strike and Will turned to stone. The witch propped him against the trunk as if he was asleep.
He’s still there, although everyone believes he’s a sleeping gnome.
Kim M. Russell, 3rd May 2020
A fairy tale for Poets and Storytellers United Writers’ Pantry
I wrote this during last Tuesday’s ‘Shut Up and Write’ on-line session, which is run by the Norfolk Library and Information Service and the American Library in Norwich. We had a choice of three prompts, one of which was write a fairy tale, and the word count challenge was 450 – mine came to 634 words, which I’ve edited down to 358 for the Writers’ Pantry.