Hello Mr Magpie!

“Why ask the willow for a branch when my husband can saw one off for you?” asked the shopkeeper.

“That’s not how it works,” replied Willa. She paid for her shopping, grabbed her basket, and left.

Soon two magpies appeared in Willa’s garden, carved from driftwood she collected from a local beach and painted by hand. They were so life-like, the villagers were astonished when they did not fly away.

Walpurgis Night arrived. While the village prepared for May Day on the green, Willa was busy under the willow. She sat cross-legged, humming while she stirred a copper pot, which steamed and bubbled on a tripod. There was no sign of a flame. In her lap were notes from neighbours offering to cut a branch from the willow. She had declined all offers politely, determined to prevent any attempts to harm the tree. One by one, she held the pieces of paper over the pot and they burst into flames.

On Walpurgis Night, when the village was asleep, Willa lingered under the willow. A strong wind had built up during the day, bending the sturdiest oaks and birches. But the willow was supple and did not resist the power of the wind. Willa’s voice rose in harmony with it, charming it into plucking a branch from the top of the tree. By morning, she had carved the willow’s gift into an ornate wand.

The green was at the opposite end of the village and everyone attended the May Day festivities – except Willa. Wand in hand, she walked backwards around the willow seven times, chanting:

“One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy, five for silver, six for gold, and seven for a secret never to be told.”

The branches rustled above her head and two magpies landed in the willow.

“Hello Mr Magpie,” said Willa, “and how is your wife?”

One of the magpies flew down, landed on the stone goblin, and pecked his head. A crack zig-zagged from the top of his hat to his toe. Willa bent down and gently pulled the stone apart. A hand reached out and grasped her arm. It was Will.

“Hello brother,” said Willa, and smiled. (369 words)

Kim M. Russell, 17th May 2020

Black Billed Magpie Stock Pictures, Royalty-free Photos & Images ...

My contribution to Poets and Storytellers United Writers’ Pantry

This is the final part of the story I’ve been drafting at Shut Up and Write for the past three Tuesdays. As soon as my novel, Joe and Nelly has been published in paperback, it’s back to the work in progress, this time a Young Adult novel, a ghost story set in Norfolk.

37 thoughts on “Hello Mr Magpie!

  1. The first sentence had me squealing with delight. Because, as you might remember, I so wanted to know what Willa was going to do with that branch. I love the wild magic fueling her gathering methods. I love the results. I love this story all around. And yes, I am looking forward to reading Willa’s world!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure when I’ll write another episode as I plan to finish my novel in progress once the paperback of Joe and Nelly is live on Amazon, which should be tomorrow or Tuesday. I need to do some promotion, which I’m rubbish at, so that will keep me occupied for a while. I’m so pleased you’ve enjoyed the willow tree tale.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Willa is a good protectorate of the Willow tree. I wish she’d have been under ours. Pranksters didn’t stop at a branch but cut the whole tree down. We left the stump in and it regrow itself back into a lovely willow tree.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ours is flourishing too after being cut back last year by the electricity company because it grew higher than the overhead power cables. They grow very quickly, especially in damp soil.


  3. You never disappoint, Kim! 😍😍 This is a fantastic final part to the series. I love “But the willow was supple and did not resist the power of the wind. Willa’s voice rose in harmony with it,” and the appearance of her brother at the end. 💝👏👏

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have wondered what it would be like to write this way, in short bursts that unite to make a whole book– It seems like it would be fun—I love Willa already–she is a special character I think–

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The cracking of the stobe goblin was for me very surprising
    Thanks for dropping by my sumie Sunday Kim



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