Will’s eyes followed the shadow while his fingers untwisted the last ribbon. He took off after it, swiftly but stealthily, slipping behind tree trunks and bushes, not once looking behind him to check if everything was as it should be. The shadow was moving away from the green, towards the other end of the village, where the willow tree stood opposite Willa’s cottage. It was moving at a fair rate, but Will managed to close the distance between them.
‘It’s a cat!’ he exclaimed to himself. But it was no ordinary moggie. It was transparent. Will spotted blades of grass, twigs and stones through it, even the houses as it passed by. No wonder it got past Willa’s protection spell.
Will clicked his fingers and found himself back in the cottage, where Willa was sprinkling ingredients into the cauldron.
‘Everything back to normal?’ she asked.
‘I’m not sure. I had to help the spell along by untangling the maypole ribbons but, just as I unknotted the last little bit, I noticed a ghost cat, and it’s heading this way!’
‘A ghost cat? Do you think it knows you saw it?’
‘I don’t think so,’ replied Will. ‘I followed it for a while, just to make sure, and then decided to check that you were safe.’
At that moment, a harsh cry sounded from the direction of the willow.
‘My friend is back!’ cried Will and he ran out of the back door, Willa on his heels, and across the silent road to the willow tree. Struggling in the overhanging branches was the magpie, with the ghost cat wriggling and squirming, its tail gripped firmly in his beak.
‘Who’s that you’ve nabbed there?’ asked Willa.
‘Our old friend the weather witch,’ the magpie mumbled through ghost tail and beak. ‘She’s back to cause more trouble.’
‘Not if I can help it!’ Willa raised her wand, hummed a jumble of words, and the ghost cat turned into a worm, which the magpie devoured in a quick swallow.
‘And Will,’ said the magpie with a gleam in its eye, ‘you’ve got tall.’
He had. When he clicked his fingers again, just to make sure, the Maypole celebrations had resumed with a swing.
Kim M. Russell, 26th July 2020
The final episode of The Willow Tree Goblin for Poets and Storytellers United Writers’ Pantry.