Her mother made Willow walk with her,
to the middle of the deep, dark wood.
Willow wept and wailed “Want to go home!”
and also added that she would be good.
Mother muttered “Now dear, save your tears
for the tears will not change what is true.
I can’t afford to keep both you and my poodle
and Mr Wibbly’s worth much more than you.
But look, I made you a nice picnic!
With that crumbly corn bread you like.
Now go on, be off with you now girl.
It is high time that you took a hike”.
Willow’s mother fled far from her then,
left Willow to think on what mummy said.
Those wise words could not dry her tears
and there is little love lingering in bread.
In futility Willow fell to the forest floor,
curled up with her sobbing head on her knees.
Only to hear “Hush now, it is alright, dear”
come comforting her from atop the tall trees.
Willow’s woes were forgotten for a brief moment,
looked up to see where warm words may be found
and saw an old weathered woman in moldy clothes
descending slowly through the air to the ground.
The Wood Witch whispered “My name is Hope
and I will never leave you all alone.
Now come with me, my weeping Willow.
It is late – time that we went home”.
They slowly wandered through the wood hand in hand,
dry leaves a kind crunching carpet under their feet.
After an hour they finally arrived at an ancient hut;
though not made of candy Willow thought it was sweet.
Hope’s teeth were all crooked and also rotten
but her strange smile was so honest and wide.
She flung open her hut’s door enthusiastically
and said “You are home now. Please come inside”.
A matted mangy mound mewed “Most welcome!”
Hope said: “Willow, come meet your cat.
I have named him Cute Curly Cuddles.
And here – come try on your new hat”.
The pointy hat was dark maroon for a moment
till it tired of that and turned blue instead,
then told Willow: “You seem a sensible sort,
so please place me gently on your fine head”.
Hope gave Willow laughter, love and comfort,
cauldron cooked chicken and her own room.
Magic potions, praise and protection,
some splendid spell lessons and a broom.
Time ticked on contentedly for a few happy years
as Hope and Willow’s love for each other grew.
Although old it seemed Hope still sprung eternal
and alive as ever grinned: “It is time we flew!”.
They soared through the skies then together,
each one oh so happy and fond of the other.
Unaware that below them they’d been seen
by one eagle-eyed and menacing mad mother.
Willow’s mother’s name was Patience,
a name which did not suit her well.
“Wicked” would have made more sense
or some other odious name from Hell.
Patience patted her hairy chin thinking:
‘Willow was worthless, sad and tragic.
Yet look at my gruesome girl go now!
My Willow learned magnificent magic!
It is time she was brought back home,
where she can turn all my hay into gold.
It is possible that Willow won’t want to.
Well, tough! She will do as she is told’.
Returning to the village a victim,
Patience put on quite the show!
She wailed: “Oh, my poor heart!
Aching and full of such sorrow!
I have seen the worst wicked witch,
crone captured my Willow in the wood.
She is evil – pure evil, I tell you!
You all know a witch is never good”.
The villagers believed diplomacy was overrated,
the only way to deal with a witch was with fire.
So they each took up their torches and lit them,
to send the kidnapping creepy crone to the pyre.
Late that night Cutey Cuddles was snoring,
curled up comfortably on his royal red rug,
whilst Hope and Willow slept so soundly,
wrapped up in warm blankets, safe and snug.
Willow dreamed she was a pretty princess,
who lived with Queen Hope in a foreign land.
She was disturbed from such sweet slumber
by her mother muffling mouth with her hand.
Patience carried weeping Willow quite roughly,
away from all that Willow’s heart did yearn.
She slyly smiled “I have my dear daughter!
Now it is time for the wicked witch to burn!”
The hut soon caught fire from those torches
that the villagers so misguidedly threw.
Willow looked on and thought ‘Hope is gone.
Plus my broom, cat and spellbook too’.
Back at her home Patience praised Willow:
“Oh, you turned into such a wise witch!
Now make money magic for me, my good girl.
It is time you made your dear mummy rich”.
Willow wept “I would not even if I could,
and I cannot, so that must be that!
For you melted my mystical magic book,
burned broom and you cooked my cat!”
Patience turned furious fast then,
and yelled: “Useless! To your room!
So sick of the sight of you sobbing,
will decide what to do with you soon.”
All alone weeping Willow wailed woefully,
torrents of tears tumbling down her face.
Only to hear her hat hailing her happily:
“Check the cupboard for a preferable place”.
Willow went to the cupboard hesitantly,
she felt almost afraid to hope any more.
Hat said “Yes, you could guess what waits.
Or you could just open the cupboard door”.
Finally looking inside the cupboard,
Willow could barely believe her eyes.
She saw a new land and a tall castle
and her Hope calling out: “Surprise!
Thought it was time to try a new home
and a conjured castle will suffice.
It comes complete with wide windows,
a moat and some tame talking mice.
We will bring other lost children here,
teach them magic and herbalism too.
Please tell me that you will join me,
that you need me as much as I need you”.
The castle soon filled up with children,
conjuring, wands, witches, wizards and laughter.
As for Hope, Cute Curly Cuddles and our Willow?
Well, they all lived happily ever after.
Copyright © 2015 Philip Craddock. All rights reserved.