Our short story of the week is a folk tale by David Calcutt.
David Calcutt lives in the West Midlands and is a playwright, poet, and author of several books for young people. He is currently working on a new performance piece in collaboration with fellow writer Sarah Sayeed and director David Allen.
The Willow Tree follows a man who returns to his childhood home at the edge of a mysterious forest.
There’s a tree grows in a wood, an old willow tree. And of an evening when the world is quiet and still, if you are really listening, you will hear the tree speaking. And it tells this story.
There was once a young woman who came walking through the wood. It was late on a midwinter’s afternoon. The ground was hard, the air was bitter, and the branches of the trees were covered in frost. And this young woman wore only a ragged dress, with a thin shawl wrapped around her shoulders, and her face and arms were thin and her feet were bloody and bare. But her belly was big, and she was near the end of her time. Poor thing, she walked on through the wood as the day darkened and the cold sharpened; she walked and she walked until she couldn’t walk anymore and, weak and exhausted, fell to the ground. And it was there, in the heart of the winter woods, with her back pressed against the broad trunk of a willow tree, that this young woman brought new life into the world. Two children, a girl and a boy. As she felt her own life slipping away from her, she wrapped them in her shawl and held them close to her breast to keep them warm. But how would they stay warm once her own life was gone? Read more…