This story is by Meg Bracc0 and was part of our 2022 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
There once was a garden where a giant tree sat with leaves drooped forlornly to the ground. High up in its branches sat a little fairy, the tree’s heart, looking just as sad as the tree itself. Not far away stood another tree, tall and proud with songbirds perched in its branches, filling the air with their song.
A songbird, noticing the fairy’s sadness, flew over and chirped, “Why are you sad, little fairy? The day is beautiful, and the sun is shining, yet the look on your face could summon the rain clouds to come. Come smile and sing with me!” the bird encouraged. “For we live in a place that is so beautiful, people come from all over to see it!”
The little fairy looked up at the bird and cried sadly, “Oh, I wish I could be happy and sing along with you, but I can’t. I don’t have a voice that is as lovely as yours. I have no voice at all, just tears. I may live in a place of beauty, but I also live where beauty is saddest.”
“What do you mean?” the bird chirped. “How can a place be sad?”
The little fairy motioned to the space around her. “My home is a weeping willow. Everyone who comes to the tree weeps beneath its branches. Look as another weeper comes.”
The songbird gazed below and saw a person hidden from view weeping in the shade of the tree.
“Why do they come?” the bird asked.
“I don’t know, but it makes me sad to watch them cry. Especially when your song of happiness bursts forth and reaches up to the clouds.”
“Well, maybe you should ask them, little fairy,” the bird suggested. “For when people walk under the tree, I reside in, the fairy that lives there stands proudly and sings a song of happiness. We birds sing-along reflecting the gladness people feel, and the people leave happier than when they came,” the bird chirped before flying off to join another merry tune.
The little fairy sighed as another weeper left the tree. The next to enter was a young woman whom the fairy thought she had seen before. She watched as the young woman moved silently to the tree’s trunk. The little fairy fluttered down and sat on a small branch beside her.
“Excuse me,” the little fairy asked softly. “Why are you crying?”
The woman gasped and clutched her chest.
“Please don’t be frightened,” the little fairy calmed. “I am Willow, the heart of this tree. What is your name?”
The woman sniffled and wiped her nose. “My name is Marcy,” the woman introduced herself. “You’re a fairy, aren’t you?”
The fairy nodded.
“When I was a girl, I believed fairies lived here. I used to search the gardens in hopes of finding one, but I never did. I thought it was just a story my parents told me so that I would go outside. And now here you are,” Marcy laughed sadly.
“I’m as real as the tree you are leaning on,” the little fairy acknowledged. “Fairies, as you may have found, are very picky on who we let see us. Now tell me, Marcy, why are you here?”
“I didn’t know where else to go,” she confessed. “Then I remembered this place. When I was a girl, my mother brought me here. We used to wander the garden together. She passed away earlier this year. Since then I haven’t found my way back from the grief. My mother told me that being outside was a way to sort things out. She also told me that different plants and trees could make you feel certain things. I’ve felt nothing for a long time and wanted to feel something. I wanted to cry and let go, but there wasn’t a place I felt I could do that. As I wandered through the garden, I noticed this weeping willow whose tears were on display for all who passed by. I was intrigued by the long branches that swept the ground. They reminded me of how I feel inside. I’m dragging. As I passed through the curtain of leaves, I felt an overwhelming sense that this was a place I could let it all go. And here I am, letting go,” Marcy said, choking back a tear.
“I’m sorry,” the little fairy comforted. “No one should have to cry alone.”
The little fairy flew to the woman and hugged her as she let out her tears. They stayed there for what seemed like hours when another sob broke out on the other side of the tree. The little fairy let go of the woman, drawn by the cries of another weeper.
“Will you be alright, Marcy?” the little fairy asked.
“Yes,” she smiled hopefully. “I’ve been holding in my grief for so long. Now I finally feel like I was able to let go. Thank you, Willow, for being here with me. Now comes the moving on.”
Marcy rose from her spot underneath the tree and left the covering of the willows, no longer weeping. Quickly the little fairy flew to the weeper whose cry she’d just heard. An older man sat on a bench hidden within the draping branches, his hands covering his face.
“Why are you crying?” the fairy asked as she sat beside him, offering what solace she could.
“My goodness,” the man said, startled. “I thought I was alone.”
“You’re never alone here. I am Willow, the heart of the tree, and you are?”
“Caleb,” he said softly.
“Caleb,” the fairy mouthed. “Such a nice name. Now tell me, Caleb, why are you here?”
“I came here to be alone,” he replied as he cleared his throat.
“Alone?” the fairy wondered. “Why come to a lonely place to be alone?”
“Because being lonely in a lonely place makes me feel like I’m not alone,” he admitted.
“That doesn’t make any sense,” the little fairy pointed out.
“It does to the person alone,” he replied. “I am old and my wife is gone. While she lived, she loved to walk through the garden and share her love of botany with me. Now that she is gone, what do I have left? Just this place and our memories. That’s why I came. This place understands me and makes me feel like I belong somewhere. Sitting underneath the willow tree I remember all the times we spent together. If you had met my wife, you would have understood how much she meant to me. We belonged with one another. Now, I am alone just like this tree is, but while I’m here I don’t feel lonely.”
“Do you have any other family?” the little fairy asked him.
“No,” he said as he shook his head sadly.
Gently, the little fairy reached out and held his hand. They sat there quietly as tears streamed down his face.
“You must miss her terribly. I’m sorry that she is gone and you are lonely. No one should be alone,” the fairy whispered.
“Thank you, Willow,” Caleb said as he rose to leave. “Thank you for understanding.”
As weepers came to the willow tree, the little fairy flew to them, drawn by their cries.
“I am Willow,” she said to them softly. “The tree’s heart. Why are you crying?”
One by one, they told her their stories. The little fairy listened in silence and offered what comfort she could. She had begun to notice; the more the weepers spoke, the happier they became as they left their cares at the willow tree.
“This tree may live in the most dismal part of a beautiful garden,” the little fairy thought, “but this isn’t just a sad willow. My home is a place of safety for the weepers. It reflects what they feel inside, just like the songbird’s tree. The tree’s roots are strong and I am strong enough to handle whatever struggles the weepers bring. This garden may be beautiful, but not all beautiful places can handle sadness. But I can, a weeping willow made by tears.”
The little fairy smiled. She found her voice and began to sing, inviting the weepers to cry in a place of safety. Each day she grew happier, for here at her willow tree the weepers found a place of peace, solace, and solitude; a place to let go and feel the beginnings of hope.