“What a windy day! I can barely keep my skirts in place and just look at the state of my hair! I declare, Marjorie, it’s downright blust-“
Had she been able to, Delores would have let out a startled cry of surprise as her companion and friend hurtled towards her, a look of terror on Marjorie’s face as she clamped Delores’ mouth shut with her gloved hand just as Delores was finishing her sentence. Fighting Marjorie off with her closed parasol as if her friend were one of her husband’s ill-mannered hounds, Delores finally was able to free herself of her friend’s grip and with no small amount of exasperation, began smoothing down her gown and went about straightening her hat before turning her full attention on her suddenly half-crazed friend.
“What in the world could have possessed you, Marjorie? You acted like a raving madwoman just now! In all my years as your friend, I am sure I have never witnessed such odd behavior. What have you to say for yourself?” Delores whipped open her ivory fan and began beating at the air in agitated strokes- a needless action thanks to the gusty day.
Pulling herself up to her full height, Marjorie returned her friend’s stare with equal intensity. “I do apologize, dear, but you see it was quite necessary. Who knows what would have happened had I allowed you to complete that sentence. Don’t you know about the legend?” Marjorie whispered the last word and quickly looked around as if worried she’d been overheard.
“Honestly Marjorie, I haven’t the faintest idea as to what you could be referring to,” Delores retorted, still put out and feigning disinterest. Marjorie, having been friends with Delores since they were small girls knew Delores was practically obsessed with fairytales, ghost stories and legends and only had to wait a few seconds before Delores’ curiosity won out over her stubbornness. “Now what legend could you possibly be going on about that would cause such a violent reaction,” Delores continued, her haughty tone tinged with budding interest.
Seeing a park bench a few feet away, Marjorie led her friend to the bench and upon sitting, leaned in close, “It’s a legend I only just heard myself regarding the very gardens we are sitting in now. Not too far from this very spot is a dense growth of poplar trees, perhaps you’ve noticed it on your afternoon strolls as it is quite overgrown and a bit out of place among the finely manicured lawns and paths. They say those trees are the offspring of trees planted by the Romans when they populated this land and they possess a magical power only a few people have lived to tell about. On windy days, such as this, women on their afternoon strolls have been known to go missing at that very spot. Five or so have simply disappeared in the last thirty years and witness accounts of the events leading up to these disappearances are so strange as to have been completely discounted by the authorities. But, if you believe the legend, the women were sucked into the woods by the trees themselves and with such force and such stealth that all that remained of these poor souls are their parasols. Even now, if we were to risk walking up to the trees we would see the tattered remnants and skeletal remains of at least five women’s parasols swinging like strange birds from the poplar branches,” Marjorie swallowed dramatically and shivered as if the sunny summer day had suddenly grown overcast and chilly.
“Trees with magical power? Abandoned parasols in the branches? That’s ridiculous…” Delores replied but her tone and body language all but screamed she believed every word Marjorie had said.
Taking the bait, Marjorie continued, “If you don’t believe me, let’s take a look for ourselves”.
Not one to back down from anything, even when it was wise to do so, Delores set her chin and standing up all but marched towards the spot Marjorie had referred to, but not at a pace that would allow her to arrive much ahead of her friend. Following the path around a sharp corner she hadn’t remembered, Delores suddenly found herself standing in front of what appeared to be a forest in the middle of the park. Sure enough, she could see several faded and shredded parasols peeking out from some of the higher branches.
Coming up behind her, Marjorie whispered, “All of the women who went missing had been commenting on the weather before they were snatched into the trees. When their companions were asked about their last words, one word had been uttered by each lady. That word was…” At this point, Marjorie took a small pencil and notepad from her handbag and writing something quickly, handed the pad to Delores.
“Blustery?” Delores read aloud without thinking.
Before Marjorie could give her friend a hard time for tempting fate, a large poplar tree began to bend exceedingly low to the ground where Delores was standing and with a movement so quick as to confuse even the closest of witnesses, seemed to snatch Delores off the ground and pitch her into the darkness of the trees. Unable to help her friend or even scream in reaction, Marjorie stood in shock and starred into the branches- where Delores’ new peach-colored parasol twirled gracefully in the wind.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: Man, was it windy today! I guess there’s some sort of cold front on it’s way (meaning the highs will dip into the high 60s for a day before returning to the mid-80s where they’ve been hanging out all winter). Honestly, outside of the few hurricanes I’ve had the displeasure of living through, this day was super… blustery.
TWO: Ever see something and wonder how it happened or if it was ‘created’ or just ‘happened’? Today, while waiting in the parking lot of the Enzian theater, a local one-screen theater that features a FilmSlam every month of local/independent filmmakers, I stared off into the distance, as I’m known to do, and found myself looking at quite the whimsical scene. There, in the wooded area behind the theater, caught in the branches and potato vines were several old umbrellas. The more I looked, the more I saw and I began to wonder if this was some kind of statement, or tradition or artistic thingamabob or if a bunch of people just suddenly ‘freed’ their umbrellas into the woods. Anyway, it was too cool not to write about.
Love & Squirrels.