Under the weeping willow tree

Fairy tales

All the creatures of the forest gathered quietly around the princess as she sat under the tall willow tree. It's thin, stringy branches swayed in the cold winter winds. The princess shivered and wrapped her blanket closer around her. She looked out at the bay. She was waiting.

The rabbits hopped nervously from place to place, wanting to comfort the princess but not knowing how. The geese, namesakes of the place where the princess had gone to wait, sat quietly for once, occasionally giving a single honk up to the sky, almost as if they were calling. The squirrels, unable to sit still, softly ribboned back and forth across the stronger branches above the princess.

The birds were there, too. The male cardinal was easy to spot up high on his branch, stark red against the grey of the sky. The female, grey-pink and muted, could be seen if one took a second look, on the branch beneath him. Chickadees hopped and fluttered, settled down, and hopped and fluttered again, occasionally calling "dee dee dee". And finally the bluejay hopped near the princess and let fall one single, beautiful bluejay feather. The princess picked it up and twirled it in her ice-cold hands.

She turned around to look at them.

"He is coming," she said quietly. The animals just looked at her. They did not know if he would come, but they believed the princess. It was their duty to believe the princess, and to watch and wait with her.

The Eagle who soared above kept his eye on the scene. He expected nothing; yet he, too, felt compelled to wait.

"He is coming," she said again, a little stronger. She needed to believe in the dream. "We will hold each other in the dark, in the cold, and we will become warm. We will once again feel that safety, that homecoming. We will hold hands and walk together through all the forests and cities of the world, and we will play. We will one day have a small little one - or two - running near our feet, and we will show them the forests and the cities and watch their eyes become amazed. We will teach them of magic and of science; we will teach them of reason and of playfulness. And he and I will hold each other's hands through cold winters, through long nights, and play together for eternity."

The princess turned back to the water. "I'm right here," she whispered. "I am your feather and I am right here."

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