A short Halloween tale by me.
(Inspired by the song “Weeping Willow Tree” by Chad & Jeremy)
The willow sat in the middle of the cul de sac; amid flowers, bushes and smaller trees. It was like a suburban oasis surrounded by split level homes; a piece of natural beauty in a manufactured middle class world where husbands worried about careers, wives chauffeured their kids around in SUVs and the troubled parts of society were temporarily put at bay. This is the kind of place where everyone knew their neighbors, including all their secrets.
The willow itself was huge and always reminded me of the song “Weeping Willow Tree” by Chad & Jeremy. I loved that song and could easily imagine the tree must have wept a lot of tears over the many years it stood there. This is where I lived, a yellow ranch house at the curve in the road. Several times a day I would drive past the willow, amazed that something so beautiful was left standing when the rest of the neighborhood was razed when the tract homes were built
Today would have been just like every other day, driving past the willow on my way to work but something felt different. There was a weird tingling in the air and it made me glance over. To my surprise there was a small wooden cross with beautiful white lilies planted in front of the tree. I couldn’t for the life of me figure why someone would put a memorial there. In all the time I lived here, which was over 25 years, I didn’t recall anyone dying near the spot. My curiousity was piqued and as soon as I got to work I started googling to solve the mystery, but to no avail.
When I drove home that night I noticed the memorial was gone. This was getting weird so I decided to expand my inquiries. After dinner I stopped over to visit my neighbor Rachel. She was the neighborhood association President and if anyone would be able to find out something it would be her. Rachel hadn’t seen the memorial but would send out an email to the neighbors to see if anyone knew about it. I thanked Rachel and hoped she didn’t think I was hallucinating.
The next day I paid particular attention to the willow and was surprised to see that the memorial was back again. I really wanted to stop and get a closer look but was late for work, but vowed I would stop on the way home. To no avail as again the memorial was gone.
This went on for a few days but I finally got to see the memorial up close. It was very simple, a handmade wooden cross with lilies wired to it. No notes or any clues as to what or who it was for. As I stood there staring a breeze blew some branches around and one of them brushed against my head. It sounded eerily like sighing. Of course, this started up my imagination and for a second I started seeing shadows in the branches. That was over the top for me so I stepped back, focused and snapped myself out of it. I had always loved the quiet reverie sitting beneath the willow gave me, but this was a little too creepy.
Later that evening Rachel got back to me. No one knew about the memorial, in fact no one ever saw it. Was I seeing things? Tomorrow morning I would stake it out, take pictures of it, get proof that I wasn’t losing it.
That Saturday I got up at 5 am. I brought a lawn chair, bottle of water, my phone and a book to the willow. The memorial wasn’t up yet but I was determined to camp out there all day and catch whomever was doing this. So I hid in the bushes and waited, the branches blowing softly in the wind.
Sgt Daniels brushed aside the willow’s branches and stood next to the ME. “Strange way to die. Any tentative findings?”
The ME shrugged, “Pretty sure it was just an accident. Definitely not something that happens every day though. I’ll know more when I do the autopsy.”
They both stared at the woman’s body, sitting in a lawn chair with her head caved in on one side most likely caused by the large branch that fell on top of her.
The ME asked, “Did you find out what she was doing here?”
The Sgt responded “Some of the neighbors heard that she was seeing some sort of memorial here and was trying to track down who kept putting it here. Apparently, no one else saw it, so your guess is as good as mine.”
“Ahh that must be what I saw by the bushes.” He took the Sgt over to a large bush and pushed it aside. “This must be the memorial.” He uncovers the wooden cross, lilies and all.
“Better take that in as evidence, never know. At least she wasn’t hallucinating. As the Sgt picks up the cross he notices small writing on the back of it.
“What’s it say? Can you read it?”
The Sgt studies it for a minute, “RIP Sara, the willow will now weep for you. Strange isn’t Sara the victim’s name”
“Yeah that’s a strange one.”