image

All eyes turned to me expectant and doubtful in the firelight.  I had been unable to stop myself, but after being regaled for over an hour with the old standbys, including the man with the hook, who has my golden arm, etc, who could blame me.  I more than any of my, slightly drunken, peers knew the meaning of story telling especially in a group and circled round a fire.  So, I stopped the noisy prattle with a sentence, “I bet I know one you’ve never heard before,” and I did, lots of them.  However, as my grandmother was always want to remind me, “Each gathering has a story waiting to be told, Dianna, you cannot just pick one at random.  If your gifted enough, listen closely enough, the story picks you.”

In the collectively held breath of my captive audience I heard a flutter of wings and the sharp cackle of a crow as a small shadow darker than night rested in a nearby tree.

“So be it.

Many years ago when the woods still teemed with the unknown, and most decent folk feared the dark. A terrible disease ravaged the countryside. The superstitious blamed a small family, the Brenns, who had moved into town as the epidemic claimed its first life. For as time went on the small family survived while the rest of the town burned funeral pyers.

On the same day the Brenns announced the betrothal of their only daughter, Merla, the last child succumbed to disease in the town. Spurred on by fear and resentment the town people rose up and attacked all the merry makers at the family’s celebration. However, Merla was saved by hiding in the branches of the rowan tree in the woods off their property. In one day she had lost everything to the epidemic, her family and her beloved.

For fear of her life the girl hid in the branches till night fall, and then buried her family at the base of her tree. For 100 days and nights the Merla wept upon those graves, and all the while the towns people searched for the girl believing that once the family line was broken the curse of the disease would be lifted. However, while the girl was never sighted among the shadows in the branches all were haunted nightly by her keening.

As the sun set on the 100th day Merla opened her eyes to the sound of laughter. Weary of a trick she climbed lower to get a better look, and saw much to her surprise her family sitting as if for a picnic among a garden of bleeding heart and white chrysanthemum flowers. She quickly joined them, and the family spent the night laughing with no pain of loss to separate them. They were so engrossed in their reunion that the Brenns did not hear the towns folk creeping ever closer. The people were drawn forward to the point where the unearthly sounds of mourning had been replaced with joy, but fear held them from entering the woods till dawn was nearly upon them.

In time with the starting day both the people of the town and the sunlight pierced the shadows below the rowan tree simultaneously. In the light the Brenns family withered away like dew drying upon a meadow. Merla stood with tears streaming and decided she would never run again. With a single heart wrenching sob she threw her arms wide and dissolved into a mass of black wings. In the light of the new day the girl no longer hid among the branches rather 100 crows littered the tree and filled it with their cawing lament.

Something more than disease had taken hold of the town as the crows kept them from rest all day and the family picnic kept them from sleep all night, and so the town folk faded away.

None now live near The Blackbird Woods for it and its inhabitants remember when not so long ago decent folk turned dark.”

Dianna paused taking in the open mouths and confused glances. Her tale had not been scary in the most conventional sense of the word, but she supposed that at least a few of them were recalling, through their drunken fog, that Dianna Brenn was one of the people their mothers had warned them against.

~Reader Note~

Yeah, I have made it to 100 followers thank you for reading and commenting! I hope that I have given you something that at the very least was entertaining, and I hope you liked it enough to continue with me on this literary journey.

Happy reading
~Jess

Advertisements