Willow of endless waters.., p.1
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       Willow of Endless Waters the Journey Begins, p.1
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           DB Jones
Willow of Endless Waters the Journey Begins


  WILLOW OF ENDLESS WATERS

  The Journey Begins

  By

  D. B. Jones

  Copyright 2013 DB Jones

  Ebook formatting by www.ebooklaunch.com

  Table of Contents

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  In loving memory of my mother, Bette Beiger Lang, and my brother, Theodore T. Beiger Jr.

  Their inspiration encouraged me to write this book.

  1

  Willow stood on the edge of the knoll above the cliff, gazing down at the rocky shore of the endless waters. She closed her eyes to feel the warm, gentle breeze on her face as she listened to the water rushing over the rocks below and onto the sandy beach. At times she could hear the waves calling out to her, or at least that's what she thought. There was something about the endless waters that resonated throughout her entire being, drawing her near like a moth to a flame.

  It was acceptable in her small village for the women to take the children to the water's edge as the men fished. But when the sun dropped out of the sky, the shadows began to disappear on the landscape, and the night bird called out, everyone retreated from the water's edge. For Willow, that time was hers and hers alone.

  The daily chores were done, and one by one, she and her sisters, Raven and twins Nara and Ciara, and their brother, Seth, climbed into their sleeping lofts as her mother, Audra, and her father, Nyle, kissed each of them good-night. When her mother and father finished preparing everything for the following day, they too retired to their loft.

  Willow lay very still, waiting to hear the sleeping sounds of her mother and father. When she felt it was safe, she quietly crawled out of her loft and tiptoed out the kitchen door past the still-burning embers in the kitchen hearth that had cooked the evening meal. Then she hurried down to the water's edge.

  Her heart was pounding with anticipation as the moon rose high in the night sky. She sat, watching the fireflies dancing along the shore, daring those hiding just beneath the water to make themselves known. Sometimes when she was very still, she would imagine seeing the people that lived in the world beneath the water. She had heard stories about them from the old ones in the village, but no one really believed such a world existed, because no one she knew had ever seen such things.

  Willow made her nighttime visits to the shore as often as she could. One night, her face was so close to the water, it felt as though she were looking through glass. Her stillness was like a trance as her gaze became fixed on the glow of the moonlight on the water. For a moment, her eyes began to focus on something that seemed to be moving closer and closer to her, yet she did not pull away. There was calm in it all. It was a vision of a beautiful woman with long, shimmering, silver hair that gently swirled through the water. The woman came closer and closer to Willow, and then her hair reached out of the water and brushed against Willow's face. Then, in an instant, the woman was gone. Willow thought for a moment that she had dozed off and that it was only a dream.

  The next day was like most days. She played with her sisters, helped Audra with her chores, and then joined the family for the evening meal. Nyle had been talking to her without any response, and he finally tapped the table with his knife to get her attention. After all, dinner was family time, when family decisions were made. But Willow's thoughts were rewinding the previous night's events over and over. She could not think of anything else and found it difficult to participate in the family conversation. Was the vision of the woman in the endless waters only her imagination, or had she been privileged with a glimpse of what or who lies beneath?

  Everyone went to bed, or so she thought. She crept out of her curtained-off sleeping loft and tiptoed across the room, past her sisters' lofts and into the kitchen, where the embers from cooking the evening meal lingered on the hearth. The aroma of the beef stew infused the room. Just as she neared the back door, her father stood up from his handwoven willow chair in front of the fireplace. She had not noticed him there, because the back of the chair was tall and faced outward.

  Nyle asked, "What are you doing up this late, Daughter, and why are you still dressed?"

  She knew he had noticed her odd behavior at dinner. "I'm just going outside for some fresh air," she said. Nyle was a compassionate man and knew she would feel strained talking to him about what he assumed was the onset of womanhood, so he suggested she talk with her mother in the morning and sent her back to bed.

  Willow desperately wanted to return to the water that night, but she knew her father would be up longer than usual. She tossed and turned and found it difficult to sleep. The vision of the woman in the water captured her every thought. The vision of her swaying and swirling silver hair in the water's current calmed her, and she finally drifted off to sleep.

  There was something different about Willow in the morning. She could feel it. Her family noticed it too, but couldn't quiet determine what it was. However, that was soon forgotten, because there was to be a festival in the center of the village soon, on the full moon. Everyone in the household was talking about it and making plans. Audra wanted to make sure she cooked something very special that would stand out at the festival. Also, she would design and sew a beautiful dress for Willow that all eyes would turn to admire as Willow entered the center of the village on that joyous day.

  All the families in the village would bring their best dishes to share with all the other villagers. It was an event young people looked forward to as they grew up. Their mothers and fathers had all experienced it. It was a time when the young boys and girls coming of age gathered on the knoll during the evening of the festival at the full of the moon. There the girls would choose their future mate from the eligible boys.

  Girls giggled together and discussed what they would wear and whom they hoped to see there. Boys strutted around as if to say, "I'm the strongest and most handsome of all here. I can build the biggest fishing boat, and I'll have the best house in the village." Those were the things parents told their young daughters to look for in a mate.

  Willow seemed distant from it all. She wasn't interested in anyone in the village. She had grown up with her friends and liked them but had no desire to pick out a mate and spend the rest of her days with him in their small village. She dreamed of a mate beyond any of those in the village, someone in her dreams or imagination. She was certain when the right one came along, she would know him without question, and he would know her.

  She was not a shy girl but preferred to spend much of her time alone with nature. Although many in the village thought her sweet enough, they looked upon her with curiosity. Most of the villagers had ebony hair and sun-baked complexions, the latter often thought to be the result of living and working near the shore of the endless waters. Willow, on the other hand, had long, golden hair that glimmered in the sunlight, and her skin was fair, with just a blush of color in her cheeks. The villagers, accustomed to the dark looks of most of her family, were perplexed by Willow's rare beauty. It led some to whisper about how she stood out among all the other children, but she did come fro
m a family with high status, and her father did have the largest and most successful fishing boat in the village. So she was accepted without question.

  Willow finished her daily responsibilities early, and her mother asked her to help in the kitchen with the dish she was making for the festival. It was an old family recipe handed down and first served when she was getting ready for her first festival. There were special herbs to gather from the garden and the forest; they had to be fresh, not dried.

  Nyle returned from fishing early with a great fish, fit for a king. It would go in the dish, so he handed it to Audra. Wild grape leaves were gathered and soaked in wine the family had made the year before, after the harvest of wild berries. Audra cleaned the fish and coated it with a crust of sea salt and herbs. Only its head remained clear of crust. Willow's mother asked her to take the fish to the smokehouse, place it on the top shelf, and cover it with muslin cloth. There it would remain until the morning of the festival, when Willow and Audra would get up before the sun
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