They found her on a cool summer night, reposed beneath the lonely willow tree. Her body faced the river--the full moon looked like spilled milk in those waters--clutching a tiny book upon her breast. Threads of shimmering silver wove between her slender fingers, imbuing that book with an ethereal glow until it attained the allure of a sacred scripture. What secrets lay between those pages? They could not help but wonder with awe. Unable to withhold their curiosity, they pried the book from her cold fingers. She relinquished it as easily as a fleeting dream.
On the back of the cover they recognized two names--one of a boy and one of a girl. Scrawled in cursive, the long sweeping lines entwined with one another. They turned the page and poetry tumbled out; landscapes, horizons, a crumpled green rug, all painted in the boy's wire-thin script. The time he adopted a stray cat, the time he rode a bullet train, the time he broke his leg--all the moments of his life stretched out before their eyes, strung together by his words.
The pages turned and they stood in rapture as the words arose and took shape. They witnessed the dirt roads of his homeland, churned to mud by the passing of a thousand feet. They stood with him on the mast of a great ship. The briny scent of the ocean pervaded their nostrils as the waves played elegies against the hull; the callused fingers of his mother laced with theirs' as they wistfully watched his homeland fade into the horizon. Then they stood with him before a mirror, hatefully glaring at the skinny boy who peered out from the glass. The creaking joints of the decrepit house, the clattering shingles that clung vainly to the roof, how clearly they heard it all.
They, immersed in the boy's life, were oblivious to the willow tree softly weeping over them. How powerless it was-rooted to its spot-to pull them out. How powerless it was to change anything at all. It could not halt the passage of the vagrant seasons nor could it bend the winds or bring forth the rains. It could not save the boy who had spent many a night beneath its trembling boughs. It could only weep-rooted to its spot-mourning over all that it lost and all it never had.
The turning of the pages did not cease, though they stood sequined in the willow tree's tears. The boy met the girl and they laughed in delight. Abashed confessions spilled from their lips in his whispered voice and they stole furtive glances of her from behind trees and corners. They turned the pages and the budding romance blossomed before their eyes. Oh rapture! Oh joy! Her florid script now threaded through the pages entwined with his! They sighed. How beautiful--the boy and girl had fallen in love.
Many a night the boy and girl sat together beneath the lonely willow tree. They spoke of anything and everything: the beginning and end of mankind, milk chocolate or dark, the death of poetry, the mundane and transmundane alike. And together the boy and girl would write of these things in the tiny book. They who read the book now felt the lingering touches and fleeting kisses shared beneath the willow tree.
What was the girl's story, they wondered, before she met the boy? Was she the only daughter of a wealthy family? Was she the middle daughter of six children? Did she once live in a mansion or a farmhouse? They supposed it no longer mattered for her words were entwined with the boy's.
The boy and girl fell deeper in love with each passing word. They turned the pages faster, eager to discover their fate. And the willow tree wept. Leaves rustling in the wind, it hissed and sighed, a hollow voice imploring them, "stop!". But the pages merely turned faster. Their eyes grew wide with delight. Surely the boy and girl would marry! Their breathing hastened in anticipation.
A shadow crossed their eyes. "No," they whispered.
And the willow tree implored them, "stop."
But the pages kept on turning. Horror crossed their features as the boy began to lose himself to his ruminations. They implored him "stop!" just as the girl had surely done but he merely sank deeper and deeper into thought. Question after question slithered off the page like venomous serpents, whispering slyly in their ears, as they must have whispered into his. They could not save him; they could not reach him. They could only weep.
The pages turned and the boy lost himself further and further to thought. At last he reached the inevitable epiphany: this world would never be his! What could he do upon this revelation but take his own life? He could do nothing and thus, like his favourite author, he walked into the river with stones in his pockets. And with the girl they stood beneath the willow tree, powerless to save him.
They closed the book then, hanging their heads in shame. They had trespassed into a world they did not belong. And on a cool summer night they left the girl reposed beneath the willow tree, facing the river where the moon looked like spilled milk, with a book of poetry atop her breast. And the willow tree wept.