We Are the Odd and the Weary

Submitted into Contest #102 in response to: Write about a mysterious figure in one’s neighborhood.... view prompt

8 comments

Coming of Age Mystery

"She's the strangest child in town," the adults said. "I heard she talks to herself," the children said. "We don't know what to do with her," the teachers said.


Willow O'Connor was, undeniably, odd. People said that she wouldn't respond to her name, and mumbled things others wouldn't understand. Rumors were passed around about her like food at a table, the others consuming these words but never questioning how the food was made or at what cost.


Willow was never given a seat at this table, but she wouldn't have taken it, anyway. That food was poison.


She was, undeniably, odd - but she was also misunderstood.


Each morning, I would pause at her house on my way to school, staring at it. Her parents were normal enough, and I saw them often around the town. They seemed so worried about Willow, and were always researching about doctors and things to take her too. Sadly, they told people, she denied there was anything wrong with her.


Willow, too, was often around town, but was either stared at or ignored. There was no medium, it seemed. No one truly knew much about her, although they pretended to, and the only facts that were definite were these: She was eleven years old, had long dark hair and light eyes, and lived in and went to school in this town.


Our town itself was small, and near the edge of the state. It was full of gossips and grumps, and maybe there was no medium for this, either. Our buildings: small, well-kept homes or tall houses, the structures near the town square built from sturdy brick and seemingly old even though they were built relatively recently.


All the people here, or a lot of them at least, possessed an air of judgement. Perhaps the reason for this was because of rivalries between townspeople, or perhaps this was just woven in our nature. I couldn't say.


I set out to the school on Wednesday early in the morning, like I always did in the colder seasons. The sky was just beginning to light up, the sun shining through gaps in the cloud cover like little slices of heaven. I walked slowly, but kept my head up. My worn sneakers thumped on the cement as I walked, but I paid no attention to that except to make a mental note that I needed new shoes.


When I reached the school's grounds, the sun had fully risen and dew speckled the grass of the field. I walked through the propped-open double doors into the school, where some other students were already - they probably lived closer or drove.


I stepped out of the hallway and into the bathroom. The floor tiles were dirty from kids tracking mud in, and I wondered if they would ever be cleaned. It seemed that they had been like that forever - a quality many things in this town possessed.


I noticed that Willow was there, at one of the sinks. She looked weary, and probably was. There was only one other student in there, a quiet girl named Lina who looked up at me when I entered. "Hi," I said. Lina nodded at me, a weak smile tugging at her mouth.


Then a group of girls entered the bathroom. There were three of them. These were the judging girls, the ones who sat at the high and mighty table and wallowed in the rumors. 


They were the ones who had the poison inside of them.


They started asking questions of Willow, who didn't answer and cowered away, staring down at her feet. The questions themselves were simple, words that you wouldn't think twice of normally. But here, there was an underlying sense of mocking, woven in their manners and "smiles."


Suddenly, Lina took a step forward. "Stop it," she said. Her voice was small, although abnormally strong. "Willow hasn't done anything to you."


The poison spreaders merely laughed.


My parents told me to do what Lina did, to stand up, and I wished I could, but I had always been too afraid. We were all afraid in this town. Afraid of who we really were, that we might be crazy too. How strange it is that no one ever realized. 


"The O'Connor's don't know what they're doing," the parents said. "Willow's crazy," the children said. "Crazy, maybe, but what is crazy?" the teachers said.


I realized soon after, lying in my bed at home, that there was a growing feeling inside of me, a feeling of pity that was rather unfamiliar. It nagged and nagged at me, like a subtle buzzing in your ears that grows increasingly louder and louder - at some point, you have to recognize why it's there.


I decided that I should speak to Willow. 


And so I met Willow O'Connor in the living room of my house, and we talked. She was easy to talk to. She was, undeniably, odd, but easy to talk to. Willow O'Connor was tired of sitting on the floor. She wanted a seat at a table, and a meal, a good meal, one that filled you with life.


Poison, it seemed, was in abundance in this town. Life, I wondered about.


The next day passed the same. A sense of monotony was apparent to me, although I presumed not to any others. Perhaps Lina. She had rebelled against the poison spreaders. Did that mean that she had life in her heart? Maybe, I thought. I hoped.


I was weary.


Walking home that evening, I realized that because I had left school late after working longer on a project, Willow would be waiting for me at my house. When I reached home, I went into my living room, unbuttoning my coat and hanging it up on the wooden coat rack. The room was empty but for myself. My parents had gone out and said that I could stay home alone, which hardly ever happened.


I stopped in front of the mirror that was leaned up against the wall, stared into it at my reflection, and smiled slightly.


"Hello, Willow. It's nice to see you again."

July 13, 2021 17:34

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

8 comments

Jon R. Miller
12:45 Jul 17, 2021

I loved the ending! My mind was vaguely sensing something kinda like that when I got to the scene in the bathroom. . . but I didn't really call it, until the end. Neatly written. The effective use of parenthetical commas give the prose a distinct cadence, which really works for me. Well done!

Reply

Zz Entwistle
16:01 Jul 17, 2021

Thank you! It was kind of hard to write it so that there were hints before the ending and yet it wasn't given away, but still fun :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Charli Britton
21:34 Jul 14, 2021

in the first sentence, you say "oddest", would that be most odd? Or maybe just find another word for odd. Loved that story though!!!

Reply

Zz Entwistle
22:48 Jul 14, 2021

Thank you!! I looked it up and it is "oddest" but I think I'll change it anyway because I use the word a lot in the story

Reply

Charli Britton
22:51 Jul 15, 2021

okay awesome. :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Maha Shalaby
18:47 Jul 19, 2021

I really enjoyed the way you ended the story

Reply

Zz Entwistle
19:14 Jul 19, 2021

Thanks, I was debating how to end it, so I appreciate it!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Maha Shalaby
18:47 Jul 19, 2021

I really enjoyed the way you ended the story

Reply

Show 0 replies