Under the Willow

by Quinn W

Jason could not focus on school. He was a solid student with reasonable grade, a reasonable teacher, and the standard share of stress associated with the activities of school. But school wasnt Jasons thing. After all, why focus on school when you can stare out the window towards the willow forest that stretched into the horizon in both directions? It was like a solid wall in the distance, with boughs drooping and linking together in a green curtain. The forest was a fascinating place. After all, his father had gone into it once about four months ago. Jason could clearly remember his father walking towards the wall, and disappearing into it like a ghost passing through concrete.

After school, Jason started home down one of the two major streets in the town. As he approached the place where the forest connected with the town, he started trailing towards the willows, inexplicably attracted to their tangled boughs and comforting shape. However, just before he entered into the forest under the trance of wonder the trees always placed upon him, he snapped back into reality, remembering what had happened the last time he had tried to go in. Just as he had been about to enter, his mother Patricia had stopped him. Those woods are a dangerous place! she had warned him in a shaky voice. People who enter there are sometimes missing for days! I hear its almost impossible to find your way out. Jason wondered why his mother always had to be so preoccupied with the dangers of everyday life, but he felt genuinely concerned for her feelings, so he generally just went along with all of her regulations.

Jason arrived home, just like he always did, just five minutes before his mother. They usually did their separate activities, as Jason did not really associate with Patricia much. However, at around seven o'clock, Jasons father was still missing from home. Jason sat at the dinner table, as was custom in their family. Fifteen minutes later, Jason and his mother sat twiddling their thumbs, waiting politely for father to arrive.

After ten more minutes of waiting, the food was starting to look and smell delicious. However, Patricia couldnt stand the waiting. When is that man ever gonna get home on time! she growled at no one in particular. Jason was a little frustrated as well. Maybe they had an extra job for him at work, and he had to stay overnight. Well next time, Patricia commented, Hed better tell us.

With that, they ate, one person short of a family.

The next day, Jason entered the kitchen. Momentarily taken aback by the cleanliness of the kitchen, he realised that his father didnt use it that morning. Jason walked into the kitchen, surveying the dishes like they were imposters. Father always let a mess.

Jason left for school, half-heartedly talking to his classmates about the most recent events outside of the city. But Jasons mind was astray, and his friends could tell. What's wrong? asked one of his friends worriedly. Nothing, grumbled Jason. His friend looked away, starting to talk to someone else instead of him. They pass the forest, but he wouldnt be caught dead walking towards the forest, so they pass it without incident.

School is once again largely unable to steal his attention, but as soon as school is out Jason quickly strode towards home, looking forward to finding his father and the mess that came with his father. However, when he arrived at home, he found his mother already there, looking out of breath and wo

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