She sat, silent and aglow with a serenity that burned within her slightly slender frame. Always at an angle with a leg tucked under or crossed over, she was the picture on the wall that never hung straight and seemed more odd when it did. In motion she was swan on the lake despite a crane-like exterior, and though she couldn’t crash traffic at will, she caused whiplash when the moon was fat and aligned properly with certain stars.
They named her Isolde because they loved the way the sound of it blew from the mouth like a warm wind and wrapped her up in a succulence that whispered like a mother to a fractious babe in the middle of the night.
Shhhhh. Hush there and close your great green eyes. Snuggle down into waiting dreams and wake with sly smiles of remembrance.
Isolde perched as high up in the old tree on the side yard as its strength would allow her that day. Nestled but feline and with furrowed expression that frightened even the magpies away and a hiss caught in her throat and leaked through clenched teeth like a kettle on the boil.
The world below was late August, parched and burnt prematurely brown. Isolde’s bare feet bore fossil like impression of a dry dusty lawn in need of sweeping. Looking up, that was all one could see of her, dirty soles and another pipe cleaner leg to know she was there, but not enough to be sure she was real and not an illusion left behind by a wood sprite to fool foolish mortal eyes.
“Girl, you come down,” Lacie Mae called over her shoulder as she straightened up from the frayed wicker laundry basket with a gnarled handful of white panties too big to belong to her or Isolde.
She didn’t bother to turn around to see if there had been any compliance. The leaves rustling with bird and breeze told her that Isolde was not ready to relinquish her grudging perch. Lacie Mae chuckled and drove slotted wooden pegs over cotton and coated wire before diving like a duck for more undergarments.
“I’m never coming down!”
“Never is a long time,” Lacie replied in a tone as mild as mother’s milk. “Best think on it before you commit.”
Isolde arched out on the thick branch like a cat. Lacie Mae appeared and vanished as the leafy arms of the tree swayed with increased wind and under her weight.
“Isolde still pouting up the old elm?” She heard a male voice and her upper lip curdled as she straddled the limb, bark digging into her smooth bare inner thighs. She couldn’t see him but for his wide backside and swollen fingers half stuck in his back pockets, thumbs splayed on his lower back like a woman with child.
“She can hear you fine, you know,” Lacie said, stabbing the last crotch stained pair of underdrawers to the line.
“Well, she’s going to service and I don’t care what she thinks about it.”
The legs waddled toward the back porch. Hinges squealed like pigs and wood jarred wood as Lacie’s reply followed like a lazy dog,
“Don’t tell me. Tell her.”
But there was no answer and Lacie Mae turned at last to face the tree.
“See what trouble you got me in?”
Isolde grabbed hold of the branch and swung down her feet flapping like a blind man’s cane for the nearest purchase. Found, she reached for the trunk to steady herself as she dropped to the lower branch. From there Isolde was visible to the seeing world and she met Lacie Mae’s sprawling white grin with her own gapped tooth one.
“Well fine then. But I ain’t dressing.”
Lacie Mae turned back and picked up the empty basket, bracing if against one hip she made for the screened porch.
“Think on it a bit ‘fore you commit.” Was all she had to say.