3rd Place – July 2021

Gypsy Love Song


Donna Pierce

Zula sat on the back of her wagon humming as she thought about her grandmother. She had loved her grandmother very much. Kezia taught her many things, and one of them was a traditional love song for barren women who wanted children.
“The love song brings magic that creates children from wishes,” her grandmother had said.
Zula was swinging her feet to the beat of a song when she stopped humming and looked around her.
Look at me! I have so much to be thankful for. My mother’s beautiful wagon, the rich green meadows below, and that babbling brook over there, it’s full of fish!
Zula took a long deep breath.
Smell those wildflowers, now they are a blessing. What is wrong with me? Look at the sky as blue as sapphires! So why am I so lonely?
It is children, I’ve always wanted children. Is it too late? Am I not an old woman now? Will my grandmother’s song really work? She had told me that once you sang the barren song, twelve years will pass, then you will be gone. I don’t care anymore; I have lived quite a long life.
Zula retrieved her violin from inside the wagon and sat down on the step. She played her violin like she had never played before and sang the Gypsy Love Song.
As darkness grew, Zula laid down and drifted off to sleep. She dreamt of jumping rope, as if she were young again. A smile crossed her face as she saw the rope circle high above and come down to hit the ground at her feet. She jumped three times. Looking up, she noticed a little brown-haired girl stood at one end of the rope, and a blonde one at the other end. A girl with black hair stood a short distance away, waiting to jump with Zula.
I would love to have these little girls. How exciting it would be to fix their hair, teach them songs and gypsy dances. I could even teach them to dance with the fireflies.
The next morning, Zula rose to bright sunlight beaming through her wagon’s window. She heard beautiful bird songs beckoning her into the cool air.
Listen to those little birds sing. I wonder what kind they are.
Zula opened the wagon door, stepped down to the ground, and made her way over to the shade of a sycamore tree.
Look up there, would ya. Look at those three tiny birds, aren’t they sweet? Well look, those are little Flowerpeckers.
Zula sang to them as only a gypsy could, and they flew down to land on her arm.
“Look what pretty sweeties you are! Three of you, just like I wanted. Here, look into my eyes and listen to my song, little ones. You have come for a purpose, and that purpose will fill my heart with happiness. In return, I will give you all a special gift.”
Zula sang and dust spun up from the ground circling them into a magical whirlwind. The little birds swirled in a circle as they grew. Within minutes, they were birds no more, but three small girls.
The gypsy clapped her hands with joy and sat down on the ground. She opened her arms as the children climbed onto her lap. Laughter filled the meadow as they hugged and kissed their new mother.
Zula smiled and pointed at the black-haired girl. I will name you Harmony,” the old gypsy told her. “Your laughter brings me happiness, and it is in tune with my soul.”
“Come here, sweetness,” she said to the little blonde-haired girl. “I will name you Faith because of those big blue eyes and your long yellow hair. Surely you have a heart for our Lord.”
“Come here little one. It is Joy I will call you, and do you know why?”
The little girl shook her head and looked down.
“Because you are humble and have a timid heart. It is a joy to see a child with this nature.”
They joined hands and danced in a circle while Zula sang the children’s songs she had heard when she was young.
“From this day forward, my little ones, I will be your mother. You will no longer eat worms, bugs, and seeds. You will eat honey, eggs, and the bread I bake.”
That night, they sat by the campfire and ate as the old Gypsy played her violin. The heavenly smell of their mother’s fresh bread filled the chilly air, and they ate until it was gone.
I have never been so happy. I finally have children of my own!
Zula patted her old horse, Starship, and gave him a kiss on his nose.
“See, it is no longer just you and I now. You be careful with them when you fly. They no longer have wings.”
The children spent their days gathering wildflowers and Zula could find them wading in the creek catching minnows.
At night, they would dance with fireflies and sing to the moon. Starship would join them and let them braid his mane and tail.
Twelve years passed. The old gypsy became fragile and ill. Her children worried and cared for her. One morning, her eyes did not open.
Lost and broken, they buried her under the sycamore tree, putting fresh flowers on her grave every day.
It wasn’t too much longer that their friend, Starship, laid down by Zula’s grave and fell sound asleep. The girls braided his mane and tail one last time, putting fresh flowers between the braids.
Joy lingered by his grave once Harmony and Faith had left. “Sleep now my friend but I shall still call upon you for a night ride.”
Time went by. Harmony had the girls playing in the stream and dancing with the fireflies again.
One morning the girls skipped hand in hand to the meadow to get honey from the bees. Faith scooped some honey and walked back to the girls with a ladle full.
“Joy,” Faith said. “Run up to our wagon and fetch the honey jar. I forgot to bring it this morning.”
“I’ll be right back.” Joy smiled and ran as fast as she could to the wagon.
When she reached the wagon, a copper snake lay curled up on the step.
“How are you today, Mr. Snake?” Joy asked. “You should be sunning yourself on a rock, why do you lay up here on our step?”
The snake uncurled itself and raised its head to talk.
Joy stepped back.
“Joy, my dear, I have come for a purpose. I have watched you three girls for many years and know your hearts. Harmony is adventurous, Faith is filled with knowledge, but you my dear, have a heart full of happiness. I have a secret to share with you. You know the grief losing someone you love can bring. Let me whisper into your ear, and you will not succumb to such grief again.”
“Our mother told us about you! Never to trust you, no matter how you appear! An evil one you are, only to hurt near and far. I will not listen to your lies, and you shall not make me cry. Leave us now and do not return!”
“Tush, tush, my dear. I have curled up next to your beautiful little head at night many times when the moon was full. I know all about your weaknesses and your magic. I have watched you and Starship go on evening rides long since he has entered the ground. That is a skill that no other child has.”
Joy raised her foot and stomped on the head of the copper snake, killing it.
“Well, you won’t sleep by my head anymore now will you, Mr. Snake! You picked the wrong sister to tempt. For no one is taking my happiness from me. My sisters and I are stronger than your evil ways! Now I have a secret for you, I will live again, and you will be the one who will taste forever the sting of death.”
Joy ran back to the creek with the honey jar.
“What took you so long Joy? My arm grew tired, and I had to lay the ladle down. The honey was eaten by that bear and her cubs.” Faith said, as she pointed to the bears.
“I am sorry sister, I had something on my shoe, and what’s a girl to do?” Joy said as she did a little gig dance and laughed. They grabbed hands and danced Joy’s gig while singing a song like their mother did.
Many years later, under the stars, and not too far from the sycamore tree, three old Gypsies sang the love song to bring my sister and me.

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