About me and (some of) my friends
Most of my friends are.... A little strange. Okay, a lot strange. Most people would run at the sight of them. They trust me, though, and I them.
I live in Sleepy Hollow, New York. You may have heard of it. You know, "Headless Horseman" and other creepy tales like that. Not all of them are complete trash, I should know, I live there. But some things about Sleepy Hollow haven't been written down, so I, Hazel Crane, will reveal the truth about my home. And no, I don’t have an accent.
First thing you need to know about me is that I live right next to the Headless Horseman's bridge. It’s not so bad in the daytime. I have a nice view of the river from my window. The Bridge has a certain decrepit-artistic quality about it that I really like. But nighttime, that’s another story. People who have lived here for their whole lives still haven’t gotten over the creepiness of the Bridge at night.
The second thing that you need to know about me is that I am an artist. I’ve filled twenty-three sketchbooks in my fifteen years on this planet. Mom calls me the “sketch queen,” and Dad calls me the Van Gogh of the Hollow. My older brother, Sammy, just calls me weird (He’s twenty, and he has no idea).
The third and final thing you need to know about me is that, and this is going to sound really, really unbelievable: I am friends with the Headless Horseman.
I know what you’re thinking. “That’s crazy! Hazel, you can’t possibly be friends with the terror of Sleepy Hollow!” Well, I can and I am.
He’s actually not so bad once you get past the whole “Head is missing” factor. His horse, Nightshade, is really sweet too, and she likes carrots. We spend a lot of time together, mostly at night when I can’t sleep. He and I sit next to each other at the edge of the Bridge, dangling our feet over the dark water. I tell him about my high school, my one friend Kenny, and my problems with my brother. He listens to me and gives me advice. He doesn’t talk, of course. He writes to me. His handwriting is loopy and scrawly, and he writes in old English which is really hard to understand sometimes with all of its extra E’s at the end of everything.
What I find the coolest about him though, is his pumpkin. You know how he carries around a glowing Jack-o’-Lantern as a head? Guess what: It can change expressions! I’ve sketched out all of them, or most of them, because I’ve never seen his “killer face” which is supposedly the expression he makes when he’s about to kill someone. However, he says that he hasn’t killed anyone in five decades, and I believe him.
You’re probably wondering how I became friends with the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow, New York. It’s really simple, actually. I saved his head.
No, really. I saved his actual pumpkin head from floating away in the river.
So here’s how that went: I was taking an evening stroll across the bridge when I spotted something floating in the river. I didn’t know what it was, but it looked somewhat like a pumpkin or an orange beachball. I went farther downstream to a place I call Willow’s Notch (more on that later) and picked it up, examining it carefully. As it turns out, it was a pumpkin. A Jack-o’-Lantern, to be exact. I was just standing up when I felt hot air on the back of my neck. I slowly turned around and looked up to see a black horse with glowing white eyes. I looked higher, and mounted on its back was the Headless Horseman. I froze for like, five minutes before I managed to stretch out my hand with the pumpkin in it. “H-Here.... I th-think this is y-yours,” I stammered, because honestly, who wouldn’t be scared meeting the terror of Sleepy Hollow? “Please d-don’t kill m-me....” I whispered. To my great surprise, he gently took the head out of my hands and ruffled my already messy hair, which made me giggle a little. His horse snuffed in my face and nudged me gently. He rode off, but not before showing off with that horse-rearing-up thing that he does in so many pictures, which I later sketched on the last page of the sketchbook that I keep hidden from everyone but my closest friends.
So I went back the next night, gave his horse a sugar cube and showed the Horseman my sketch of him (Which he applauded to my great delight), and we’ve been friends ever since.
About Kenny and (Some of) his friends
Kenny has been my best friend ever since the day I first moved here. He’s blond-ish brown, as tall as me,with a slight tan and bruises all over his arms and legs. No, he doesn’t get in fights and he doesn’t really go bike riding or do any sports (But he plays the acoustic guitar like a beast). Kenny has leukemia, a type of cancer that affects the marrow in bones, making it harder for them to produce the correct blood cells and platelets necessary for fighting infections and stopping bleeding. It’s not terminal as far as we know (I go with him to all of his doctor’s visits) and he should be done with his chemotherapy in about a year.
Despite his condition, Kenny has remained my loyal and faithful friend, always picking me up when I fall and comforting me when I need it most. He’s also the only living person that knows about and has seen my headless buddy. He has a supernatural friend himself. Her name is Willow. Remember when I told you about Willow’s Notch down by the river? She lives, er, haunts there and has for 250 years. She resides in a large weeping willow that has tresses so long they brush the ground gently and caress the water, causing little ripples. The lowest branches are an arm’s length above your head, and the longest one extends about three feet out over the river.
Kenny and I go there to have picnics sometimes and he brings along his beautifully dark-stained guitar to play for Willow and me. I’m the one who makes the food, of course. Kenny can’t cook to save his life. The Horseman rarely joins us for the picnics (I think he’s got a crush on Willow, which makes him shy around her) but when he does, he always brings Kenny some new sheet music to play on his guitar, me something new to draw, and he brings Willow lilies to lay at the base of her tree. Willow absolutely loves when the Horseman visits, she told Kenny so one time when it was just Kenny, her, and Me. I was down by the river barefooted and observing the fish swimming downstream, Kenny was strumming his guitar, and Willow was making a wreath of flowers for Kenny’s hair (she had already finished mine, a wreath of waterlilies and daisies and another flower that I couldn't name with beautiful bright blue petals) when she mentioned in passing that she just adored it when the horseman visited her and asked Kenny if the headless rider was coming today. Kenny and I shared a look and then I went back to staring at the fish. Kenny said no, and Willow kind of sighed a little.
They should be a couple. They really should.