Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 650
In April, the spring of the year when gentle breezes blow and flowers begin to bloom, young girls everywhere dream of falling in love. Young seventeen-year-old Cecy Elliott, from whose point of view the story is told, also desperately desires to fall in love. Cecy, however, is unlike other girls. She possesses magical powers. She can travel through space and time, she can soar in doves, stop in trees, and she can become one with frogs, dogs, grass, moles, and every living thing. She sleeps by day and flies by night. She can leave her plain, bony body and spiritually possess any living thing. However, Cecy cannot marry a mortal. As Cecy’s parents warn: “We’d lose our magical powers if we did.”
Despite her parents’ warnings to be careful, to be patient, telepathic Cecy satisfies her longings for love in a special way. Because Cecy cannot experience love for herself, she decides to experience love through a human. She promptly dispatches her mind and quickly possesses the body of nineteen-year-old Ann Leary, a girl quite unwilling to have Cecy possess her. When Ann drinks from a well, Cecy enters her body and, through Ann, comes to cherish human love.
Cecy must work hard to experience and to maintain this love, however, and herein lies the story’s intrigue. Cecy forces Ann to accept a date with an admirer, Tom, a twenty-two-year-old whom Ann has never really liked. While inhabiting Ann’s body before and during the date, Cecy faces a constant struggle in trying to develop and nurture the relationship between Tom and Ann. When Ann spills water at the well, Tom wipes her shoes with a kerchief. Unappreciative of his kind gesture, Ann kicks at Tom and then thanks him only because Cecy forces her to respond.
Cecy is ecstatic when Tom asks a reluctant Ann to the dance that evening. Cecy has never worn a long gown, and she has never danced. Cecy controls Ann’s movements as Ann prepares for the dance. They heat water for a bath, iron a gown, and prepare for Tom to arrive with his horse and buggy. During the evening, Ann and Cecy dance with Tom. Both have a wonderful time even though Tom wonders about Ann’s new demeanor.
As they return home from the dance, Tom confesses that he still loves Ann, despite her fickle nature and despite his fear of being hurt. Inside Ann’s “roundly fleshed” body, Cecy tries to force Ann to return Tom’s love. Nothing happens. Tom reveals that he plans to accept a job a hundred miles away and asks Ann whether she will miss him. Both girls reply in the affirmative. When Tom asks Ann if he may kiss her good night, Cecy answers affirmatively “before anyone else could speak.”
After the kiss, Ann sits motionless, unwilling to move and unwilling to embrace Tom despite Cecy’s pleading. At this point, a lonely Cecy realizes that, despite her parents’ warnings, she would indeed risk everything—all of her magical powers—for love. “I’d need only to be with him. Only him. Only him,” she decides.
As Tom and Ann approach her home, Ann, directed by Cecy, makes Tom promise to visit a friend of hers a few miles away in Mellin Town, Illinois. Reluctantly, Tom finally agrees. On a piece of paper, Ann scratches the name of her friend: Cecy Elliott.
When midnight approaches, a tired Cecy, like Cinderella just returned from the ball, feels her magical powers waning. Before she leaves Ann’s body, though, Cecy and Ann again kiss Tom good night. During this kiss, Cecy tells an unsuspecting Tom, “This is me kissing you.”
As Tom sleeps, he clutches the paper Ann gave to him and never stirs when a blackbird pauses wondrously at his windowpane and gazes softly at him before flying away toward the east.