Twister, Twist Her
“Twister, Twist Her” is a popular nursery rhyme, folk song, and singing game in the land of Eden. It has been sung in these parts since the days of the Ceaseless Cyclone, and remains a staple of playgrounds across the world to this day—though it was banned for a time by superstitious Nalkéneans, who believed the eponymous twister might be summoned with a song.
Though many variations have popped up over the centuries, the most commonly used lyrics are:
The twister, the twister, the twister—
it twast her up and spat her out!
Oh, twister, oh twister: oh, twist her!
Return her to the here and now!
The playground game which revolves around the song has been played for nearly as many years as the song has been sung. It involves three children, one of whom plays the part of “The Twister.” The other two children stand on opposite sides of The Twister, each taking one of that child’s hands. Then, as all three sing the song, the two children holding onto The Twister spin her around and around.
The goal for The Twister is to stay upright and not let go of either of the other two children, not until they collapse from dizziness and/or fits of giggles. The goal for the non-Twister children is to work in tandem to bring The Twister to her knees, and/or to make her let them go.
Though an author or authors have never been identified, thereby making a definitive interpretation impossible, the meaning of the verse seems plain to most students of Edenian history.
The Ceaseless Cyclone appeared at random throughout the first two hundred years of Eden’s Second Age, but it was unlike any mundane tornado the peoples of this world had ever seen. Instead of obliterating the people, places, and things in its path, it unstuck them in time. It took stuff from the present and deposited it not somewhere else, but somewhen. And it is this terrifying behavior which the opening lines of the song refer to. The beloved of the speaker has been taken, but the speaker knows not when they will see them again.
Or if they’ll see them again at all.
And so, in the closing lines of the song, the speaker offers a plea to The Twister. “Don’t take my beloved to the past,” the speaker is saying, albeit in not so many words, “and don’t hide her from me until ages and ages hence. Return her to me now!”
Tragedy & Superstition
Late in The Second Age, during the time of the storm chasers, tensions surrounding the singing of the song and the playing of the game were high. The most superstitious of Edenians had already forbidden their children and grandchildren from uttering the words, lest they become storm chasers themselves. And then the so-called “Tragedy of the Wailing Widow” took place.
It was commonplace in those days for villages in the southwest of Nalké to erect statues of their fiercest old women at the gates. These sculptures, typically of widows, were thought to ward off evil. Their stoic countenances suggested that nothing could faze them, and for a good long while nothing did.
Then, in one of the most unfortunate coincidences in Edenian history, a group of children in the village of Fairwallow were heard singing “Twister, Twist Her” in the moments just before the Ceaseless Cyclone touched down to have its way with the town.
In the aftermath of the storm, nothing was left of the village but the statue and a few survivors who’d run into the nearby forest for shelter. But that wasn’t the most frightening thing. The most frightening thing was that the statue no longer wore its fierce, intimidating stare. No. Now the statue’s face was frozen in a horrified scream. And it has been standing there, silently screaming, ever since—a warning, some say, to any who would tempt fate and sing the cursed song again.
But most kids have too much fun getting dizzy with their friends to care.