Twister, Twist Her | E. Christopher Clark

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.

 

The Lyrics

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 Game

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.

 

Historical Inspiration

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.

Date of First Recording
184
Date of Setting
118

Comments

Author's Notes

Thanks to Author Goddess and Kitoypoy for their suggestions and moral support while I worked on this article during my Twitch stream on Wednesday, July 19.


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Jul 20, 2023 13:01 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Definitely sounds like a children's game/rhyme you would hear in the playground. :)

Jul 20, 2023 13:51 by E. Christopher Clark

Thank you! Yeah, that was the intent. I'd originally conceived of something way more complicated for this prompt, but then this little rhyme popped into my head and was like "Pay attention to me!"

Now it's time for the awkward wave.
Jul 21, 2023 01:09 by Chris L

I still hate the screaming statue! Is it actually screaming, or trapped in a scream?


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Jul 21, 2023 13:17 by E. Christopher Clark

Oh good question. I imagined it trapped in a scream, not actually making any sound. I'm'a scroll up and see if I can make a quick edit for clarification.

Now it's time for the awkward wave.
Aug 1, 2023 20:52

I already told you on stream, but in the spirit of the reading challenge I'm leaving a comment here too! I like this. I like it a lot. You write folklore in a way that pulls me straight back to my childhood. Same goes for the Sisters and the Simulation and the Mother's Rock myth.


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Aug 1, 2023 22:22 by E. Christopher Clark

Thank you so much. That means a lot, especially since I'm leaning more and more heavily into the folklore and folklore-tinged stuff.

Now it's time for the awkward wave.
Aug 5, 2023 18:11 by Vivianne Morena

Absolutely fascinating. What especially grabs me is the two-sidedness: kids love running & getting dizzy & being silly with the song and at the same time - an entire village just gone and the statue's face warped in a scream. ♥♥♥

Aug 5, 2023 18:18 by E. Christopher Clark

Thank you! I had a lot of fun with this one and its different sides.

Now it's time for the awkward wave.
Aug 10, 2023 19:35 by Sapha Burnell

I do not want to be the parent/responsible adult cleaning up after this game is played at a kid's party which involves candy or cake... that being said, I love this.

Aug 10, 2023 23:03 by E. Christopher Clark

Hehehehe, now I know I need to write that scene into my work-in-progress.

Now it's time for the awkward wave.
Aug 21, 2023 22:38

Ahhh! Super cool! This was a fun glimpse into your world coupled with a mini history tale. I loved the way you formatted your article and how you moved through the village history from section to section.   Super fun! I loved it! I also read it in your voice so I think that added to it! Such fun! Good luck during the rest of the summer camp! - Amanda :)

Aug 22, 2023 00:13 by E. Christopher Clark

Aw, thanks so much for reading it and for the kind words. I'm glad you were able to hear my voice while reading it. That's so cool!

Now it's time for the awkward wave.
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