In Autumn, the leaves begin to fall making the trees nothing but mere skeletons, the air turns very chilly, the sky turns smoky and silver, and the moonlight shines down casting eerie shadows in the night. What a perfect time to sit around in the dark telling spooky stories to your friends. Maybe you can remember hearing the spooky tale about a girl who always wore a ribbon around her neck.
Some stories are meant to be told and retold. I find that this is the case with this particular story. Although I could not find any trace of the original author or the story’s exact origins, it seems to be of European descent. In Washington Irving’s tale titled “The Adventure of the German Student,” which was published in 1824 as part of a collection of short stories called ‘Tales of a Traveler,’ we see a common theme of a young bride with a black collar around her neck. However, folklorists refer to a European folk tale about a girl with a red ribbon.
There are different American versions of this story retold by various book authors in their own fantastic ways. Some of these versions include: “The Velvet Ribbon” by Ann McGovern, “The Green Ribbon” by Alvin Schwartz, and “Yellow Ribbon” by S.E. Schlosser. Like any great folk tale, this story has been passed on by storytellers, writers, and kids gathered around a toasty campfire alike. Now, I am retelling this haunting tale of friendship, love, and dismay to you.
There was a little boy named Noah who was very shy and always played alone. He was very lonely and wished that he had a best friend to spend time with. One day Noah met a little girl named Sarah who had just moved into the house across the street. At first Noah didn’t know what to do exactly whenever he saw Sarah. He was very excited to have a new friend, but his timidness kept him from letting her know that.
As the weeks passed by Noah and Sarah became inseparable. They played games, told jokes, and read books to each other. Noah had become so fond of Sarah that he nearly cried every time that she had to go home. He loved the sparkle in her eyes and the smile that she always returned when he stopped to look at her.
But, Noah started to notice something very peculiar about Sarah. She always wore a bright, red ribbon around her neck and he couldn’t help but wonder why. So, one day when Sarah was visiting him, Noah decided to ask her why she wore the ribbon. She told him not to worry, but she wasn’t able to answer his question.
Noah had his sixteenth birthday, and Sarah’s birthday was not far behind. They still remained best friends even after so much time had passed. Noah began to fall in love with Sarah, but it was no surprise that they began to date because Sarah also loved him. They went to the movies and school dances, still laughing at the same jokes they’d loved as kids, and telling each other their best secrets. But, every time he saw her, he also saw the red ribbon around her neck. And, each time he asked her why it was there she smiled and told him not to worry. It was an answer that Noah could never seem to find.
After some time had passed they decided to get married. They moved into a little house of their own and were very happy. But, still Sarah wore the bright, red ribbon.
Months passed, years passed, and there they were sitting side by side on the patio of their little house. They had become older, aged with grey hair and crinkled eyes. Still they were very happy and still Sarah wore the red ribbon around her neck.
That is when Sarah became very ill, hardly able to move from the bed where she lay resting. Noah became very worrisome, but would not budge from her side. He thought of all of the wonderful times and laughter they’d shared. But, still he never knew why Sarah wore that bright, red ribbon around her neck. Why was the ribbon so important that she never removed it for one single second?
They’d shared so many secrets before and Noah felt that he should finally know the secret of the ribbon. He asked her once again, and Sarah looked at him with the same smile he’d known for years. She replied, “Yes, Noah. I will tell you.” She told him that he could remove the ribbon, so he gently pulled it and it became untied. Noah gasped in fear, staring with eyes and mouth wide open, as he saw Sarah’s head swiftly tumble to the floor!