It’s Saturday, and time for another short short. This one is just shy of 1000 words. I wrote it on May Eve, and thought I should post it before the month is over.
Hope you like it!
It was raining that day. If it hadn’t been for the rain, none of the rest of it would have happened.
Without the rain, I’d have been out on the Lake, sailing to the Island where the woods were carpeted with spring beauty and glory-of-the-snow. I’d have been picnicking under the tender new maple leaves.
That was my plan for the day.
If it hadn’t rained, I wouldn’t have been stuck indoors. I wouldn’t have gotten bored, and decided to put together a wreath out of dried flowers and bird feathers and bits of this and that, all hot glued to an old form I’d been given for a long-ago housewarming. Without the rain, I’d have been far away from the house, and I’d never have heard the doorbell, even if it rang.
But I did make the wreath, and hung it proudly on the front door, where the porch sheltered it. And I was home, so when the bell rang I answered it.
At first glance, I thought it was a child, standing there as gray as the rain, dripping on the mat. I wondered who was letting their little girl wander around in the rain, without so much as a hat. But then she lifted her eyes, and I realized it wasn’t a child at all.
I can see you expecting me to say it was a Little Person. But it wasn’t.
She wasn’t human. No human has ever been born with eyes like that. Solid green, those eyes, with flecks of gold floating in them. No whites, no dark pupils, just shades of green, dancing like leaves in a forest breeze, burning as if lit from behind.
Those eyes captured me, and I stood there stunned, unable to move.
“Can I come in? It’s very wet out.”
I stepped aside, and motioned her past me. That was probably a mistake, in retrospect, but I wasn’t thinking really clearly at that moment.
“Ah much better!” she chirped. She scooted by, and straight to the fireplace. There wasn’t a fire, of course. I seldom turn on the gas, except for holidays and other special occasions.
“Your hearth is cold!” She gave me such a look! Accusation, disappointment, condescension, disdain, annoyance. In my own home!
Wordlessly, I walked over and flipped the switch. With a whoosh the gas caught, and blue flames licked the artificial logs.
She started, and then peered at the fire. “What is this? You’re no sorcerer!”
I shook my head. My voice was still not working.
She pointed a surprisingly long finger at me, and I found myself saying, “It’s a gas fire. Natural gas is piped into the house, and a spark from the electronic ignition unit causes it to burn, but very cleanly. There’s no ash, and no smoke.”
“Huh.” She turned back to the blaze. “Well, it’s truly fire, so I suppose that’s legal, even if it doesn’t smell right at all.”
She turned her diminutive back to the warmth, and shook her hair out with both hands. In no time at all, it dried to white frizz like a dandelion clock, all over her head.
“So, I suppose we should come right to the point,” she said.
“Why I’m here. Are you daft?”
“I’m not sure.” Ten minutes earlier I’d have said not a chance, but I was standing there talking to someone who wasn’t human, and I had no idea if anyone else would even find her visible. So yeah, of course I was questioning my sanity. Wouldn’t you?
She peered up at me, and then around the house, or as much as you can see from the living room. “Not bad, although it’s been far too long since you washed your curtains. Still, I’ve seen worse.
“Okay, I’ll take the job. Payment will be a full saucer of cream, delivered nightly, and mind it’s fresh! I’ll have none of the waste that you’re thinking of giving to the pigs.”
“Wait.. what? What job?”
She looked at me, my own puzzlement reflected on her tiny face, and then scampered to the door, and threw it open. “There’s the sign, right enough, hung smack dab on the middle of the door, on May-Eve.” She pointed to my new door wreath. “Did you think no one would answer?”
“I … Did I… Sign for what?”
She stared at me for a moment, and then started to laugh. I’d never heard such a sound, like a brook chuckling, and butterflies dancing, and bright ribbons waving in the breeze. It was pure merriment. I had to laugh too. I couldn’t help it.
“Oh me, oh my!” she gasped for air, and then sat right down on the floor, pointing weakly at the wreath.
“You’ve no idea, do you? Well, that’s just too bad. I was looking for a new situation, and I’ve found one! You’ve hung the sign, and invited me in. You kindled your fire anew for me. It’s all signed and sealed, according to the old laws. The contract is made, and now you’re stuck with it!”
She hopped up and skipped over to me, where I’d collapsed on the couch. As quick and soft as a kitten, she patted me several times on the knee, and said, “It’s okay. You’ll get used to it. But don’t forget the cream, or you’ll wish you’d never been born!”
Then she twirled around once, and vanished.
But she didn’t leave. Oh no. She never left.
I’m not saying that I’m not grateful for her help at times, although I’ve learned not to say “thank you.” Not ever.
But you see, that’s why I need cream. The freshest you have, please.
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