When dwarves take a break from mining, they like to wander up the mine shafts and peek out at the sunshine. They do not, however, like running into people and being forced into how-do-you-do’s and other such pleasantries. Mentioning the weather is known to make them cry.
It got so bad a dwarf named Elwyn invented a nifty contraption he called the ‘mushroom’. With a mushroom, which is rather like a human periscope, a dwarf could listen for voices and footsteps and take a quick look around before venturing from the mine. This invention changed lives. No more were dwarves locked into meaningless conversations which used up their lunch hour, but they could frolic in the sunshine all the same.
Elwyn was nominated for a Nobel Prize for his contribution to dwarf society. However, the Nobel people considered such dwarves to be make-believe and threw out the nomination. The dwarves are still upset about it.
Her green cloak unfolded behind her like a broken accordion, keeping her true form hidden from view. She made her way through the woods, her basket tucked inside, and her gaze kept on the ground. He might recognize her if he saw her face, and she knew the path well, after all.
When she arrived, she threw off her hood, triumphant, and stepped inside to greet her grandmother.
“Why, Little Red Riding Hood, you’ve changed your cloak!” Grandma noticed right away.
She will not be so easy to classify, to stuff inside a box and affix with the perfect label. She will resist her taming, and climb all over sensibilities with the wicked mischief of her imagination. She will dream it all and make it happen with the strength of her will. She will fight and question and be a wild thing, dancing her way through silence. And if you ever cross her, she’ll fill your tea with fairy droppings and you’ll never be the wiser.
The waters flowed into the pool, refreshing and cool. Within moments it mixed with fairy droppings, the tears of a frustrated dragon, and a drop of diluted ink from the first book ever printed.
“That is the secret recipe we goblins have been guarding these many years, but we’re tired now, and we haven’t got paid in centuries, so there you have it. It’s yours now. Use it wisely,” said a goblin who’d been cooling his feet in the pond. He picked up his satchel and headed off into the shadows with two other goblins.
The bewildered family watched them go, unsure of what to say and wondering what the recipe might be for. It had been an odd vacation thus far.
The story hunter hadn’t been to this area of the wood for months. The stories had flourished in the absence of their predator. If he stopped moving, and held his breath, he could hear the plot lines rumbling in the soil. Now and then a piece of dialogue slipped through, filling the forest with possibilities.
He heard dragons, and fairies, and the slumbering sounds of bedtime stories. It had been far too long since he’d heard such stories. He put his trap away and left the way he came. Best to leave this place for now, and give the stories a chance to mature.
“Unicorns, harrumph! What’s a unicorn got that we elephants don’t? Sure, an alicorn, but that thing just looks cumbersome. The weight and the angle of it must cause those poor beasts terrible headaches. A trunk, now there’s a handy appendage. Breathing, picking stuff up, smelling things, making trumpet noises, and it even works as a hose. The possibilities are endless! What’s an alicorn do? It just gets you rumors about stabbing virgins and the next thing you know you can’t find any unicorns anywhere.”
Each step felt harder than the last, every one a victory of purchase. The sun glared down, its heat intense. “Uncaring old orb,” thought the toad. She gained another foothold, and another. Soon she would be at the top, and from there – well, from there she’d be free of that silly camera at last.
The wood is charred, covered in inky scales. New cracks ran rampant through the scars of old flames. Rumor has it, somewhere deep inside, the fire still smoulder in his blackened heart. Ghosts of smoke are sometimes seen, or dreamt, or are mistaken with fog.
The wounded tree himself grows tired of the suspicion. He survived the lightning strike by some impossible means, and now he needs to rest and to heal, not reassure his neighbors the fire is out. Besides, if he wants to keep a lick or two of the fire that forged him, what business is it of theirs?
Gazing into the spider-made labyrinth, her mind grew dizzy and lost its way. She wandered ’round and ’round the web, unable to break free. A dying fly told her to run, but she found she couldn’t. When she passed a dewdrop, she stopped to scry inside, hoping for escape, but all she saw was spider. A stuck mosquito urged her to leave, but she couldn’t find the way.
A dragonfly flew past, his wing getting stuck, and she ran to him. He struggled in fury, and yanked himself free. “Wait!” she cried, as he flew away. “Take me with you!” He turned and gave her the strangest look, but he didn’t take her with him.
She sighed and set about mending the web, silk streaming from her body. She wondered if she’d always been a spider, after all. Foggy dreams of friends and books and human life were fading fast. There was little she could do but go back to the dying fly and finish off her meal.
The building appeared abandoned. To be sure, she knocked on the door with a vined hand and waited. No one answered but the rustle of the spiders who had already taken up residence, the whisper of termites in the walls, and the sad sigh of places long-forgotten.
She pushed open the door and looked around. The floor had caved in, decomposing into a banquet of nutrients for green and growing things. The roof had begun to crumble, allowing slips of sunshine and pockets of rain to come through. She sent up vines to widen the holes as she planted moss children and nanny mushrooms into the rotten floor.
Her work complete, she slipped outside again, her footsteps soft in the meadow without. She left little trace, but anyone passing the homestead would know Nature had been there, and took it for her own.