a story for my New Year’s Prompt Call, which you should go prompt at please, here.
It was January Third.
I remember because nobody was hungover but work wasn’t really getting back to normal yet – not the second but not the fifth, that sort of thing?
It was January third and I was taking a brisk walk in the snow. I remember the snow, because I hadn’t really brought good shoes for it. The snow was crunchy, the air was cold, and I was feeling good about myself.
And there in the middle of the garden – my favorite garden, the one Gandalf graded in during warmer months – there was a bush with flowers.
Now, the bush was probably always there, but I couldn’t remember it ever having flowers, not in spring, at least, and not in Autumn, the two times of year when I did the most walking. But there it was, blooming in tiny purple blossoms.
I looked around. I didn’t see the signs of the garden elves, as I liked to style them, but there it was, blooming purple in January, in the snow. I plucked a flower; it smelled sweet, the way most flowers don’t to me (long story), and it was both real and definitely attached to this thing that I would have otherwise thought was a privet hedge.
I walked around the bush twice. There was nothing there but three more similar bushes in lilac-like hues of these cherry-blossom shaped flowers. It was next to the little pointless-walking garden where, if nobody was loitering, I liked to walk in circles a few times in the shadow; if it had been blossoming last Spring, i would surely have noticed it.
I walked around it a third time. The flowers seemed brighter. And there, just on the edge of the garden, I saw her.
She was wearing a university polo shirt; her long and rather lustrous green-brown hair was tied back in a sensible ponytail. She was half a head shorter than me, but then, most women are.
She was also floating three inches off the ground. Her ears were pointed and below the polo shirt she was wearing a garment made of leaves.
“The garden elves,” I breathed. And then, because I am not unwise, I bowed carefully, the closest to a curtsy I knew how to do without a piano under my left hand, and I backed up, making sure to make no sudden moves.
“Your work-” I almost said thank you, but I have read my share of myths and the like. “It is beautiful. You do amazing work. But the snow…?”
She huffed, looking so irked that, for a moment, I worried. But her irritation was not aimed at me. “The weather.” She flapped her hand towards the clock tower in the distance. “Not my department, and they’ve been going through staffing changes. It’s supposed to be sunny and in the 40s today.” She patted the bush, that seemed happy with its life. “You like it?”
“I love your work,” I told her, completely honestly. “And I will be very careful of it.”
“Best get inside soon.” She smiled in a motherly way at me. “I hear they’re having a fight up there. It’s going to get cold really soon…”
I took her advice. Wouldn’t you?