I sell magic by the bushel. Yes, I do, like my father and his father and all the other fathers in the pantheon of fatherhood. Gnomes know it well.
We help those in need and those with desire. Have you ever seen a beggar wake to be a prince? Why, that’s me at work! And I’m spectacular. Perhaps too spectacular.
I shiver to think I’ve done the world a disservice but between you and me, there was this case, a trifle if you will.
It was just after the thaw if memory serves me right. Winter had ebbed and with it came the first blossoms of a new spring, and as always the foibles of young love.
She came running up to me in tears to say he never noticed her and if I would be so kind to sell a bushel she could set things right. But I was very frank with her.
“There is might and wealth in magic, but no love,” I said.
“Oh, but I’m sure it could play the slightest role to even the odds against the other girls that strive to call on him,” she replied.
“Lady, I assure you there is not power I possess to conquer hearts.”
She bowed to my height and took her leave. I continued selling ware throughout the day to poor and sickly types, sometimes not charging at all and always what they could afford to pay. Charity had always been integral to the identity of gnomes. Our hats, indeed were most always sewn by the grateful.
But, I could only stay so long before I needed rest. The sun had weighed heavy in the hot heat.
Therefore, I retired near a tree along the beaten path. However, I would not sleep long that before the lady, who earlier sought love, returned.
“Mr. Gnome,” she began, “I beg of you to give me magic so that I may travel to another town. I can’t be happy here, to see my love cavorting with another.”
Looking at her swollen eyes I pitied her. Reaching for my tote I removed a bluish orb and sold it to her in exchange for gold.
She ran off before I could offer anymore advice. With a sigh, I went to sleep once more. I had been old much too long to understand such matters.
In the morning, I noticed my tote, once holding an abundance of orbs was emptied completely. Someone had stolen it!
Oh, the tribulations this sleepy town will witness, I thought. With one orb and illness may be cured and as much as a scar placed upon an enemy. Yet, with the six now missing, homes would certainly burn while murder reigned!
I rushed down the path into the hamlet immediately. Buildings indeed burned as people screamed. Cries seemed endless every turn.
Curiosity got the better of me and I went into the nearest house. A mother and father looked mournfully upon what must have been their daughter. She was still without breath but bore no marks of trauma.
“What has happened?” I asked.
“YOU!” the mother screamed. “You brought this wickedness! Our beautiful daughter is dead!”
I gaped in horror for a minute before checking the other dwellings. So many daughters worthy of a tiara were silenced in a bitter rage.
The lady had only bought from me to see where I kept the orbs, I realized. And I had let her trick me.
I tried looking for the woman responsible for all that had been done but could not find her in the hamlet. Only when I made the long walk back to my tree, off the beaten path, did I perceive her worried form.
She held the six emptied orbs in her arms while tears ran down her cheeks. I still pitied her.
“Oh, Mr. Gnome, I never meant to hurt so many. I just saw him with her and used the magic in revenge against her. But I lost control and they all kept dying; even those I knew as friends. Then, the houses started burning…”
“Child, I do forgive you but I can’t undo these awful deeds. You will have to keep the burden as will I.”
“What if you turned back the clock?”
“You’ve destroyed a town with love and now you seek to kill the world with time? These forces, my dear, are untamable and always will be.”
“Let me come with you then,” she asked.
I’m not sure why I told her yes; perhaps because we were labeled the same now; perhaps because we were the only two to understand each other’s guilt. But, I am certain these events will be trifles to the good we’ll do repaying God.
I liked it.