Don't Thank the Gnomes

I started the morning by sneaking into a strange house through an unsealed milk door. There was a broken shoe heel on the second floor—its wrongness drew me up the stairs as sure as a cord tied round my ribs. It was done before the lady of the house could sigh.

The next house was brick and so I, being of the Earth, could slip between the cracks. Modern wiring was a bitch, but I managed. Here, a child’s handheld game machine had met a bath. Though not an electronic-smith, I’d long ago lost my fear of iron—my will could right the wrong nonetheless.

The third house spelled my doom. I’d been there before, but had somehow forgotten. I’d made a believer out of the household son. He waited for me, sat with milk and honey beside a broken pair of spectacles.

Gratitude and fear swelled both in my chest. His glasses I fixed, and his offering I supped. Long unused to the proper rites, I confess I spilled some in my beard.

“Thanks,” he said, habitually, mistakenly.

With that, I began a century spent as stone.

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