013. The Three Little Gnomes in the Forest

by crfricke

*This post is part of A Grimm Project, a series of short fiction pieces using each of the Brothers Grimms’ Nursery and Household Tales as writing prompts. For more information about the project, click here. For more about the story which inspired this freewrite, click here.*

Children know all about ceremonial garb. A blanket worn as a hood for invincibility and comfort—an old dress with holes in it for running away. Dresses made of old sheets, dresses made of paper, dresses made of the hammock net that broke the summer before. The very thing for searching out magic on the path of suffering. Children know about baskets, too, and what goes in them. The stories tell them to pack a bottle of wine and piece of cake for good days that will turn sour; a crust of bread and string of grisly meat for bad days that will transform into days of miracle. And a doll, of course, or that odd little souvenir statue you picked up on vacation in Hawaii—they’ll tuck these into their baskets without reading about them in a story, and you’ll watch them set out for the backyard and you’ll wonder, what’s that trinket for? Because you’ve forgotten about the three little men who delight in such treats, and what it was you offered them, when you foraged through the brush at the back corner of the yard, wearing a dress your mother had worn to a school dance many years before. Whatever it was you’d brought with you, you fashioned a shelf for it in the place where your back fence met the neighbor’s, and you placed it there, so carefully, for the three little men, who surely took it. Don’t ask me what it was—I cannot remember for you. But they took it, of that I am sure, and they adored it. They always do.

illustration by Hermann Vogel

illustration by Hermann Vogel