Crooked Elf

 There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile.

He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile.

He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,

And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

~ English Nursery Rhyme, There was a Crooked Man 

There once was a Crooked Elf who went by the name Kwissp E. Ceen. Not crooked in mind or deed, but in the spirit of the Bent, Slightly Twisted and Extremely Strange. He enjoyed many activities: walking crooked miles; finding crooked pennies to spend on smooshed glazed doughnuts or other irregular sweets; cataloging, archiving, and photographing all things crooked, bizarre and outlandish; getting lost in gardens and hothouses; and most especially playing hide-and-go-seek with his honorable friend, the most crooked and fluffy cat, Mimsy Poole.

Being a great appreciator of gardens, of course Kwissp tended to get lost in them. While rambling down some road or another he’d come across someone’s garden or hothouse and would be so enchanted by the sights and scents that he’d forget everything else. It always fell to Mimsy to find and bring him back home in order that he could get her supper and on occasion, a bit of catnap. This arrangement suited both of them. On one such day of rambles, Kwissp happened upon the garden belonging to Quentin the Vampire Botanist. And of course, he had never seen the like!

Magnificent flowers burst out of the ground in such a variety and a multitude of colors that Kwissp eyes crossed with delight. And what interesting flowers these were! Many of them had tiny vampire teeth or tiny vampire claws and some had both. How completely unexpected! How wonderfully, amazingly peculiar! And oh! He spotted a large conservatory. Imagine what might be growing in there! Like cream to pudding, he found himself deliciously drawn to the structure. Though he knew it was horribly impolite, he couldn’t help pressing his face to the glass and peering inside. Luckily Mimsy came to his rescue, for although she did share Kwissp’s admiration for gardens (what better place to take a well-deserved nap than under a lavender bush?), she couldn’t bear to see such an egregious breach of courtesy. Doing her cat best (which is infinitely better than a human’s), she urged him to knock on the owner’s door and gain permission to photograph, document, and classify each wondrous flora.

This could have turned out badly and may have even been the end of Kwissp. Quentin isn’t a social vampire, by any means. At best, he’s a recluse. At worse? Well, at worst let’s just say one should count themselves lucky indeed should they manage to even crawl away (with most body parts intact) from an encounter with Quentin. The only company he enjoys is that of his plants. Anyone or anything else is merely a nuisance…or lunch. Most fortunate for our crooked elf friend, it turned out that Quentin took a liking to him. This might be explained by their mutual affection and respect for plants. However, it didn’t hurt that the elf’s complexion was green as the leaves on the medicinal herb Groomwell. This could also mean that the Vampire Botanist may have devious (are there any other kind?) plans for Kwissp’s future.

I met Kwissp while sitting on a bench daydreaming in Quentin’s garden (I too, am allowed entry. Long story). He startled (nearly) the life out of me popping his little green face out of the orange, pink and golden tangle of some licorice vines (a new experiment of Quentin’s and exceptionally pretty). After I managed to get my heart out of my throat and back into my chest where it belongs, I asked if he minded that I sketch him. “Not a problem,” he says, “just so long as I can continue documenting these plants.” Since this bothered me not in the least, I sketched away. I think I captured his creepily soulful eyes quite well.

The Weeping Stone ~ An Excerpt from “The Knight and Knymph”

Back in the Forest, Knight began to struggle with his thoughts. What was he going to say to Knymph? And after he admitted his lie, would she accept his words and know that he now told the truth?

He wandered as he thought, not really paying much attention to where he was headed, until he strode into puddle.

“Daft fool. That will teach me, walking while my head’s in the clouds.”

He looked up at large gray stone that stood in a pool of water. It seemed massive in height, though slender in width, with a stream of water trickling down its center. He could hear a soft moaning that sounded like weeping.  Then a whisper,

“You step in my tears.”

Startled, Knight could only sputter,

“P-pardon?”

“Never mind,” said the voice now in a normal tone. “I have a riddle for you.”

“A riddle?” Knight turned around to see if he could spot who spoke to him, but no one appeared to be here.

“Well, actually it’s more of a paradox. Riddles are a bit passé, don’t you think?”

“Indeed,” he agreed. Then said more firmly, “I certainly wish I knew who I am speaking with.”

“Keep wishing.”

“Hmm.” Knight responded, but his heart pounded heavily, because he was nearly certain that the voice was coming from the great stone in front of him.

You could meet a woman more organized and practical, neater and a much better housekeeper than Knymph. You could meet a better cook, one with a better memory, a craftier woman, and a far superior and more experienced lover. You probably already know a woman who is younger, has longer hair, and material wealth. There are many women who know how to handle money and men much more successfully than she. You can definitely find someone who is less stubborn…someone safer…someone less in need of protection…someone who dresses more fashionably…and someone with a lighter past. Of course you have already met women much prettier and beautiful physically. A female less of a maze and more of a woman, less vulnerable, less of a smart ass, and less of a pain in the ass surely can be found. But this I can promise you…you will never meet anyone with a Heart like Knymph’s. Her Heart is what her friends love best about her…yet it is what they most fear. They fear she will end up hurt again. Devastated. And perhaps, next time, Knymph will be unable to rise from the ashes and they will never see her again. Knymph does not wish to protect her heart, but her friends? Well, they do wish it all the time…

It makes Knymph sad that her friends feel this way…sad for them…and a bit sad for herself. She isn’t angry though, no matter how harsh their words may be at times. Knymph listens with her Heart and the Heart always hears what is beneath words. Beneath the harshness lies fear, and beneath the fear, love can always be found.

The best traps laid are the ones laid by ourselves. And why ever would we do such a thing? Good question.

All she noticed at first was the heat. A burn that came from the inside out. Had she swallowed a sun? If so, did it have to be such a big one? She tried to sit up, but cried out. A pricking sensation danced around her forehead and a piercing pain shot through her belly. Then came the dread…a demon had escaped the Weeping Stone. A tear rolled down her cheek. ‘Not again,’ she thought.

“I don’t have time for this!” Knymph said aloud.

Suddenly, she knew something else. Knight is back in the Forest. But…he left. He said he would never return. She could feel his presence though, and the demon. How did a demon get loose (again)?

Sadness is a tricky matter. And in fact all emotions are quite tricky. Anger, disappointment, jealousies, grief, and worn out resentments, these can all turn inward or outward to destroy. That’s why Knymph placed all these feelings in the Weeping Stone. This worked out very well, most of the time. When a sensation became too overwhelming to shoulder, Knymph walked straight to the Weeping Stone, released that anger or sadness into the rock and moved on.

The problem was that the Stone grew. Rough textured and salt and peppery in hues, the stone stood well over twenty feet in height. A pool of gray tears lay at its base. Through the years, the salt of the tears had eaten away at the soil around it. Nothing grew here, except the Stone. The Weeping Stone had two important functions. One, to hold Knymph’s murkiest musings. Second, guard the entrance and exit of the Dark Forest…Knymph’s other world. A place of secrets past, haunting memories, and where monsters trolled…

The Door in Front of Me…

      Actually there is a door behind me, too. I’m not interested in that door, though. The door in front of me is made of a dark chocolate colored wood…with a slight red sheen. It’s old, but in very good condition…someone has cared for it and it is well made, sturdy, solid. It’s carved, but not ornate, a simple geometric pattern. Though there is something a bit fanciful about it…triangles. The knocker is very exciting. Pewter, perhaps nickel, it is in the shape of a jester’s face. I love jesters!

I’m not afraid of the door…or what may lay behind it. I run my hands along the wood…it has a very nice feel to it. Bold, I press the flat of my palms on its surface. I feel a slight vibration, but whether that is the door or me, I’m not certain. I trace my finger along the face of the jester…what a happy expression he wears. His mouth forms an open smile…beckoning…teasing.

          “Listen to what is inside of me.”

Startled, I instantly drop my hand from his face. His pewter lips move! His silver eyes alight with a charming waywardness. And though I am intrigued, I take a step back.

          “We’ll have none of that! Step forward, woman, and greet me properly.”

I blurt out,

          “Greet you?”

          “I’m not just a bit of metal, you know! I have feelings, I have soul, and I have power.”

Power, indeed!

What is the ‘proper’ greeting in this circumstance? At a loss, I fall back on the standard,

          “Erm, my name is Intricate. Intricate Knot, and I am very pleased to meet you, Sir.”

          “Just call me Jasper. I don’t stand on ceremony. In fact,” he chuckled, “I don’t actually ‘stand’ at all. More like sit or placed, never can figure out which! Perhaps, I’m both sitting and placed, or I was placed in order that I may sit. Placed or no, I am not without my talents, though.” And with that stated, his face grew before me. No longer knocker size (about the length of my hand), but now a full, human-size face!

It is very good that I am somewhat accustomed to magical happenings, otherwise I would have been shocked speechless and may have even giving in to a fainting spell! But no, I would never faint…I might miss out on something wonderful. Impressed with his talent, I did not hesitate to praise,

          “My, my, you are gifted beyond measure, Jasper. I am more than pleased to meet you, I’m tickled.”

A low, but somehow friendly growl emitted from the back of his metallic throat. Very sexy, though I had no designs on him, I can assure you.

          “Mmm, you make me wish that my talents extended further, Lady Knot.”

I rushed to deny,

          “Oh, I’m not a ‘lady!’ I’m not any such thing!”

He peered at me intently, not seemingly convinced by my heartfelt denial,

          “You appear as a lady to me, but if you wish to be less formal, I’m certainly game. What shall I call you then?”

          “Call me Kit.”

          “Kit it will be. So, Kit, interested in what lay inside me?”

Hiding my enthusiasm and curiosity has never been one of my faults (though I do have many and quite trying ones at that!). I clasped my hands together and exclaimed,

          “Yes! Most definitely!”

          “Listen then to the revelry within,” the metal loop that sat beneath his neck knocked against the silver plate that was fastened to the door, “place your ear here, against my heart.”

Unable to contain my fascination, I did just as he asked. Bending slightly, I pressed my ear to Jasper’s ‘chest’ and listened. Music! Beautiful music! An orchestra perhaps, but then Arch would know what type much better than I. At the thought of him, my heart contracted with just a small wince of pain. I missed him.

Then I felt something, just at my belly button. The door knob! It had grown, considerably, and was gently prodding me.

          “Go on,” he teased. “Grasp my knob.”

I managed to control the blush that wanted to light my face,

          “Well-”

He wiggled his sharp pewter brows,

 “You know you want to.”

Hopelessly, I gave up trying to fight the blush,

 “You’re really quite naughty, aren’t you Jasper?”

He belted out a roar of laughter,

 “My darling Kit, we haven’t even got to real fun, yet!”