May 28, 2013

The Tale of Dozyville

So, I told some of my dear writer friends that we should do a small project; each of us should write our own short story based off of a picture I found on Pinterest, and then share it with each other. I thought it would be a good idea for me to share with everyone else in the meantime, since it's just for fun. ;)
    And now, here is the picture... and then begins my short story.

Amelia was walking through the garden, picking ripe pods from the rows of peas. Mother was selling the chickens' eggs and fresh leeks at the market, and Father was working in the wheat fields with the other men of Dozyville.

    So, Amelia was by herself that sunny summer morning, which suited her just fine. She carried the basket of pods into her parents' cottage, stoked the fire, swept the ever-dusty floor for the third time that day, and sat down to shuck the pea pods at the table.

    The peas were perfectly green, and Amelia helped herself to a large handful when the basket was full. She was already feeling quite sleepy, though the day was new. Without really meaning to, Amelia dozed off, her pale brown braid dusting some peas onto the floor as she leaned her head down onto the table. She began to dream sweet dreams of trees gushing with fresh sap for maple syrup. Sweet, surreal syrup.... She slipped her arm under her head to make the dream even pleasanter, and in her whimsical rest didn't notice the sprite climbing out of the cauldron.

    Sprites like mischief, and living near Dozyville, they often chose to be mischievous to the unknowing people there. You may have guessed by now that there is a reason why the town is so named: Sprites put a sleeping spell over their victims, whispering little soothing songs that are too soft for the big people to hear, but too powerful for them to fight against even if they should happen to know about the rogues all around them.

    These particular sprites were young and small enough to easily hide behind the carrots and potatoes and onions Amelia had placed in the cauldron to make soup for luncheon. Sprites are moderately patient, but when Amelia had lit the fire their little toes grew hot, so they cast their spell hurriedly, hopped up on top of the hot vegetables and crawled out of the cauldron, quite ready to avenge their blistered toes.

    "Let's tie her braid to the leg of the table," one sprite suggested eagerly.

    Two more sprites followed after the first, and one nodded in agreement. "Let's mush peas in her hair and under her fingernails!"

    The third was lazier, and had grown a bit of an appetite waiting so long in the cauldron. He began eating peas, smiling impishly while his brothers began to work their mischief.

    A fourth sprite was still peeking over the edge of the cauldron, and took a moment and a great deal of strength to tumble over the lip, narrowly missing the fire as he fell. Amelia snorted in her sleep, and all four sprites froze in their places. But Amelia did not wake, and so they let out a quiet, unified sigh and went back to work.

    The sprites snickered as they finished their handiwork and scampered out the front door of the cottage. They steered towards the garden and began pulling up carrots and nibbling the young leeks that Amelia's mother deemed to small yet to sell. They congratulated each other on their success and enjoyed their prize, stuffing as many seeds and beans and other small vegetables in their pockets as they could carry.

    One of the sprites lifted up his ear to the sky suddenly, and looked alarmed. "One of the big folk is coming along the path!"

    They ducked under the cabbages when the lumbering big person came by, and nudged each other gleefully when the woman entered the cottage and began to shriek. "...So irresponsible!" was all the sprites heard as they scuttled away through and beyond the garden back to their secret homes, chuckling all the way.

    In the forest that surrounded Dozyville, in the shelter of the tall trees, these four sprites lived with the rest of their kin. They retold the events of their day to a rapt audience. But as they went to bed that night in their oak-leaf and thistle-down nests, the sprites planned the same scheme for the following day. "Only this time," the laziest of the four said excitedly, "we'll start before the girl's mum has left for the day, and leave a surprise for the father when he returns from work after dusk!"

    The other sprites agreed and whispered a special little song to sooth themselves to a light summer sleep.

    The next morning, the sprites left before the sun touched the top of the horizon, stumbling through the dark to the cottage on the edge of Dozyville. Amelia was up earlier than usual, not doubt trying to make up for her sleepy mistake the day before, and was already in the garden harvesting food, confusion riddling her face at the tiny bites marks on the vegetables.

    When Amelia at length went into the cottage, the sprites followed cautiously. They narrowly missing being trod upon in their hurry to hide beneath the stove, trying to avoid being seen. The tips of their pointy little ears brushed the black metal of the stove, and they grumbled to each other that it was already lit for morning tea. Their little brows began to drip with sweat as they waited for Amelia's mother to wake - which seemed to take hours - and then eagerly put the sleeping spell over the big folk and crawled out from beneath their hot hideout.

    There were no peas to mush into hair today, but as they crossed the floor to the big people's toes, the sprites noticed a great deal of not-yet-swept dirt. They glanced at each other, grinning impishly. "What an opportunity!" one of them said as Amelia and her mother snored and dreamed.

    The sprites scooped up handfuls of dust and dirt, and in pairs climbed up the skirts of the women and onto their laps. They drew pictures of the people on their aprons from a sprite's perspective - fat, stupid, slow, and of course sleepy - and colored their faces and fingers black with stray charcoal fallen on the hearth.

    The sprites clapped their hands with delight and waited near the cottage until night, munching on vegetables until Amelia's father returned home from a long day of working in the fields. The man scratched his head in such confusion, the sprites were stuffing leaves up each others' noses to keep from laughing too loudly.

    Off they went back to their homes; they recounted their tale of success, and their kin laughed harder than ever. Some of them asked to join the four the next day for another adventure, and made even more dastardly plans.

    This time, Amelia and Mother were up and Father with them, for it was the rest day of the week. "What luck!" the sprites said to one another, "We again have them just where we want them! What great and terrible trouble we can make for them now!"

    Gleefully they sang the sleeping spell and began their work, this time tying the laces of all of the big peoples' six boots together in one great braid under the table, spilling honey on their heads - "What a mess this will be when they wake!" - and stuffing their sleeves with straw.

    "Scarecrows!" one sprite sang, dancing upon the table.

"Scarecrows sleeping in their chairs,
dreaming of daisies, unawares
They know not what ails their peaceful home;
we sprites, I say, cousins of the gnome!" 

    The sprites giggled and left the cottage, patting each other on the back. They stopped short when they heard a strange sound in the garden. A bleating, a baa-ing.... The voice of a goat with a very long grey beard, one that had apparently strayed into the garden for a snack.

    "What luck!" cried the sprites. "More mischief to do!" But as they drew near, the goat gobbled them up, only the two youngest and most agile escaping to bring the news to their kin.

    The sprites were troubled - imagine, troublemakers troubled, having never failed in their impish arts in all their lives! They worried and discussed the issue, and finally decided to put the goat to sleep, or possibly risk every one of them being eaten as well.

    The next day, the three sprites who drew the shortest straws sat behind the cabbages, gulping as they looked up at the great dumb animal which posed them such a threat. They nudged each other to go first, until at last they clumped together and stumbled nearer to the goat, staring up into the beast's unnerving, horizontal eyes.

    They opened their mouths and squeaked out a short sleeping song, but the goat did not even blink. It munched on the sprites as though they too were tasty garden greens.

     Soon, others in Dozyville began keeping goats, and though they never knew exactly why, they realized it somehow prevented them from falling into random, catastrophic naps day-by-day. And so, the sprites had no other choice but to keep to themselves or themselves be made into dinner! The hungry goats kept the gardens clear of sprites, day and night, and Dozyville at last was free of their mischief for good.

Better to do good uncredited under someone's nose than to be caught in the act of mischief.

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