An innocent mistake, pressing the camera button. The Welcome Gnome on the front steps stirred, his soul waking in the hot California sun.
“Water. Make it a spray, a spate, a mist. Elsewise, you’ll suck the life from this old soul.” The gnome skittered into the shade of an overhang.
The hose sang clear wet.
He wavered, quivering silver like a heat mirage, so that she queried, “Are you okay?”
“Delete the picture.” He hovered, real and unreal. “Stuck in a camera, I’ll shadow to dust. Resting, must, in the garden. There’s a spot for me. I’ll find my way.”
The gnome winked. “Disturb you, did we? Meant to, didn’t we?”
Annoyed, I watch the ivy root I’d been hacking slither into the ground.
“Burrow they do. Like rumors they monger, multiply.”
I slump in the dirt. “It seems hopeless.”
“Then what, let them take over?”
“Nae, ye be between Odysseus double monsters. Then strap yourself down and through it ye go.”
Churning waters, sailor’s oars pulling strong. A group effort. Is that what he means? “I don’t understand. Is it restraint or escape that let us resist the siren’s song?”
“A bit of both. Then dig in.”
“Drying up. Inspiration drying up. You bury ideas.” A creature not much taller than a toadstool, warty and fobbish…
Gnawing a pencil, I looked and saw a gnome pointing to a well-thumbed dictionary. “Warty I’ll give you, but fobbish. Nae a proper word.”
“Sorry. Am I awake?” I rubbed my eyes and erased fobbish. “So what’s this about?”
Fob settled himself on a nightstand saucer. “What with worry-warting about now, we miss what else. Poets can’t poem. Mathematicians can’t math. Reality can’t real. Every day like the last.”
“I thought it was me.”
“No, us. Together, we grieve it all.”