Flash Fiction: An Irish Tale

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 7.18.18 PM(FLASH FICTION)

I wondered where the coins came from, littering the garden grounds as if strewn with a high wind.  Shiny, each one of them, they were hard to miss even partially obscured by the fresh earth that was clumped from recent spring rains.

I bent over to pick one up, noticing the edges were crisp as if never before handled.

There was something unusual about it still…the weight of it, heavier than what I’d expected.  Studying the imprint closely, I was curious about the image it carried, unlike any presidential image I’d ever seen.  Peculiar, really…whose face was it?

Curious, I bent over to pick up another one, tucked below the thickening stems of my hollyhocks, which were in their winters rest.  It was identical to the first, so I deposited them both into the pocket of my spring sweater, buttoned loosely to protect me from the chill still lingering in the springtime air.

I walked along, eyes downward now as I bent to collect more of these unusual coins.  In all, more than two dozen of them, each in perfect condition, except for the bit of dirt still clinging as I lifted them from the garden soil.  They weighted my pockets so heavily that I worried a hole would evolve.  To avoid ruining my favorite sweater, I returned indoors to fetch a jar from my artist studio, then carefully counted as I dropped each individual coin inside.  29 coins filled the green glass mason jar, emanating the rich color of amber from within.

Setting the jar on the windowsill where I could continue to study it as I perched on my stool and sipped some freshly brewed hot tea, a sudden shadow caught my vision in the garden view beyond.  I glanced up immediately to see who it might be coming up the garden path so quietly that the dogs didn’t make a peep to greet them.

But I saw no one.  Standing now, I moved closer to the window so I could sweep the curtains aside and really take a thorough look.  No one was there.  So I sat back down on my stool, wondering if it had only been my imagination.  And an idea came to mind.  I moved over to my easel and flipped the sheets of art paper to one that was clean and fresh. Using a charcoal crayon, I began to sketch.  For over an hour, I worked carefully but confidently, knowing that the picture taking shape before me was taking on a life of its own.  When at last it was completed, I sat back quietly.  Mumbling to myself, which was often my habit, I wondered how this particular image could have possibly come to mind so quickly.

The light outside was fading now, so I placed a protective cotton sheet over my easel to keep prying eyes away.  My neighbor was notorious for intruding on my time, pressing to see my latest work.  He irritated the hell out of me…nosey, that’s what he was.  Showing up at all hours, unannounced, pushy.  Using pretense like “I was just out walking and thought you might like this bouquet of wild daisies I picked for you” or “The mailman placed some of your mail into my box by mistake” which I knew was a damn lie.  I’ve seen him snooping inside my mailbox only so he can pull something out and then claim it was in his box by mistake.  He was a nuisance, that one.

I glanced at the windowsill again wondering about those shiny coins.  Where had they come from?  No matter, they would be of conversational interest tomorrow when Irene stopped by for her usual weekly visit.  Nothing new ever went unnoticed by my daughter.

As I prepared my supper, a noise from outside got the dogs to barking.  It seemed something had fallen over out there…something that fell with a racket and a thud.

I opened the door to take a look.  On the steps before me was a heavy black cauldron, about the size of my stew pot.  Off to the side was a single black shoe, with a sharply pointed toe and a big gold buckle.  ‘What in the world?’ I wondered.

Just as I was about to lean over for a closer look, I was startled by a high-pitched cough coming from behind me.  I whirled around quickly and was stunned to see the exact same face I had just sketched out earlier in the day, standing just inches away from the top of my knee.

“Don’t touch that!  It belongs to me!” said the tiny little man, wearing a bizarrely green suit.  He couldn’t have been more than two feet tall, and I had no idea where he’d come from.  I was speechless, trying to get a grip on my senses.

“And where’s my gold?  I know you have it…because it fell right here…in your garden, so don’t try to play smart with me, missy!”

I gasped and took a step back.  My heart was racing as I tried to think clearly.  Was I having a dream?

“Snap out of it, will you?!  I want my gold!  And, if I don’t get it, I won’t grant you any wishes!”

Wishes?  What wishes?  What was going on here?  Where’d this little man come from?  Who WAS he? My silence only enraged him further.

“Oh for cryin’ out loud…It’s St. Patty’s Day, you dimwit!  Give me my gold and I’ll give you your wishes…and hurry up about it!  I’ve got places to go…people to meet!”

Completely freaked, I ran to the windowsill and grabbed the green mason jar.  I shoved the jar forward…to this odd little man who grabbed it so hard the coins rattled loudly as they threatened to spill over.

“Take it!” I hissed. “I don’t want your wishes.  Just go back to where ever it is you came from…and leave me alone!”

Choosing his words carefully, he said “The rainbow.  That’s where I came from…the other side of the rainbow.  Don’t you know anything?

And in an instant he was gone.  I couldn’t tell you how he was gone…only that he disappeared along with my mason jar and the 29 gold coins, leaving behind the odd looking shoe and the black cauldron.  I carefully picked those up and took them out to the trash.  As I dropped them inside the canister, I heard my neighbor.  “Nice evening, isn’t it?!  Hey…was that the shoe that matches the one I found earlier?  With a gold buckle and pointy toe?  Why, there was a shoe on my doorstep early this morning, and I wondered where it’d come from.  I had no idea your feet were so small!  Why, you’re just a real mystery now, aren’t you?!”

I’ve got to stop drinking that green beer… please, please let this be just another bad dream.

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