By Michelle Slavik (Downingtown High School West)
As soon as I arrive home from school I rush inside my house to get my painting supplies. I grab a quick snack and run outside to the woods behind my house. I’m so excited to work on my nature painting for my art class.
While hiking through the trees I try to decide on a spot for inspiration. After ten minutes I stumble upon a mysterious wooden door hinged to a giant tree. It immediately captures my attention. I desperately want to know what lies behind it. After debating with myself whether or not to open the door I finally walk up to it. My hand reaches for the golden, expensive looking knob and turns it. The door slowly creaks open. I take one step inside and suddenly I find myself trapped in a net dangling in the air.
“We caught one! Dinner tonight! Woo!” a squeaky voice shout out. It is accompanied by a small, stout body. The person reminds me of an elf mixed with a yard gnome. He has a grey, scruffy beard that contains an alarming amount food. After staring at him for a little bit my instincts quickly remind me that he just said he caught dinner. I really hope to myself that he’s not referring to me.
He lowers me down gently and examines me closely. “Ah let’s see. Mmm good size. Oh and the artsy type too. This should taste excellent in the stew.”
“Uhm excuse me. I don’t know where I am and I need to get home ASAP. My mom is probably going frantic right about now and I don’t want her worrying,” I do my best to try to persuade the little man to let me go.
He glares at me with dagger eyes. My fear is growing by the second as if it were a sponge absorbing water. The gnome person ties my hands together and leads me into a small village filled with a number of small, cute houses. They each are decorated differently. Each little cottage showcases its own personality. One has plants covering it. Another is decorated with what appears to be feathers. All of them impress me, but one in particularly sticks out. It is covered in sea shells with a small pond sitting calmly in the yard. A sense of tranquility washes over me.
Walking through the town I begin to observe no one else is out on the streets. I realize that something like a ceremony must be taking place. I hope to myself that some kind of chaotic event happened so maybe I could have a chance to make my escape. Sadly I am wrong. We arrive at a clearing where a massive size cauldron is sitting. Surrounding the steaming pot is a large crowd of more elf gnomes who are singing songs. Behind the pot a stage is set up where people are throwing different types of food in. The little man walks behind the stage and attaches another rope to my hand. He ties it to a pole so that I am restricted from running away. He leaves me alone to make a speech and warns me to stay put. I try to loosen the rope, but I fail.
Rustle. Rustle. Out of nowhere a gnome lady appears in front of me. She is wearing a flowy, blue dress with a seashell dangling around her neck. She looks like a short version of an ocean goddess. “Hi. Don’t worry I’m going to help you get out of here safely. I saw you admiring my house earlier and felt bad. I’ve been trying to get this tradition banned for years, but I haven’t been too successful. Once I untie you, you must sprint as fast as you can towards that bright yellow light over there. If you lose your way, don’t panic. Just look on the ground and follow the seashells. Don’t ask any questions or hesitate. Ok. Ready. Go,” She whispers the explanation quickly.
I listen to her carefully and begin to move my legs while channeling my inner cheetah. I run towards the light and soon I find myself staring at the wooden door once again. It feels like déjà vu and the whole event never occurred. Instead of caving into my curiosity again I turn around and dash home.
Once I know I’m safe I start to feel bad that I never got the chance to say thanks to the kind ocean gnome. I decide to paint a beach with a sun setting behind it instead of the woods for my art project. As time passes by and I get my painting back I revisit the old wooden door. I place my picture at the bottom of the door. It poofs, disappears, and in its place sits a conch shell with the words painted on, “your welcome.”