Etwas the Elf

Etwas the Elf
Our heroine, photo by Maia Ycot

Monday, October 31, 2011

Etwas the Elf and the ghastly gale.

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the tall grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall grass when the bright full moon punched a hole through the cloth of clouds that held its light.  Wind rose and rattled the dry weeds and far away. In the distance a man or animal keened a high note.

Dry leaves tumbled past the elf and over head, born in the hands of the mysterious stream of air.  Muttering was picked up from caves where they had echoed for centuries and carried to Etwas' ear.  Only the concussions of falling rocks and hard-swung axes interrupted the history being told through the breeze.

Snow rose atop glaciers and tumbled down into the valley where Etwas stood, sharpening her knife on a blade of grass.  The ancient flakes, as dry as if they had never been water settled stealthily in Etwas' hair and clothing or stung at her hands and cheeks.

The blades of grass resonated with the wind and amplified its sounds and cushioning its touch.  Soon the leaves were playing a tin amplification of forgotten sounds carried from the distant place where the gale began.  She saw two squirrels hide in the roots of an ancient pine and a fox curl inside the hollow for warmth and companionship.  Far away, a wolf sang a song of fear.  Shadows cowed the tops of trees and animated the roofs of houses, huts and mushrooms.

The pines strummed the same old song the grasses sang, conducted by the furious animal of air.  Ancient conspiracies originally whispered boomed from canyon to mountain.  The dark tricks of unremembered schemes were retold in the moaning.  Religions and ideologies gathered and tumbled through the foreign flow and lifted the hair, fur and feathers of every creature under the wind.  Tornadoes were pushed aside.

Etwas held a cranberry up, on open palms over her head.  The scarlet fruit rose into the unnumbered fingers of the mysterious wind which took the berry, breathed happily and settled into a still and bright night.  Nothing remained of the wind but a message, "trick or treat."

And ever since then, when things get really weird, Etwas listens quietly and watches.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The elf, the witch and the verbose birch

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the tall grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when a witch flew overhead on her broom.

"Hi, Aunt Granny!" Etwas called.

"'Ello, Etwas," Granny Weatherwax answered, hovering a few feet off the ground.  "I'm off to talk to a tree.  Want to come with me?"

"Sure!" Etwas answered and she shimmied up a venus fly trap, tossed a pebble into the bloom so that the hungry flower snapped shut.  Then Etwas jumped on top of the sealed bloom and into the straw at the back of the witch's broom.  The pair pulled away slowly and the broom rocked and slalomed a few feet to the bottom of a birch tree where they stopped.  The elf looked back at the venus fly trap they had just left as the witch creaked and groaned and stepped down.

Granny Weatherwax opened her arms and danced* around the old birch.  "Oooo-oo-oo-wee" she sang.

"What does 'Ooo-oo-oo-wee' mean in tree?" Etwas asked the witch.

"Oooo-oo-oo-wee," the witch corrected.  "It means 'this is witchcraft, tree.'  It is supposed to convince the tree magic is afoot.  Trees tend to speak up when magic is afoot. That's why I never use magyick.  Makes 'em too long winded.  I once pulled out some eyes of newt to count them while walking under an Elm and had to sit through Three Hundred Years: A Dissertation and Treatise on The Natural and Social History Of This Here Yard."

"What makes witches long-winded," Etwas asked curiously.

"Elves," answered Esme.  "Elves. Ears.  OK, I think my work is done here."  She got back on her broom and waved the little Elf back on.

"Did the tree speak?" asked Etwas.

"Not yet.  I could tell by her silence she was working on some long, tiresome complaint.  No point dancing for that.  Basic headology.  Hop on and I'll explain."

"Oh, thanks, Aunt Granny.  I can walk from here."

And ever since then, elves are cautious around shy witches and verbose trees.

* "Danced," appears here because this is a fairy tale.  Were this journalism, this simple verb would be replaced with the more elaborate but accurate "stumbled sidewise in a circle despite apparent sobriety."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Elf and the Crawling Chaos

Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she met the crawling chaos, Nyarlathotep, shuffling the other way practicing magic tricks.

"Pick a card, any card," droned the demon from the center of the Earth to the Elf as he lowered a fresh pack to Etwas at the end of a greasy tentacle.

"I'd like the Queen of Hearts, please/"

"Don't tell me what you pick," the dancing malevolence chanted, instructively.  With a single boneless, suckered digit he pushed a single card forward and Etwas took a different one.

"I like this game, thanks!" said Etwas and ducked into a briar patch and over to a grassy hillside where she threw the card onto the ground in front of her, jumped onto it and surfed to the bottom of the hill yelling "wheeeeeeeeeeeeee!"  When she reached the bottom she pinned the playing card onto a twig with pine needles and sailed back upstream on an oak leaf.  The fresh breath of October against her gambler's sail propelled the little Elf and her tiny boat so quickly upstream that at times it seemed she was boating on mist rather than water.

"Was...it...the...four...of...diamonds?" called the infernal magician.

Soon, Etwas, the boat and the playing sail were spinning in the vapors at the bottom of the Seljalandsfoss.  The water on the card had softened and the elf gathered diagonal corners in her hands and the force of the mist rising from the fallen stream lifted her high in the air.  She pulled the bunches of corner apart and glid back to the crafty monster's shoulder.

"Seven of clubs?" the menace asked.

Etwas looked down at her hands which by now held only tatters.

"I didn't check," the elf admitted.

"Give me your soul."

"What?"

"Can I have your soul?"

"If you're hungry I can get you a blueberry."

"That's not what I had in mind."

Etwas balled up what was left of the playing card and placed it in a mound on the deck of cards and hoisted the partially mulched stack onto Nyarlathotep's copy of the forbidden collection, Necronomicon, by the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred.  Then she sprinted back into the weeds to play some more.

"Thanks for the fun!" she called as the frustrated psychophagist's suckered limbs tumbled and shook.

"Drat," muttered the demon.  "Eamon!"

And ever since then, whenever Elves deal with the Devil, they keep their hand busy.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The elf and the unconsoled ghost

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of tall grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she met a ghost, hovering above a low stump, spectral head slumped onto its chest.

"What's the matter, um, Mr. or Ms. Ghost?" Etwas gently inquired.

"Boo," answered the spirit.

Etwas sat down in the dirt besides the ghost.  After a time had gone by, Etwas looked up at and through the ghost.  "Nice day, huh?"

"Boo."

Another interval passed before the elf spoke again.  "I can't quite tell.  Do you have a tail?"

"Boo."

There was another long time that the elf and the ghost sat silently.  Finally the ghost rattled and groaned and asked "Doooooo yooooouuu haaaaaave a hooooorse?"

"I have a butterfly," chirped Etwas.  "Want to go for a ride?"

"OK." answered the ghost.  Etwas came back a little while later on Rascal and the ghost soared along as the trio toured the southern coast and chased a few sheep.  And ever since then, Etwas has been as patient with the quiet as she is impatient with the (other) noisy.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Etwas and the motley crew

Once upon a time, on a misty, moonlight nigh, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she knocked over a giant mummy.  Helping the monster to its feet, she saw that there was a pirate and a medieval physician standing there silently as well.

"Shivoo me timbaws!" said the pirate.

"Eamon, is that you?" asked Etwas.

"Of coase!  Me an' Cousin Jake an' Cousin Payton ow twick-a-tweetin'"

"But, Eamon," explained Etwas patiently, "Halloween isn't for four more days"

"It's true," shrieked the mummy from above.

"I know," Eamon went on, "but the school bawd said we should twick-a-tweet today."

"Eamon," answered his cousin Etwas, "doesn't supervision kind of ruin the fun?"

So the pirate, the mummy and the medieval physician took off their costumes and played kickball with Etwas throughout the dank and eerie night, as the normal old elf, banshee and pixie that they were.

And ever since then, elves are never intimidated by anachronisms.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The elf, the troll and the three billy goats gruff

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf running through the forests of grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she came to the edge of a creaky wooden bridge spanning Þjórsá River.  She thought maybe she'd dive into the rapids and yank a fish's tail when suddenly, the sound of hooves brought her attention from the raging stream to three billy goats approaching the bridge.

First came Grétar the goat to the edge of the bridge.  Just as he started across a deep voice from below the bridge boomed "Grétar, Grétar, Grétar the goat! I'll gobble your hooves and chew on your throat!"

Etwas thought about all the fat salmon swimming back and forth past the troll's foot with no beards and no hooves and considered that he might not be dedicating a full intelligence to the problem.

"Don't eat me!" said Grétar the goat, "I'm bony and hungry and mostly just coat!"

The troll let Grétar pass to fatten up in the fields across the river because he heard the next billy goat, Smári coming and Smári was bigger.  Just as Smári the goat set foot on the bridge, the deep voice boomed again.  "Smári, Smári, Smári the goat! I'll gobble your beard right down to your throat."

"Don't eat me! Don't eat me! Don't make me your meal.  I'll be tender and fat once I've cleared yonder field."  So the troll let Smári the goat go by, sensing an investment opportunity.  Besides, he could already hear the heavier hoofbeats of Ómar the biggest billy goat on the river.

"Ómar, Ómar, Ómar, eldest of three! I'll dine on your flesh and put your beard in my tea!" called the troll.

"Nasty troll," cried Ómar, "My hooves hurt from walking and my cell phone is gone, I'm in a very bad mood, so, fine, bring it on!" and he lowered his horns and dashed around under the bridge.

"Zoiks!" the troll yelled at a yank on his tail.  Caught by surprise, he leapt into the air, slipped on a rock and tumbled over the waterfall as Etwas, holding onto the top of his pants yelled "Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Splash!"

And ever since then, Etwas the Elf gives a nice jerk on the backside for conflict resolution and mediation and whitewater rafting.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Elf and The Grasshopper

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of tall grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she went bumped right into the belly of a grasshopper.

"Ave Mariiiiiiiiiiii-oof!" sang the grasshopper.

"Hi, Mr. Grasshopper," said Etwas.

"Hello, Etwas," answered the grasshopper and then, tapping his several feet, front legs akimbo and lilting, "Well, hello, Etwas, it's so nice..."

"What are you doing?" The elf gently interrupted.

"Preparing for the winter."  Then the grasshopper twanged, "Well, I keep my nose to the flora, work hard every day, might get a little loud on the weekends, after I draw my pay, but..."

"By singing?"

The grasshopper danced and twirled, "I jump down, turn around and pick a bale of cotton!"

Etwas raised an eyebrow and explained, "Mr. Grasshopper, cotton is not food and neither is music.  I found a terrific blackberry bush.  I can show you!"

But the grasshopper hung his head, looking slightly sad and sang.  "I wish a buck was silver, it was back when the country was stro-ong..."

And ever since then, Etwas has figured that those who long for yesterday would just as soon not get up in the morning.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Elves at The Picnic

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of green grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall grass when she saw her cousin, Eamon the Elf, trying to tip over a styrofoam cup.

"Hi, Eamon!" Etwas called cheerfully.

"Hi, Etwas!" Eamon answered.  "I'm twying to tip ovah this cup!  Will you help me?"

So the two pressed their backs against the side of the cup and both strained against but it was too heavy.  Then Eamon suggested they take a running start and they both took ten giant steps up an anthill before careening down and throwing themselves spearlike into the side of the cup.  The cup didn't move and the cousins found themselves ajumble on the ground with tiny flecks of white foam in their crushed green hats.

Then Etwas had another idea.

"What's a wevah?" Eamon asked.

Soon, the two were down at the edge of the pond, chopping down a reed with their little knives.  When they finally had the reed down, they started rolling it back uphill toward the cup.  After a while, the reed seemed to Etwas to get heavier.  Panting she asked, "Eamon, does this reed seem to be getting awfully heavy?"

"Not weally." said Eamon, poking his head out the reed.

Finally the two were back at the cup with their lever.  Etwas and Eamon dug a little hole under the edge of the cup for the tip of the reed.  "Now we just need a fulcrum," Etwas audibly considered.  "Eamon, lie down in front of the cup."

Eamon lay down and Etwas, with a mighty heave, lifted the reed over her cousin's back and into the hole.  She jumped on top and walked out to the high end where she bounced up and down until, finally, the cup started to move, tipped and fell over.  A cascade of golden fluid and several cubes of ice tumbled out of the cup onto the ground.

The two swam around in the sour golden sea and pushed the ice cubes up the anthill and sledded.

"Wook at me!" Eamon giggled.  "I"m a clown!"  Eamon had found red lipstick on the rim of the cup and wiped it all over his own face.  Just then, two enormous lips the exact color of Eamon's clownface appeared in the sky and made a big "O."  Eamon and Etwas laughed again.

Then, from another direction, a low and rasping thunder sent ripples across the puddle of gold "Emma Lynn!  Did you spill your mother's juice again?"

The pair of elves laughed so hard that orange juice came out of both their noses.  Then they ran away for safety's sake.

And ever since then, humans should always dispose of their picnic supplies in the appropriate bin if they don't want to be mocked by elves.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

The elf and her found poetry

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when a flock of geese flew above her head.  "Woo-wee!" Etwas shouted as she held her hands wide and behind her and ran beneath the the flock making her own V.

"I can do better than this," the little Elf thought to herself.

She ran back to her mushroom and around back to the stable she'd carved into the stem.  The elf jumped on her butterfly's back.  "Up up, Rascal!" she called.

She flew over to the blackberry brush and covered herself and Rascal's tail in sticky black sugar and then flew into the meadow where the cows graze.  Soon she was being followed by a trail of emerald flies.

"Now stop!  Whoa!" she cried, pulling back on Rascal's antennae.

"Now Right!" pulling only the right antenna.

"Now back!"

Soon, Etwas was flying across the sky at the head of an orange and emerald "E."

And ever since then, the best Elvin letters go by airmail.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The elf and the generous mole

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when a mole popped out of the ground in front of her. 

"How-dy-do, Miss Mole!" Etwas greeted.

"'Ello, Etwas," Miss Mole replied.  "Things are looking up.  How are you, today?"

"Hungry," admitted Etwas.

"Well, I 'ave a rutabaga I found in a garden.  Would you like to share?"

"What's a rutabaga?" Etwas asked.

The mole disappeared down into the new hole and a big white blob took her place.

"Miss Mole, were you stung by a bee?" the elf asked with sincere concern.

The rutabaga rolled out of the hole and the mole reappeared, with some leaves in her teeth.  She popped out and pulled out a purple tuber.  "And this is a beet.  One sec!"  The mole disappeared again and came back dragging a carrot.  Then a radish.  A head of garlic, a potato, an onion!  "Never 'ave better farmers 'arvested so little," the mole explained cryptically.

Etwas took out her little knife and made a salad that the two enjoyed.

And ever since then, it has been conventional wisdom among the elves that while all evil shares a common root, goodness shares many.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Etwas and the lazy day

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she arrived at the edge of a creek.  She made little boats out of foxtail seeds, put them in the stream and watched them drift away on the current.  It was a hot and sunny day and Etwas was ready to spend hours in just this way.

After a while she took a pine needle and set it like a pole in the water.  She set three little foxtail canoes behind it, and raised the pole with a flourish letting all three vessels leave at once.  The first out of sight was declared grand champion master creekcanoist.  Then she left her pole with four foxtail seeds behind it and wandered upstream and released more seeds one by one until the weight of the accumulated pips was enough to bend the starting pole and the gathered armada sailed on in a long single file.

Etwas bent over the stream to contemplate spontaneous organization of feathered seeds and how they imitate the endeavors of man and elf when a trout broke the surface and swallowed her up.

Inside the trout's belly, Etwas was not sure how to escape.  She sang "Those In Peril On The Sea" at the top of her lungs and the trout, who had mistaken the foxtail navy for a funeral procession of skeeters and swallowed the series downstream, choked on the seedlings and sneezed away flora and elfin fauna.

Etwas found herself at the head of a plume of trout juice and foxtails, tumbling underwater and out of control.  The stream picked up speed and soon she was crashing in the currents and dragged between stones.  She gathered up some of the seeds being battered about with her and knitted them together into a mat which she could surf to the surface. She rode the rapids with a "wheeeeeeeee!" before ending up in a stiller, slower stream.

And ever since then, Etwas sings a slow and worshipful hymn whenever she wants something funny to happen.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Elf and The Turtle

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of green grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when a hard rain began to fall.  Etwas laughed and ran through the cold and the wet and the mist that rose off the cow pies.

Soon there were streams where there had never been streams and rivers where narrow brooks had babbled and Etwas had many new, wet obstacles between herself and her mushroom.  She pirouetted and jetéd the elfin rain dance along a wide and outraged stream.

Finally, a turtle appeared up the bank and the elf went over to meet it.

"Hello, Mr. Turtle!" the Elf called.  "Would you be so kind as to offer me a ride on your back across the stream?

"No," answered the Turtle.  "You'll yank my tail."

"Why would I yank your tail?" Etwas replied, "when you're helping me get home?  Elves are never ungrateful!"

The turtle grumbled a little but finally agreed and Etwas jumped onto the turtle's shell.  The turtle set out but soon go caught in a current.  He swirled and bobbed and wound up far downstream on the same bank he had left.

"Here," said Etwas, and she placed a reed dangling from the other bank in the turtle's snapping jaw.  This time the turtle swam and tugged the reed in his mouth, pulling himself like a ferry across.

"Well done, Mr. Turtle," Etwas offered, "and thank you for bringing me across on your shell."

When they reached the other side, the turtle thought a while and then responded.  "How did you get a reed from across the babbling, bobbing, spinning stream?" he asked.

"Oh," Etwas said, "while you were spinning in the stream, I swam across and pulled the reed over."

Another long pause and then, "But if you could swim across why did you need a ride?"

"So I could pull your tail! Ping!" came the answer as Etwas yanked the nubbin that had not yet been pulled inside the shell.

"I can't help it," Etwas explained.  "It's my nature."

And ever since then, Elves have expressed gratitude in the same manner they do mischief..

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Elf discovers horticulture

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she came up to a sweetpea vine twisting in a giant's garden.  She considered the way that tiny things can become gigantic, beautiful things and she climbed up to the first pod, pried it open with her feet and let one pea fall to the ground with a thud.

It took her a few tries to hoist the pea onto her shoulder, but finally she had it and staggered back towards her mushroom.  She set the pea on the ground and shimmied up the asparagus that grew into the sky next to her mushroom.  From the top she looked around for a nice spot to start a garden.

There was a small stream not far below and one bank faced South towards the noontime sun.  She rolled the pea down the hillock and dug a hole until she couldn't see out the top.  Then she built stairs in the side of the hole so she could dig it further.  Finally, she decided the hole was deep enough so she skipped up to the top of her excavation and rolled the pea in.

She began shoveling dirt on top of the pea when a green flurry landed on her head.  "Peasy pudding hot!" screeched a voice from above.  Etwas dug a quick little hole beneath her and made her escape from the parrot's talon just in time to see the pea in the bird's beak.  Etwas leapt into the parrot's mouth and began pushing the pea out but she couldn't make it budge.  So she pulled her way to the other side and shoved the pea backwards toward the parrot's throat.  The bird gagged and Etwas used the moment to leap out of the parrot's mouth with her garden.

Upon departure from the avian, Etwas discovered the bird had been flying the whole time and she was high, high above the tree-tops.

"Rascal!" she cried as she and the pea plummeted.  "Rascal!"  She fell past the top branches of the trees and down towards the ground.  She could see the separate mushrooms and the petals of violets and count the blades of grass on a mound just in front of her before her butterfly circled around and caught her.  The pea dropped softly into the mud, where even today sweetpeas grow wild.

And ever since then, among the elves, a constant gardener is always a frequent flyer.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Etwas in the cavern of mice

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she saw a mouse darting through the weeds and gave chase.  The mouse was being followed by a hawk but Etwas was pretty sure it was running from her so she leaned into her sprint.

The mouse disappeared suddenly and Etwas, upon reaching the last place it was seen, found a hole in the ground.  She pinched her nostrils and jumped in.  Down she fell, three, four, five times her own height and landed on her bottom in moist soil.  Looking around she could see nothing so she felt her way along the wall of the cave.

The cave become a tunnel and the tunnel became several.  Wherever it branched, the Elf went to the right, her lucky side.  Her eyes grew used to the dark and her pupils got very wide and still everything was black until she entered a cavern and in the distance there appeared a constellation of green-lit eyes.

"Hello!" Etwas called.

"Hello!"

"Hello!"

"Hello!"

Etwas giggled.

"Giggle"

"Giggle"

"Giggle"

The array of green eyeballs swirled like a galaxy or an application of gnats.  Tiny eyes rose above larger ones and disappeared.  The large eyes swept left and right and then disappeared.  Soon, all the light had disappeared from the cave.

"Where are you going?" Etwas asked.

"Going"

"Going"

"Going"

She crept forward with hands outstretched to where the jumple of peepers had been.  On rare occasions the smallest sets of eyes relit and then furrowed out of view.  When Etwas reached the other side of the cave, she found the noses of big, fuzzy mice covered in frightened babies.  They were warm and soft and so Etwas leapt into their midst and took a nap.

When she woke up, she was alone in the nest except for a tiny crust of bread that had been left for her.

And ever since then, Etwas has believed that the most nurturing peers echo.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Elf, The Butterfly and The Geyser

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf took her butterfly, Rascal, out for a ride.  They flew through the forests of grass, over the canopies of clover and among the leaves of the tall trees.  As Etwas and Rascal soared several feet above the earth, Etwas thought it would be fun to go see a geyser.  Flying day and night for a week,  and stopping several times to ask directions from trolls, ogres and pixies, the pair finally arrived at Strokkur.

They circled around watching the water bubble and burble and rise and fall.  They circled closer and closer to the basin when the vapor exploded beneath them.  Soon a drenched Etwas and a soaked rascal were flying high in the air and out of control on the plume of the geyser.  Rascal's wings were waterlogged  and she couldn't fly.  Etwas' cheeks had never felt so refreshed.  They were pushed higher than either had ever flown before, separated and entirely unaerodynamic.  Down they came, Rascal floating down side to side and Etwas grinning through the arc of a steamy nose dive.

Finally, Etwas landed in the curly remaining hair of a balding human spectator and Rascal wafted gently onto his shoulder.  The human, who was already a little dandruffy, allowed the pair to dry out on his head and shoulder and even offered them a ride home in his rental car.

And ever since then, Etwas has often observed that the best tourists are family.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Elves and The Ogre

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she came upon her cousin, Eamon the Elf carrying a blueberry on each shoulder, hiking up a rabbit trail.

"Hi, Eamon!" Etwas greeted her cousin and then asked "Where are you going with those blueberries?"

"I'm going to see my bwudda," Eamon answered.  Eamon's brother was a big, mean, ugly ogre named Stevie Elfsmoosher.

"Can I come?" Etwas asked.

"Shuah!" Eamon invited.  So Etwas carried one of the blueberries and the two went merrily along the rabbit trail until they started to hear the thunder and feel the earth shaking from Stevie Elfsmoosher kicking a soccer ball against the side of a mountain.

"It's bettah to appwoach him fwom upwind, usually," Eamon advised.

Some time passed and then the ogre let out a blood-curdling roar that shook leaves from trees and scared snakes underground.  Then he bellowed, "Someone tugged my nether fur
I tell you, whether him or her,
I'll burn my candle in your head
And grind the rest to make my bread."

"Good rhyme!" Etwas praised.

"Stevie's weally smawt!" confirmed Eamon.

"Just as I prepared, to damage do,
I hear Eamon.  Is that you?" Stevie grumbled.

"Me and cousin Etwas!" Eamon answered, pointing at the other Elf who was, at that point, dangling from the ogre's stumpy tail.  Stevie stuck his fingers around his backside, so that the two elves could each hug one.  Then he lifted his kinfolk onto his shoulder.  The ogre considered and pouted so sadly that his bottom fangs grew slick with steam his nostrils.

"What's the matter, Stevie?" Etwas asked her cousin.

"Roasted peasant and toast onion,
I kind of thought I'd eat someone."

"How about some chess?" Etwas offered.  Stevie destroyed his cousins on his chessboard with as much satisfaction as he'd have found demolishing a stranger.

And ever since then, when Etwas doesn't feel like eating what's in front of her, she plays with her food.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The elf and the duck that flew.

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she saw, falling from the sky what might have been the biggest, prettiest unyanked tail she had ever seen.  It was downy and white and pointed away from her as though in challenge.  Down came the tail, and the duck to which it was attached, and Etwas scrambled to stay underneath.

Finally, Etwas followed the tail to the edge of a pond and watched the tail turn up towards the sky and then follow the rest of the duck down under water.  Soon the duck re-emerged into the center of the pond with a fish in its mouth, dangling by its own tail.

"Cheeky!" thought Etwas and then, grimly,  "It's on."  Etwas dove into the water using, of course, a butterfly stroke, but long before she got near pulling distance of the duck's tail, the bird paddled once or twice and was far away.  So Etwas swam to the edge of the pond, under an oak tree and made a boat from a fallen leaf and carved the end of a twig to make a paddle.  Off she went into the pond but still the duck was faster.

She rowed herself back to shore, this time beneath a willow tree.  With her tiny knife, she cut branches and collected willow leaves and made herself a fast catamaran.  She cut through the water like a knife but before she could catch up to the duck, it lifted itself off the water and flew over her head, quacking in triumph before landing across the pond..

So the little Elf rowed itself back to the shore and sat contemplating the elusiveness of a waterfowl's hind quarters when she had another idea.  She pulled the oakleaf boat over the top of herself and the willow leaf catamaran and again set out toward the tailfeathers of a duck.

Now, every duck knows that if you don't want to lose a feather you must watch out for elves on catamarans.  But whoever fretted an oakleaf rowing a catamaran?  Soon Etwas was in among the tailfeathers and gave the softest, whitest one a good jerk.

"Quack!" yelled the duck, no longer in triumph but in surprise and aggravation.  She took off high in the sky with the laughing little elf hanging on from the rear.  The duck rolled and loop-de-looped before Etwas' boat separated from its downy pier and Etwas dived after it.  If you're an elf, willow leaves make great water skis, but poor parachutes.  Luckily, she landed in a soft pile of birch leaves and bounced twice.

And ever since then, Etwas has believed that the battle may go to the strong and the race to the swift, but only the subtle will tug a duck's butt.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Etwas and the mouse ball

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of tall grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she heard the feet of mice thundering down the meadow towards her.  Etwas listened carefully to the drumming and calculated that soon her clearing would be invaded by four or five unpulled tails.  "Yee-haw!" she thought to herself.

But the mice, when they finally did arrive, were in no mood for Etwas' games.  They dashed around rabidly, digging holes, snapping at daisy-petals and leaping at lightning bugs. Etwas jumped onto the nose of the angriest mouse and observed "you should be playing."  She jumped onto the mad mouse's head then onto her back and then fell on her tail and surfed.

"There's no time for that!" peep-growled the biggest mouse.  "We have a party in the carnation field in 20 minutes and we need to decorate, build escape routes and herd these darn lightning bugs over the dance floor!"

And ever since then, Etwas only goes to parties where the lighting brings itself.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The elf and the blackberry bush

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of tall grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she found herself suddenly in a spiky maze of long vines covered in daggers.

The elf jumped up, grabbing one of the prickles and swinging to the next until her feet were dangling ten times her own height over another weapon-encrusted stem which was at least five times her height above barren ground.  She looked up to see where she was going and noticed a dark purple berry made of many shiny seeds growing from the bramble over her head.

With great enthusiasm, Etwas clambored from prickle to bramble until she reached the berry.  She pulled off one of the drupe's components and pulled the taut top seed to her mouth and took a bite.  Sweet juice filled her mouth and black juice painted her hands and her face and her clothes and even her pointy little shoes were colored like night by the time she'd eaten the whole berry.

Etwas looked down and laughed at her dyed body and then looked to heaven as she burped.  She shimmied further up the vine and found another big berry and ate the whole thing.  Then another.  Soon the day turned to night and Emma Lynn was full of sugar and invisible.

She could not see her hands or her feet or her swollen belly or the way home.  She missed a few prickles and wound up dangling more than once over black empty space, with a single handhold or her toes twisted around the vine.  By the time she reached solid ground once more she was lost but still full of sugar so she ran in circles until one brought her to familiar territory and she finally fell asleep under her very own mushroom.

In the morning she woke up and jumped up to start a new day of play when she noticed that half her shadow stayed in place where she had slept. Even now, there is a dark image of the little elf under mushroom where the blackberry juice soaked into the ground from her skin and clothes.

And that's how Etwas came to realize that sweetness leaves a stain.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The elf, the millipede and the long red cape.

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of tall grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she saw a millipede ambling through the weeds.  Etwas ran over and watched the graceful dance of the many coordinated legs.  She stuck her pointy shoe in front of the millipede's 72nd right foot (counting from the front) but the millipede didn't trip.  Instead, it brushed her ankle with the next three steps and tickled the little elf.

Etwas let the millipede walk past and daydreamed.  Finally, the creature went beyond her and the elf played hopscotch in the footprints, jumping and twisting and skipping along to the rear.  As they went, the furrow they were in narrowed and the millipede came to a fence of rose thorns that converged to a point.  Suddenly, Etwas saw a pointy hat just like her own bobbing near the millipede's head and a long cotton cape appeared at the millipede's neck and unrolled along the length of its body.

The little thorn fence narrowed some more until the thorns were replaced with pennies on either side of the millipede, so close that the cape brushed them with a shoooooooosh shoooooosh shooooosh sound.  When Etwas reached the tunnel of pennies she saw that they all gleamed at the height of the millipede's shoulders.

When she reached the other side, Etwas found the cape being rolled up by her cousin, Eamon the Elf.

"Hi there, Eamon!" Etwas yelled with pleasure.  "What are you doing?"

Eamon walked back into the tunnel a ways and inspected the partly polished pennies.

"I'm doing my pawt to keep go'd shiny!" her cousin answered.

"But Eamon," said Etwas, "Pennies are made of copper."

"I know," said Eamon, "I'm pwacticing."

And ever since then, whenever Etwas gets trapped in a tunnel of pennies, she thinks about gold.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Etwas and the splinter of candy cane

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of tall grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she found a bit of candy cane that had flown from the mouth of some careless, sloppy, intolerable child.  The red and white striped sugar splinter was stuck to a blade of grass and with some prying and tearing, Etwas made it her own.

It was long with a sharp point at its top and it made a perfect toy spear.  The elf set it over her shoulder and strutted up and down, back and forth in the shade of a sage brush, playing armed guard.

"Who goes there!" she would yell.  "Halt!" she would bellow in her high-pitched voice.  "Are you talking to me?" she would ask and then strike the air with her sweet weapon.

An ant crawled down a leaf over head and watched Etwas at play.  "Hey, elf!" the ant japed, "when you see Santa, tell him this year to make me a whole sugar cube!"

A slug heard the ant and joined the game.  "Ahoy, Etwas! When you get to the north pole, see if you can't make me some fertilizer for my garden.  I've been a very good gastropod!"

Finally a kitten overhead the jeering and mewled, "Aaaaaand tell Skyr-gobbler to leave a little for other thieves!"

Etwas continued her play proudly, jabbing at her audience and giggling with them but ever since then she's learned to be thoughtful about weapons and cautious with candy.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The elf and the bee

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of tall grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she looked up and saw a bumblebee filching pollen from an open peony.

Etwas took off her knapsack and threw it around the peony stem and clambered up in the hope of jumping onto the back of the bumblebee.  When she got on top of the big pink bulb, however, the erratic flight path of the bee made the dive almost impossible to time.  In fact, she landed pointy shoe over pointy ear three times having missed the bee entirely.

On the fourth try, however, Etwas held on to the tissue of one peony petal which lowered her slowly and she managed to get her knees on either side of the busy bee's back.

"My gosh, you elves are persistent pests!" said the bumblebee.

And ever since then, Etwas the Elf has used flowers for the slow pursuit of difficult targets, just like humans do. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Etwas and the war party

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of tall grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she heard a rumbling from underground.  Curious, she followed the sound to a cleft in the rocks, about one foot high, out of which a war party of dwarves were running, singing:

"Huff! Death! The Dwarves will e'er live free!
Huff Death! We carve the stone, the man, the tree!
Huff! Huff! No languor knows our zeal!
Huff! Huff! The people are our meal!"

Etwas looked up at the dwarves boots and the axes that swung through the grass.  From time to time, she had to jump backwards or forwards so as not to be cloven.  She watched the sunshine gleam off the armor and the fury drip from the dwarves long beard.  Finally, the hole gave up a litter, carried by four dwarves. There was a lavishly dressed and helmeted dwarf in the litter.  Etwas jumped up on the boot of the front-right dwarf and climbed onto his ankle guard which was so smooth and shiny that she slid back onto the boot.

"Wheeeeeee!" Etwas giggled and she slid and landed in a lump.

She climbed back up on the bindings in back and slid back down.  "Wheeeeeee!"

Finally, the dwarf in the litter held his hand up and all the dwarf soldiers stopped.  "Andakablik!  You've got an elf on your shoe!" he announced.

Andakablik, the dwarf, shifted the litter's pole onto his left shoulder, bent down and picked up Etwas in his hand, holding her before the dwarfish diplomat.

The ambassador bellowed, "Elf, you will be our first meal!  I will grind your bones for my bread!"

Etwas laughed, "You may be tall, Mr. Dwarf, but I am fast!" and Etwas leapt from the servant's hand onto his chest plate and slid down the shiny metal.  "Wheeeeeeee!" she was yelling as she tumbled over and over and dove towards the foxtails.

"Tall, huh?" said the ambassador.  And ever since then, the dwarves and the elves have been allies.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The elf, the snail and the bowl of beer.

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of tall grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall grass when she came upon a snail crawling between a tomato plant and a bowl.  Etwas jumped up on the snail's tail, hopped onto its back and sat down between the antennae.

"Why do you look so confused, Mr. Snail?" Etwas asked.

"There...are...tomato...leaves...to...harvest...but...boy!...the...bowl...smells...yeasty...and...delicious...I...can't..."

Etwas explained that some gardeners put bowls of beer out to trap snails and slugs and other bugs.  "I recommend the tomato," she added.  "Eat safe!"

The snail nodded slowly and started up the tomato plant while Etwas jumped in the bowl of beer, drank her fill, and got lost heading home.  She slept under a haystack mushroom and in the morning got soaked in a sprinkler's spray.  Ever since then, Etwas the Elf usually rides home on a butterfly, after a bowl of beer.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Elf, the Owl, The Mouse, The Can, The Cat and The Tangle of Yarn (Now with termites!)

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of tall grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of the tall flowers when she heard a sound.  "Ccccow!" said the sound.

Etwas looked around and saw no source of the noise.

"Kkkkki" said the sound.

"Kakamakalooki!" answered Etwas, in the sound's language.

The elf darted around among the foxtails and found a termite mound.  Etwas ran a butterfly pattern to the top of the mound, avoiding the snapping mandibles of the termites.  Off in the distance she saw an owl struggling to fly, which had been making all the noise.

"Wait for me, Ms. Owl!" Etwas yelled and hurried back down the hill, leaping from termite to termite as she went.  In a few minutes she found the owl.  It had a mouse in it's talon.  Around the mouse and around the talon was some yarn the mouse had been carrying to its nest when its capture had made a tangle of all three.  On the ground, the yarn was caught around a gigantic metal cylinder with an open metal top into which the paw of a cat was set insistently.

Etwas loved to help but it seemed she couldn't help everyone.  She could cut the yarn with her little dagger but then the mouse would be eaten.  She could take the can from the cat, easily the least sympathetic part of the puzzle, but then the mouse would suffer the indignity of carrying cat food to its last banquet. If she climbed the yarn to free the mouse, the owl would be hungry.

Finally the solution dawned on her.  She crept up behind the cat and yelled "woof!" and the cat jumped, sticking the paw further into the can of food.  Away it ran, pulling the mouse and the owl behind it like a box kite.  Soon the cat and her kite hied up the side of a birch tree where the bark scratched the yarn.  The whole menagerie stopped at a nest of baby robins.  The frayed yarn pulled apart and the owl flew home with a beautiful blue egg, the cat crept off to sulk and the mouse stayed and shared the canned food with Robins.

And ever since then, whenever a problem gets too complicated, Etwas always looks for an extra constituent to consider.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Elf and the pink snake

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of tall grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she saw a small pink snake slithering past her through the turf.  "Ahoy, Miss Snake!  Come play with me!" Etwas yelled after her.

The snake paid Etwas no mind but continued its slithering so Etwas dashed around a clump of sedge and almost caught up.  "Hey! Miss snake! I know a lot of slippery games!  Come play with me."

Still the snake continued away so Etwas darted around some cowpeas and leapt onto the snake's back.  The snake stopped her side-to-side swishing and began instead some up and down rushing.  Etwas hung on and looked up towards the snake's head.  She discovered it was not a snake at all she was riding but the tail of a rat.

On the surprised rat charged!  Over hummocks and into thistles and through goat's head weeds and under reeds and around a bramble brush.  Still Etwas clung on until the exhausted rat lay down panting on the edge of a pond.  There Etwas jumped off the tail and picked some of the stickers that had stuck her.  She dusted herself off and skipped home.

And ever since then, Etwas the Elf has been cautious with vipers in pastel.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Background and explanation

In utero and for a couple weeks afterward, Emma Lynn was called Etwas (German for "Something.")  Since the day she was born I've made up at least one story per day to tell her about Etwas the Elf. So that she can have a record of past stories once she's old enough to understand what in tarnation I'm barking about and so that my friends can follow along, I thought I'd try blogging the stories here.  

The Elf and some proud ants.


Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of tall grass, under the canopies of clover around the stems of the tall flowers when she came upon an acorn lying in the grass next to the stream from a leaking pipe.  She ran around until she found just the right rock and pried the cap off of the acorn, placed it in the stream and made a boat of it.  She pushed away from the bank and soon was spinning her way downstream.
After a little while she saw the palisades of a paw print from a dog and so she grabbed a pine needle and poled her way over to the damp paw print.  She moored her boat (using the same pine needle) in the claw mark and tried to climb out of the deep toeprint but the wall was slippery and Etwas got herself covered in dark soil before she could reach the top.
When she arrived, she saw a trail of ants carrying pieces of someone's picnic and she snuck up on one and grabbed the tiny bit of salami from its mandibles.
The ant looked at her and, seeing her mud-crusted face, thought she was an ant too.
"What a splendid idea!" the ant shouted.  "Guys, let's stand upright!"
All the ants behind, and the ones before all stood up one after the other and toted their meal with the haughty strides of an animal that has learned to walk erect.  All the way to the anthill, they discussed the arts while Etwas the Elf ate her lump of salami in the bottom of the dogtrack.
And ever since then, whenever Etwas the Elf meets a line of ants, they all do the wave in a series of courtly bows.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Elf and the hungry Cricket


Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of tall grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of the tall flowers when she almost ran smack into a cricket.
"Hello, Mr. Cricket!" she said.
"Chirp chirpety chirp," the cricket replied.
She watched the insect rub his front legs together and decided it looked too much like a diner getting ready for a meal and was a fair bit taller and a lot longer than Etwas, so she decided to occupy his active hands by dealing out a hand of cards.  "I de-clare war!" she yelled, giggling and watched as the cricket picked up his cards and together they played until sunset when the cricket hopped away home and Etwas ran back to her mushroom, uneaten.
And ever since then, Etwas the Elf has played cards like her life depended on it instead of playing like her life depended on winning.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Etwas and the rolling script

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of tall grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of the tall flowers.  She saw something with hard and shiny armor about her own size on the side of a dandelion. She leapt forward hoping whatever it was would have a tail Etwas could pull.

When Etwas jumped around the dandelion, the pill bug was frightened and rolled itself up in a ball.  Etwas was already in the air but didn't clear the balled up bug.

Her foot hit it right on the apogee and the inertia transferred from elf to insect.  The pill bug started to roll downhill and Etwas back-stepped to stay balanced.  The hill steepened and the rolling quickened but Etwas kept her balance and discovered that she could steer the pill bug by running down the left side or the right.

At the bottom of the hill, Etwas steered the bug so that it signed her name in the soft dirt and ever since then, whenever you see a pill bug in a ball, there's usually a little something nearby.