Many a night have I sat hunched over my desk, filling reams of paper with inky words written in an elaborately cursive hand. And many a morning after have I spent discarding much of the prose and verses that had sprung to life the previous night.
So when the two elves knock at my window this fine night, I let them in and offer them tea and cookies. They sit by the fireplace, and at their insistence I half-heartedly read out some of my work to them in my best story-telling voice.
When I finish reading, they exchange thoughtful glances with each other and momentarily speak in a language I do not understand. The older of the two elves then turns to me and, with much more gravity than the situation warrants, says, “These are not half bad but we could help you improve.”
I want to jump up and down in delight and readily accept their offer, but something reminds me that magic, both good and bad, always comes with a price, and so I ask the elves to name theirs.
The older elf is not pleased with my question but he discloses, “Once we work through your stories, the words are cast in stone.”
“Yes, you make them up, we make them real,” the younger elf chimes in.
I thank them for their offer and politely say I need more time to think about it. After all, my stories are inspired by real life and my characters are based on real people, so this is not a decision I could take without giving it due thought.
I offer the elves more tea but they decline, saying they better be going, they have many more story-makers’ homes to visit, but they promise to come back tomorrow night and say they hope I would have made up my mind by then about using their services.
As soon as they leave, I begin to make a list of all the characters I could plot to kill in my forthcoming stories.
(Story originally published on Friday, September 19, 2014)