Okay so this whole ‘new story every day’ idea was definitely a whole lot better in my head. My inner editor made writing this story particularly difficult. I’ll have to make sure to shut her in a box before this week is up. Anyway, here’s my BEDA day 2 story, “The Trouble with Gnomes.” It’s a random little thing….
My internet went out for a good hour, otherwise I would have posted this on time
The knock on my office door interrupted my thoughts.
“Excuse me, Mrs. Hamilton?”
“Yes, Emily?” My voice was short. This was the third time my secretary had called my attention and it was starting to grate on my nerves. I had just hired the girl two weeks ago. I would hate to begin the search all over again.
She seems to pick up on my mood and began to stutter in answer, “Well, it’s just… There’s another one. And well I thought you might want to know about it.”
I rolled my eyes. “Another what? We are a big business and we receive a lot of packages on a daily business. Tell me specifically what it is.” I had no time to for this. My company was about to unveil a new make up line and I was chosen to headline it. As supervisor for this project I dedicated all of my energy to it.
“Well it’s just… I, um it’s more flowers.” She finally stuttered out.
I waved my hand in dismissal. “It’s fine, just leave them out there. I’ll see them on my way out.” For a moment I thought she was going to argue and my eyes flashed in irritation. I swear the temperature in the room cooled off a few degrees from the glare I directed at her. In response, Emily simply scurried out of the room and back to her desk. I sighed in relief. Finally, some peace and quiet. I had a feeling I knew exactly what poor Emily was talking about. It started about three weeks ago- flowers began arriving at the office for me. In the beginning I thought it was my husband (our seventh wedding anniversary was coming up) but he denied it. None of the gifts had notes and when I tried to question the florist on who had bought the flowers, she told me it was specifically anonymous and she couldn’t violate customer privacy. But the flowers were beautiful and they seemed to reflect my mood on that particular day. I would never admit it aloud but the sight of the flowers put a small smile on my face. My husband is attentive, I suppose but only when it counts- you know, the big ones. Anniversaries, Valentine’s, birthday… So I can’t complain, but with our work schedules we don’t get to see each other much except on the weekends. A random gift would be lovely, but of course he doesn’t think like that. Whoever this anonymous gifter was, he had good taste in flowers.
The rest of the day was uneventful until I was preparing to close down the office. That’s when Emily once again peeked her head around my oak office door.
“Uh Mrs. Hamilton? Before you leave, I have something for you. It’s another gift, I think.”
This surprised me. In the three weeks I had been receiving flowers, I never got two gifts in one day. “Well what is it?”
From behind her back, Emily produced a small brown box wrapped with twine. It was a very vintage style of gifting. This was most definitely not flowers.
“Thank you,” I said curtly and turned away to open the gift in the privacy of my office. Emily lingered for a moment, obviously hoping to be able to see what it was.
“Won’t I see you tomorrow?” I said in an attempt to dismiss her. It worked and she replied with a small, “Yes ma’am. Have a good night,” and exited my office.
I sat back down and turned the box over in my hands. There was nothing distinctive about it. It seemed to be wrapped in a brown paper bag and the twine was barely keeping it together. Curiosity was building inside of me. What could it be?
I slowly began to tear at the paper. Disappointment emerged quickly as I realised whatever the gift was, it was concealed in a plain blue gift box. This box had a lid and as I lifted it, a thought crossed my head. “If this is a bomb then I’m just screwed. Who knows how people are hiding those things nowadays”.
It wasn’t a bomb, thank God.
It was small ceramic garden gnome. It was wearing a red hat and sported a beard that reached its toes. The gift meant nothing to me. In fact, it gave me a strange feeling as I stared at it. I even shook it to see if something was hidden inside it but there was nothing. It was a simple gnome that you could probably find at a general store. I would’ve preferred the flowers, thank you, I thought. I was slightly upset but I couldn’t understand why. What I was expecting from the package, I couldn’t tell you but it wasn’t that. I quickly decided that it was not going to stay on my desk. I threw it into my trash bin and went on with my day.
Yet the randomness of the gnome tickled the back of my mind. I unlocked and entered my house not paying attention to my which caused me to stumble and knock the coat rack over which brought my husband running.
“Hey honey you okay? I heard a noise and…”
“Oh it was just me, Johnny. I tripped over the box here-” I cut myself off as I actually looked at the box I was pointing at. It was just like the one I got this afternoon but much bigger. Now this was getting weird. I understand getting packaged at my job. It’s not hard to send gifts to a business office but my house? That’s a little far for me. Johnny, not knowing the significance of it picked it up and began turning it over, looking for a sender.
“Did you order something, Laura?”
“… Not recently, no. You know what, we can just leave it there it will be fine.” I had enough strange for today, I did not want to bring it home with me. “Let’s just eat dinner, okay?”
“Well just open it. I would like to know what it is. You know my birthday is coming up, right?”
“As is our anniversary, dear. So how do I know that you didn’t order something to surprise me?”
I tried to play it off but I couldn’t keep avoiding the package without my husband picking up on my anxiety so I just snatched the box out of his hand and began walking toward our bedroom.
“I’ll just open it after dinner. I had a long day at work and I need to relax with a glass of wine first,” I called over my shoulder.
“Whatever you want then,” the response floated up the stairs and I barely registered it. I was already focused on this second package. I quickly went into the bathroom and shut the door. I sat on the edge of the bathtub and stared at the latest gift. With this box, it would make three gifts in one day. What caused the escalation in gifts? Why did they change from flowers to objects? How did this anonymous person get my personal address? So many questions raced through my mind as I turned this box over and over.
I untied the twine slowly and carefully. This box was bigger and it rested easily on my knees. Like the first one, the gift was enclosed in a outer gift box- it was blue again. I lifted the lid with apprehension. I just stared. Inside the box was a second gnome. This one was slightly different though. Its hat was a dark blue and instead of a beard, this gnome had some serious side burns. It also carried a spade in its hand. I lifted it out of the box and saw a note card at the bottom.
‘Like my friend?’ The note read.
Okay now that’s creepy. This time I took extra care to make sure the gnome was firmly planted in the trash can. There was no way this person could know I was throwing them away… Who would want to keep a gnome anyway? I didn’t keep anything close to a garden in my backyard so what would be the purpose of it?
Dinner was a quiet affair after I told Johnny about the gifts. Neither of us understand the significance of the gnomes but I was the only one unsettled by the physical appearance of them. It was something about their beady eyes… I couldn’t quite pinpoint it, but no matter what I did not want one of them in my house. We agreed to take the original packaging to the post office the next morning in an attempt to track the sender. But not before Johnny laughed at my weird fear(his words, not mine. Fear is a strong word for what I feel).
I went to sleep finally at peace with all the random gifts I had been receiving… and that disappeared by the next morning. I woke up and my first sight of the day was of another package resting on the edge of my bed.
“Johnny! Why is there a box on our bed?” I heard no reply. “Damn, must be in the kitchen,” I grumbled as I was forced to go find my husband. I grabbed the box on my way down the stairs.
“Johnny? Why is there a box here?” I repeated my question to him. He was in the middle of making breakfast for us. “I couldn’t tell you. I went out to check the mail and it was sitting on the front porch.” He paused to taste a bite of scrambled egg he was cooking. “Let me guess, no sender?”
“Right in one,” I replied. I was reaching a peak in my frustration.
“Well it shouldn’t hurt to at least open the package.” His curiosity got the best of him.
“But it’s not for us, isn’t that a federal offence?”
“Only if they find out,” came the quick reply.
“If we return these to the post office though, they’ll know.” Why did I always have to be the voice of reason in this house?
“Or we could just reseal it and be done with it.” By now he had finished cooking breakfast and was sliding his way toward the package. I could tell he planned on opening it whether I gave the go-ahead or not.
“Fine just open it. I know you want to,” It was too early for a stupid fight. I’ll just give him the fine, then we’ll see how curious he gets in the future.
Johnny threw me a stupid smile over his shoulder at being able to win this argument. I simply rolled my eyes. He carefully opened the package and like all the others, the actual gift was within a blue box. He took the lid off and then just stared for a good minute.
“Well what is it?” I asked impatiently.
“Um, well it’s a gnome.”
“Oh my god another one? How?”
“Wait a minute.” Johnny lifted the gnome out of the box and handed it to me. “There’s a card in here,” he said. I gingerly placed the gnome down on the counter as his eyes scanned quickly over the small note card. This one was just like the first one- an exact replica, I would say.
“’Be nice this time’” he read aloud.
Another beat of silence passed. By this point our breakfast was long gone cold but neither of us cared.
“Be nice this time…?’ Johnny repeated the words as a question toward me. I guiltily looked toward the ceiling as I replied, “Well I might have thrown the other gnomes out… I just don’t like them! If only this person would have kept on sending me flowers. I would have appreciated that more.”
Johnny tilted his head slightly. “I thought you didn’t like flowers…?”
I just glared and ignored the comment. “Look let’s just go to the post office right now. There’s no way I’m keeping this.”
With the force of my glare behind my demand, Johnny didn’t argue with me. Within ten minutes we were walking into the local post office with all the packages in our arms. Thankfully there was no one except a young, bored clerk behind the desk. This way we didn’t have to wait.
“Hi excuse me,” I paused to glance at her name, “Tracy. Could you help my husband and I? We’ve received several packages but the thing is, we don’t know who is sending them so we’d like to return them, if we can.”
Tracy popped her gum a couple of times before answering. “Nope.”
When I realised she wasn’t going to say anything else, I asked her, “What do you mean? Don’t you guys track packages or something?”
“Only if the person adds it on,” Tracy replied, popping her gum several more times between words.
“Well damn,” Johnny stated. That pretty much echoed my own thoughts. By this point I didn’t want to just send the gifts back, I wanted to give him a piece of my mind as well. As we were leaving, we literally ran into Emily, my secretary, who was dropping off clients’ orders. Everything went up in the air. The gnome smacked the pavement and shattered in dozens of ceramic pieces. The packages Emily was carrying were a little dirty and smashed but otherwise unharmed. The three of us just stared at the broken gnome then back at each other. It was Emily who noticed the second note card on the ground.
“Hey Mrs. Hamilton, check this out.” I noticed she seemed a lot more confident outside of the office. I made a mental note of that.
“Oh dear God, it’s another note. What does it say?” by this point I figured things couldn’t get any worse. Or more strange for that matter.
“’This cost me $20’” Emily read with a small chuckle. “More gifts I guess?”
“Indeed so. And now apparently this person is going to be upset with us but you know what good riddance. The gnome was actually starting to creep me out a little bit.” I said with a small shudder. “Maybe it was the beady eyes or something… I don’t know.”
Emily and Johnny just stared at me and I attempted to defend myself. “Look it was just weird okay? Let’s just get these packages sent so I can get to work, finally.”
The rest of the post office trip was uneventful, thankfully. I rode with Emily back to the office and felt a sense of peace settle on my shoulders as I pushed my office door open.
“What the hell?!” My cry brought my secretary and two clients running into my office. I leaned against the wall just staring at my desk. Just chilling on my desk was another gnome. Like the last one it was just staring at me.
“Now you know what the phrase, ‘watched like a hawk’ means,” Emily said completely unsympathetically and strolled back to her own desk outside. Clearly it was fate that I keep at least one of them. I decided quickly that I was done defying them and should probably just accept it. I carefully sat down at my desk and turned the gnome to face the wall. If this person was determined to make me keep a gnome, I would keep it.
But it wouldn’t look at me.