There was once a girl who loved to read. One day she decided she wanted to write. She wrote and wrote and wrote and poured her soul out. She was so proud of her three hundred pages, but then she began to squint at it and analyze it and pick it apart, like she never had done to any book. She got angry and ripped up and threw away those years of work. She didn’t regret it much at first, but as the years passed it grew worse until she was a young woman. She still loved to read and write but she struggled to recreate what she had lost.
One day as she sat at her desk stumped with papers strewn about her, she heard a voice. As she looked up she saw perched on her lamp a tiny gremlin no taller than her pinkie finger. What he said was “Looking for these?” and what appeared in his tiny hand made her gasp. It was her notebook all those years later intact turned to page three hundred. She reached out but it vanished.
She glared at the tiny apparition wondering if she had finally lost it, and she said. “What must I do?”
The gremlin tapped his pointy chin with one spindly finger and then smiled, “You must do whatever I ask for ten years time.” He extended a tiny hand and she extended the tip of her finger and as they touched there was a burst of light, he said, “Done,” and vanished.
Months passed and the young woman began to forget. Then one day she heard that funny little voice again and there he was perched on her bookshelf, “I have your first task…”
The young woman did all that she was asked from menial chores to additions to his caves. She fought a dragon and treated with centaurs. She sewed fabulous gowns for royalty and helped cut a giant pumpkin. She traveled to lands far and wide that she never knew existed learning to sword fight with a prince and swimming the depths of the sea with mermaids. All these tasks set before her she completed to then return to her normal life. As the end drew near she had lived maybe twenty years within those ten and she was tired. She was not sure exactly when it would come.
Then there he was on her lamp one day, she looked up expectantly. He shook a finger, “Not yet, dearest.” He pulled out a diagram of a volcano and suddenly she laughed. As exhausted as she was she roared with laughter. “What?”
“No.” She laughed again and stared at him. “I am done with you.”
“But you are so close to your reward.” He jumped down to the desk. “Would you really give up now?”
She scrunched up her face, “Tell me sir, in all your power can you turn back what we have done?”
The confused gremlin paced a bit. “No, I am sorry. I cannot give you the time back.”
The not so young woman laughed. “Don’t be sorry. I couldn’t be happier. You’ve given me so much more.”
She hunched over a fresh pad of paper and began to write. The gremlin walked over to the paper reading the rapidly appearing lines. He pulled out her old notebook and looked at the childish scribble next to the tale he had helped create. He chuckled, “I never expected that ending,” and vanished leaving her to record their many adventures.
Unexpected Inspiration by Stephanie Jobe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
A little context if you’re curious: A very memorable moment in my writing life so far was the destruction of my largest project. I was in the 8th grade. I had spent years working on this one project Immortal Magic, which was the story of a vampire named Katana Berowe. It was over 300 pages and I ripped it to shreds, soaked it in water and buried it in the back yard (I was a bit melodramatic about it). I loved it as ridiculous as it was. I still think about it when I write anything but for years I tried to rewrite it. I have in my computer files at least 9 attempts to start it over and I’m sure there are hand written versions stashed somewhere. Then in college I took a creative writing course and I use this as inspiration for a short story that I will admit is a bit silly but it got me over trying to recapture something that was probably terrible to begin with. That story is titled “Unexpected Inspiration” (I hate titling things) but I affectionately refer to it as “300 Pages” and thus a domain name was born.