Wind ripples the long dried pods still hanging from the honey locust tree, and they clack together like a mammoth wooden chime. The gnome’s sharp ears pick up the low clacking; the music fills his body the way a favourite memory does.
He’s cobalt blue from his pointed hat to his pointed toes. He stands beside a sturdy stout mushroom ready to get to work, now the smoke has cleared.
The smoker comes five, even seven, times a day to this rarely-used path through the small woods at the back of the park. The largest rock welcomes her and after she blows the sweet smoke into the air, she continues to sit and stare for some time. She always sniffs and leaves tissues about. Then she heaves herself up and plods back in the same direction she came from.
The gnome knows this smoke will impair his frequency if he isn’t careful, so he waits inside the mushroom until the wind has done some preliminary work.
And that is precisely the behaviour that has confused the scavenger. The skinny shirtless man comes most evenings. He doesn’t smoke, but he collects the leavings of the sick girl. Sometimes he can’t find the gnome. Sometimes he can.
Today he says, “I know you’re a real thing and not a schizophrenic thing. I been takin’ my meds.”
The gnome is grateful for the help, but he wishes that the man would take the tissues too.