I told Mom that the ex-leprechaun was a friend from college come to visit for the day, and such was her opinion of my college friends that she accepted the tale without question. The two of us spent all morning and afternoon in the woods, wading through mud puddles and peering at cardinals and mushrooms.
Perhaps it was my imagination, but I could feel a shadow trailing us just beyond the scope of my vision. It came no closer, though, and the leprechaun was safe with me.
We parted at dusk at the basement door, he on the inside, I on the outside. At the end, we were oddly formal despite a day of fun and games.
“Thank you for saving me,” I said, and on impulse I gave the dwarf my hand.
“Thank you for the day above ground,” he replied and raised my hand delicately to his lips.
From the earthworms falling out of his hair previously, I would have expected to be repelled by the gesture. But, instead, a shiver of excitement trilled through my body not much different from the one I got when I caught sight of the first returning waterthrush of the year. It was excitement, it was anticipation, it was the cusp of change.
Then the ex-leprechaun grinned at me impishly and I grinned back, already cobbling together my story for the Goodwill clerks in the morning. Because there was one part of this vacation that had gone entirely wrong. I hadn’t meant to put L’Morte D’Arthur in with the other books, I’d tell the storekeepers. It had just tumbled in there by mistake.
If worst came to worst, I supposed I could always buy the book back.
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