• Norma Hughes


After my long pilgrimage through the wastelands of dust I finally came across a small house. There was not much else around, and I decided to stay the night, for it looked quite homey and my aching back and legs longed for a comfortable bed to rest on. While I stayed here, for it was so comfortable I stayed at least a week, the most curious thing happened. I carry many containers and boxes with me in my travels to store various books, coins and knickknacks, and every night it seemed that the lids of those containers would disappear.

I wondered if they were simply being absorbed by the cupboards, or that a small civilisation lived beneath the floorboards of my room and had to sacrifice lids to an insatiable deity. All this I wondered until a night not long since passed. I awoke suddenly from an indiscernible dream to the sound of click-clacking outside my door. Ah, I thought at first, their deity has come for me at last. Eager to confront the beast I slipped into my guest slippers and shuffled towards my bedroom door which had been left partially open, allowing a thin sliver of light into the room. This stirred some worry in my chest, for I was certain I had closed the door before I had gone to sleep. I peered through the open doorway and into the hall and saw, not a deity, but a little stick like figure dragging one of my lids behind it.

Naturally, I felt compelled to follow the little fellow. Once it had turned the corner, I made my move, carefully tip-toeing around the creaky floorboards. The little figure dragged the lid all the way down the hall, and over the lip of the dog door. Popping my head through the dog door, I watched it wriggle under the house till it disappeared into the shadows. Carefully, I opened the door and walked out into the moonlit garden, and all the shapes and objects of the yard once formerly known to me during the day, could have been anything beneath the veil of darkness. I had lost the creature in the gloom of the underhouse, save for a faint light that winked not far ahead. Naturally, I crawled towards it, and as I crawled, I could not help but wonder whether the little house was truly this long and wide. Were it not for the damp earth beneath me, I would think I was suspended in an ocean of darkness. As I drew closer, and the light ahead grew stronger, other small flickers of lights winked into view alongside it. Some were stationary while others swayed or flickered like fireflies.

I could now see the little figure, not for the intensity of the light, but for its absence, as its little body moved back and forth across the lights, causing them to wink out of view ever so briefly. Closer still I crawled till the source of the light became apparent to me. They were a collection of the most unique flowers and plants I’d ever seen. Large flower heads like sunflowers with luminescent leaves and drooping snowbells that glowed as if a fire resided within their bulbous heads. A miniature pine tree with twinkling pinecones shimmered within a large container, onto which the little figure was attempting to affix my lid. The creature sprayed a few puffs of a purple liquid from one of my lost perfume bottles, and quickly shut the lid. Instantly an iridescent, purple condensation formed inside the container and dripped onto the pine below. A flow of light coursed through the plant’s fragile stems, deep into the roots, bright enough that they could be seen through the soil. The tiny pine cones opened into opulent, multilayered flowers, the petals of which swayed slightly as if moving in a gentle breeze. The little creature stood back from its work, staring lovingly at its beautiful menagerie of plants.

As quietly as I had come in, I crawled back towards the entrance to the underhouse, leaving the little fellow to his creations. I haven’t seen the figure or it’s strange plants since. While hanging out the wash I tried peeking beneath the house, unable to see anything but the other side of the house. I did, however, leave a small lid from an old jewellery box on the veranda one night, and woke to find it missing the next morning. Hopefully the creature was able to put it to good use.

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