Despite her best intentions, Marguerite Frunklin had never been in love before…
Gnome on Girl on Gnome: A Love Story
Part 2 of 2
by Regan Wolfrom
One of the nine stories from Catholic Guilt and the Joy of Hating Men. This story started off weird, and got weirder, and readers seemed to think it was too weird. So I went back and took another look, found its heart or whatever… I think I got it right this time.
Marguerite woke up to the rays of the sun, and for a moment it felt like she’d never left the glade of blue and white flowers and little brown-capped mushrooms. But she remembered what had happened, and she noticed right then that her bra and panties were still missing.
She looked over to where the orange and brown gnomes had been. No one was there.
She stood up and found her way to the Initiation Well, wondering if the gnomes were down there, but she felt silly and didn’t want to climb all the way back down. She turned and walked back towards the Chapel, wondering if she could trust what she remembered.
On her way past one of the sculpted fountains, she saw her brother Bradley and his latest date, a dark-haired girl with a long and pretty nose. Each of them had a little plastic gnome bundled in their arms.
“Hey,” Bradley said as he held up his orange-hatted gnome, “look what we found just outside the Chapel. Some jerk-off just left them in the grass.”
Marguerite froze, unable to come up with something to say.
“Are you okay?” the girl asked in passable English. “Is this your sister, Bradley?”
“Uh, Marguerite,” Bradley said, “you with us?”
“What are you going to do with those?” Marguerite asked.
Bradley shrugged. “We might throw them down the well… that’d freak out whoever’s standing at the bottom.”
Marguerite heard the chirp of a phone.
Bradley pulled his phone from the pocket and glanced at the screen. “Dammit,” he said, “I think I’ve got to run.” He turned to his date. “I can drop you back in town if you’d like.”
The girl gave a little pout. “But we just got here,” she said. “You promised you’d show me the well.”
“I can show you the well,” Marguerite said with a smile. “Bradley talks about it so much that I’m more than qualified to give you the tour.”
The girl looked her over for a moment before nodding. She gave Bradley a kiss on the cheek. “I’ll see you later?”
Bradley smiled at the girl before shooting Marguerite a quick angry look. “I’ll see you guys,” he said before turning to leave.
“Wait,” Marguerite said. “What about that garden gnome?”
Bradley tossed the orange gnome over to her, and she caught it without trouble. He stomped away, and Marguerite led the pretty long-nosed girl back to the glade of flowers and mushrooms. She wanted to make sure she repeated each step exactly.
They both nibbled on a mushroom as Marguerite started telling the story of the Templars, making it all up as she went. The girl seemed really nice, and Marguerite had a feeling that she would appreciate what was coming.
But there was still one thing left to do.
“Hold on,” Marguerite said.
“What is it?”
“Can I see your gnome?”
She held out the brown-hatted gnome with the stern and serious face. Marguerite handed the orange one over in exchange; she had no need for it.
“I like this one better,” the pretty Portuguese girl said. “He has a nice smile.”
“We all have our favorites,” Marguerite said as she held the brown gnome close to her chest. “Now let me show you the Initiation Well. It’s really like nothing else in the world.”
Marguerite started to feel her little gnome’s heart begin to beat; she knew it was real.
Marguerite woke up in the sunlight again, with the pretty Portuguese girl still sleeping beside her.
She gently squeezed the girl’s shoulder.
“I don’t even know your name,” Marguerite said.
“My name is Adelia,” she said. She started to cry.
“That was wrong. I don’t know what happened.”
“It was magic. That’s a good thing.”
“No,” Adelia said, “that’s not good. It’s wrong.”
“Fine,” Marguerite said. “Whatever.” She stood up. “If you hated it so much you don’t ever have to do it again.”
“Where are the… gnomos?”
“Probably where you and Bradley found them before.”
“The chapel,” Adelia said. “We must get them.”
She got up and started walking briskly toward the chapel.
Marguerite felt she had no choice but to follow.
They found the gnomes lying in a bed of purple and yellow flowers growing alongside the white walls of the chapel.
Adelia picked up the brown-hatted gnome and passed it to Marguerite.
“What are we going to do with them?” Marguerite asked.
“We’re going to be rid of them,” Adelia said. She picked up the other gnome.
“Let’s find a garbage can or something.”
“No… don’t be foolish. We have to destroy them.”
“Destroy them? What are you talking about?”
Adelia started walking back toward the glade of blue and white flowers, clutching her orange-hatted gnome.
She sat down on the grass, tossing the gnome down beside her. She started plucking flowers and laying them in a pile.
“What are you doing?” Marguerite asked.
Adelia didn’t answer.
“I’m going to light them on fire,” Adelia said.
She pulled out a lighter.
“You smoke?” Marguerite asked.
“I smoke… something…”
“You can’t start a fire in the middle of the garden,” Marguerite said.
“Don’t try to stop me.” She knelt down and struck the lighter.
The flame wouldn’t catch.
“We will take them to my house,” Adelia said. “And burn them.”
“No,” Marguerite said. “I won’t let you.”
“We had sex with them. That is wrong.”
“Why is it wrong?”
Adelia gave up on lighting her pile of dying flowers. “If it’s not wrong, you would want me to tell your brother?”
Marguerite’s mind filled with images of Bradley pointing and laughing, mocking her, probably creating a Facebook Fan Page for “Marguerite and the Brown Gnome: Love and Marriage in the Grotto” and inviting every last friend and relative to the non-existent nuptials. Bradley would do that. She knew he would.
And Diogo would find out. And Netuno would find out. And Rafael… well, he’d know, too, and he’d probably tell every last gamer on Xbox LIVE about it.
“Okay,” Marguerite said, “we’ll burn them. We’ll burn them and we won’t tell anyone what happened.”
She felt ashamed, but she wasn’t sure if it was the memory of her threesome, or their foursome, or of her sudden betrayal of the little plastic friends she’d only just made.
Marguerite knew that everything that came after would be mind-numbingly normal.
Adelia mellowed once they reached her back garden. She even offered Marguerite a can of Sumol Zero, which Marguerite gladly accepted despite the fact that she felt the pineapple soda tasted a little bit like deer piss.
The two plastic gnomes sat on a stone ledge, looking quite natural beside the small garden of peas and potatoes.
“I’m sorry if I am seeming rude,” Adelia said as they sat down at a small lattice table. “I am… envergonhado.”
“I don’t know what that means.”
“Oh. That I get. But I don’t think it’s fair to them.”
“To the gnomos?”
“Yeah. They’re just doing what gnomes do, I guess.”
Adelia laughed. “You sound like a girl in love with plástico.”
Marguerite laughed, too. “Maybe I am,” she said.
Adelia leaned in toward Marguerite and placed her hand on Marguerite’s knee. “Did you like it?” she asked in a whisper.
“I liked it, also,” Adelia said.
“Maybe we shouldn’t burn them.”
Adelia nodded. “Maybe we should keep them here.”
“They look like they belong,” Marguerite said.
Marguerite stood up from her chair and walked over to the gnomes. She bent over and gave both gnome foreheads a kiss.
“In love with plastic,” she said with a grin.
The next few weeks were strange and wonderful for Marguerite, and she was sure they’d felt the same for Adelia. They’d meet every few days, when they both were free from work and study, and they’d take the two little gnomes up to Adelia’s bedroom. Sometimes they found mushrooms to eat, and sometimes they didn’t; they found in time that the mushrooms weren’t needed.
Bradley complained about their new friendship, telling Marguerite that she ought to have picked an uglier girl to be her bestie.
But Marguerite didn’t listen and she just didn’t care, and she found that nothing Bradley said to embarrass her, like joking to Diogo and Netuno about her shyness, or asking the boys from the nearby high school if they’d ever wondered just what a pale-skinned ginger girl looked like down below… none of it seemed to bother her anymore.
She wasn’t embarrassed. She had no reason to be.
And after those few weeks Marguerite had started to notice that the young men of Sintra were treating her differently.
Diogo and Netuno and even Rafael… they were talking to Marguerite like she was worth talking to, and not just worth looking at. And she was talking to them, and the old urges to throw up, or curl up in a fetal position… those urges were gone.
“Would you like to go to Quinta with me?” Diogo asked her one day as they walked along the Avenue. “I would love to show it to you.”
Marguerite laughed. “Have you forgotten who my brother is? He’s an old pro at taking girls to Quinta.”
“I don’t know what that means.”
“Then I won’t ruin this for you.” She grabbed his hand and squeezed. “I’d love to go to Quinta with you.”
They kept walking, but with their hands locked together.
“Oh…” Marguerite said, “do you mean right now?”
Diogo smiled and nodded. “If you have time.”
Marguerite leaned over and gave the young man a kiss on the cheek.
He took her through the gardens for a little while to start, telling her stories about Quinta that she’d heard two months before from her brother, although when Diogo told the stories they sounded far better, even with a few mispronounced words.
They reached the glade of flowers and mushrooms.
Diogo knelt down and picked up a mushroom. “Have you tried it?” he asked.
“I have,” she said, “but I don’t feel like having any today.”
“Just eat it.” He took an oversized bite and held out the rest.
“No,” she said.
“I want to show you the pozo iniciatico,” Diogo said.
“The Initiation Well,” Marguerite said.
Diogo nodded and led her down the path.
“At the bottom of the well is the nine circle of hell,” Diogo said. “The knights would give an… oath, and they would say that they would be happier in hell than they would be to make dishonor to the Templários.”
Marguerite nodded. She was in heaven.
They walked together down the winding steps of the well, deep into the earth. Diogo was getting grabbier, moving from her hands to her thighs, to her hips, to her rear… she didn’t mind at all. It was about time someone made a big deal over her.
When they reached the marble floor and the red arrows, Diogo went in for the kiss. It was a little sloppier than she’d expected from a guy who’d seemed so smooth, but she still liked it.
“You are beautiful,” Diogo said, brushing a tuft of hair from her forehead.
“So are you,” Marguerite said.
Diogo laughed. And then he kissed her again.
“What are you doing?” a voice called out, deep and loud and frightening.
Diogo pulled back.
Marguerite stood and watched as Diogo glanced around the bottom of the well, more nervous than she’d have expected.
“It’s not funny,” Diogo said. “Who are you?”
“Marguerite…” the voice said. “Where has your beloved gone, Marguerite?”
“What beloved?” Marguerite asked.
“Do you not love another? One of my humble men?”
“This is stupid,” Diogo said. “Who are you?”
Marguerite walked over toward the dark at the edge of the well, to where the stone met the rock.
The door was open, the tunnel before them.
“I am not going in there,” Diogo said.
“You are not welcome in here,” the voice said. “Leave us, Diogo. You are a fool.”
“We should go, Marguerite,” Diogo said. “This is not funny.”
Marguerite nodded. “I want to get out of here,” she said.
She felt the hands on her legs, far too low to be from Diogo. She started kicking out, but she felt more hands come.
But she couldn’t see the hands.
“They’ve got me,” Marguerite said. “Help me, Diogo!”
Diogo laughed. “You are joking.”
The invisible hands all pulled at once, and Marguerite dropped to the floor. The hands lifted her, and she felt her body being carried towards the blackness.
As she was pulled into the tunnel, Marguerite watched Diogo as he kept talking to her as if she was standing beside him. And then she saw Diogo’s slobbery tongue making out with thin air, his hands grabbing at an ass that wasn’t there.
He couldn’t hear her.
The invisible hands kept their grip. And they brought her deeper into the tunnel.
The light disappeared and everywhere was dark; she knew the door had been closed once again.
They laid her down on the soft bed she remembered.
And then the hands let her go.
Marguerite stayed where she’d been placed for several minutes, waiting for someone to come. She hadn’t recognized the deep voice; it wasn’t from her brown-hatted gnome or from his orange-hatted friend. The voice didn’t sound like a gnome, really, not that she had too many examples to draw from.
Marguerite stood up and felt her way around the tunnel, just as she had before. And just like before, she couldn’t find a way out. She tried not to panic, to tell herself that all she had to do was go to sleep, that she’d wake up in the glade of flowers and mushrooms and then she may or may not need to buy another set of underwear.
But it felt different that time.
Marguerite waited for a while, and eventually the boredom grew to the point where she was able to lay down on the bed and fall asleep.
Marguerite awoke in darkness. There was no sun, and she couldn’t see the moon.
And there was no breeze.
And she could still feel the soft bed beneath her.
She was still in the tunnel.
She was hungry and especially thirsty; she could tell that she’d been asleep for more than a few hours.
“I want to leave,” she said.
The voice didn’t answer.
“Let me out of here!”
Marguerite wanted to sob, but she knew that wouldn’t help. It wasn’t like whatever dark power had locked her there was going to be swayed by a few years.
She walked back to the beginning of the tunnel, to where the door had once been but no longer was; she’d begun to know the gentle meanders so well in the darkness that she didn’t even need to feel around for the walls.
If the door were ever to open again… that would be her only chance. So she waited.
And waited some more.
She couldn’t tell how long she’d been there. At least a day… or maybe not. She’d never been so thirsty before, nor as hungry.
Was Bradley out looking for her? Did Diogo finally realize that he was making out with his imagination? Would Adelia know she was missing? Would Adelia even care?
Then the deep voice spoke, rumbling through the tunnels.
“Adelia…” the voice said. “Para onde foi o teu amado, Adelia?”
Light poured into the tunnel. The door was open.
She could see Adelia outside. Adelia… and Rafael.
Not Bradley or Diogo.
Marguerite tried to run to them, but the moment she took her first step she felt a hand on her ankle. And more invisible hands came, and she was unable to move.
“Help me!” she screamed.
Adelia looked over to her. “Marguerite!” she called. “What are you doing?”
“Where’s Marguerite?” Rafael asked.
“I can’t move,” Marguerite said.
Adelia took a step toward the tunnel.
“No,” Rafael said. “Wait here.”
He charged through the door.
And then he stopped, one foot locked in half of a step.
He was being pulled, Marguerite knew. The hands were trying to keep him away from her.
“Let him go,” Marguerite said. “Please.”
“Another fool,” the voice said. “You will die today, Rafael.”
“Don’t hurt him. I’ll stay with my beloved. I won’t run away.”
“And Adelia? Where has her beloved gone?”
“My beloved?” Adelia asked.
“Your gnome,” Marguerite said.
“You are asking if I love the gnome?” she asked.
“Where has your beloved gone?” the voice asked again.
“I love him,” Adelia said. “Let us go.”
“No,” Rafael said, still straining against the hands. “I love Marguerite. Eu te amo, Marguerite.”
“She is pledged to another,” the voice said. “I must protect the hearts of my humble men.”
“These women cannot live their lives in love with gnomes and no one else. They will never be happy.”
“It’s true,” Marguerite said. “I need more than plastic.”
“But I’m willing to share,” Rafael said.
“A little presumptuous, Rafael.”
“I don’t know what that means.”
“Will you pledge to love my humble men?” the voice asked.
Marguerite nodded. “I will,” she said.
“I will love my gnomo,” Adelia said. “If I can see other people.”
I felt the hands release me. I saw Rafael drop his lifted foot.
“This is a solemn vow,” the voice said. “Um voto solene.”
Rafael grabbed Marguerite’s hand and led her out of the tunnel.
The door closed behind them.
The three climbed up the stairs of the Initiation Well without a single word spoken. Rafael was still gripping Marguerite’s hand.
They reached the top as the sun was starting to set.
“I hope I did not offend you, Marguerite,” Rafael said. “I was trying to keep you safe.”
“It’s okay,” Marguerite said. “You can let go of my hand now.”
Rafael took his hand back with a blush. “I think you girls should leave the town,” he said. “We don’t know how far this… magia can reach.”
Marguerite shook her head. “We promised.”
“We did,” Adelia said. “We cannot run away.”
They made their way down the path to the chapel as the sky grew darker.
Marguerite reached out for Rafael’s hand.
She wasn’t sure what she meant by it. She certainly hoped he wasn’t really in love with her or anything.
But maybe Rafael… maybe he was worth a chance.