I knocked on the Boy’s bedroom door one summer morning when he was twenty-one and as there was no reply I entered the dark pit of ripe smells and found the above mythical, weighty personage in the middle of the floor. He was sitting in a pile of dirty clothes, concrete-heavy and out of place. He hadn’t been there the day before and I wondered if he would fall through the creaky old floorboards into the room downstairs. But where had he come from? How had he arrived? Who was he?
When I eventually bailed up the Boy he told me that he and his Bestie had taken him from outside a local pub; with the strength of many beers they’d managed to kidnap him into the car and get him indoors into our house without being seen. Then they silently pushed his dead weight upstairs with their superhuman, alcohol-fuelled strength; they’d immediately gone to sleep in a midsummer nights dream sort of way.
He was moved to a corner of the room beside the desk and there he sat for some time observing all the young mans’ rites that went on in that space. The room got dingier, darker, impossible to clean, beer stains on the carpet, reeking of cigarette smoke: it could have been the 1970’s.
The Boy graduated from University and went to Australia. I was heartbroken, behaving badly and the gnome became weirdly comforting. I would go and sit beside him sometimes and remind myself that humans are transient whereas concrete gnomes are forever.
Eventually, it was time to clear out the Boy’s room, repaint, recarpet, reinvent the room that had been mine when I was a child. The gnome could not return to the pub, and on thinking where he would be happy I decided where he would go. I organized a lunch party, it was summer again, the Bestie came and we took the gnome downstairs and put him out on the lawn where we put garlands of garden flowers on him. He looked godlike.
The Bestie then found his strength again and took him down to the river that runs at the bottom of our garden. He was gently placed in the water facing upstream and the flowers floated off down; and there he sat, a little water gnome, for a number of years.
A few years ago the river went wild and flooded the town and some houses which was when the Environment Agency became involved. They cleared out a great deal of rubble and silt from this part of the river with huge machines; and they gently lifted the gnome onto the bank beside the back wall to our garden where he still sits observing the flow.