Wednesday, July 17, 2013


H. Pellikka
There was this kid in our neighborhood. He was a strange kid. He had pointy ears and wore shoes that curled up at the toes. Turns out, he was an elf. That was what he told us. He was regular-kid-sized, though. Not tiny like the Keebler elves who make the fudge grahams. Not tall like the elegant race of ethereal beings in "The Lord of the Rings." Nope, he just looked like a kid, except for those ears and those shoes.

He had a cool elf toy. I wanted that elf toy. It was a kaleidoscope, only you could see into other dimensions. He told us so. He never let any of us look through it. He claimed the toy was forged in elf-fire back in his elven homeland, but I saw where it said "Made in China" on it. I don't know if all elves are liars or if only he is. He's the only elf I've ever known. Still, I believed him about the other dimensions. I don't know why. I still had a lot of growing up to do, I guess.

One time he left that cool elf toy of his on the playground. His mom said, "Raymond, time for dinner!" Oh yeah, the elf-kid's name was Raymond. His mom wasn't an elf. Raymond explained that by saying he was adopted, of course.

Raymond scrambled off the swing set and ran toward his house. In his haste, he left behind the kaleidoscope. I held my breath and waited to make sure he didn't remember and come back for it. Nope, he went right on into the house and closed the door and had spaghetti, or meatloaf, or mac 'n' cheese, or whatever moms feed their adopted elf kids.

So I went over to the kaleidoscope, slowly, as if it were a sacred relic. I gulped, as if something monumental were about to happen, because it was -- I was about to look into another dimension! I wondered what sort of marvels I would see.

I picked it up with trembling hands. I closed one eye. I lifted the toy up to my eye that was open. I peered inside. But I saw no glittering rainbow waterfalls, no galloping unicorns, no castles made out of stars. I just saw handwritten words. They said, "Give me back my elf toy, you jerk."

But I didn't give it back, even though it was no visual portal to another realm. I’m not even sure that you could ever see anything cool in there, not even like what you see through a regular kaleidoscope. Maybe it always only had that defensive message in it, like maybe he knew that someday somebody would find it or try to steal it.

Sometimes I feel the urge to look in there again, just to see if maybe the message has changed, perhaps through some kind of elf miracle. It never does, and I feel bad every time. He was just a kid who wanted something that other kids wanted. But I'll never give it back. That window has closed.

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