Merry Elf

Elf was a bit taciturn.

You’re not yourself, his wife Ana said. It was what she always said. She was right, in a way.

He roused himself from his mood and said, Why don’t we take tomorrow off and do something different?

You won’t be happy if we do.

I will. I promise.

What would we do?

We have two choices.

Well?

We can go to town or to the country.

They lived in a suburban glade at the edge of a small forest of second-growth oak. They were not very well-to-do elves but they had their magic.

To town, she said. So the next day they rose early and went to town.

It seemed his wife knew him better than he knew himself, for as she predicted he wasn’t happy at the museum, though he enjoyed watching people and viewing the paintings and sculptures, and he behaved amiably. You’re thinking about work, Ana said.

No, I’m not thinking at all. I’m simply being.

A shambling young man with heavy eyebrows and an eager manner approached and said, I know you.

No, I don’t think so, Elf said. He and Ana had a timeless beauty and charisma sometimes mistaken for celebrity, and for their trip to town, they’d shape-shifted, obscuring their particularly elfish traits so as to seem pleasingly human to any observer’s eye.

Yes, you were in that movie.

You’re thinking of someone else.

You were one of those hobbits, the young man said.

Elf started to turn away but the stranger clutched his arm.

Snap! Elf cast the man into a Basquiat painting, where he stood out incongruously, a conventional figure in a flannel shirt and jeans though with a shocked expression, amid primitive, skeletal faces furiously drawn in slashes of black and yellow. Idiot, Elf groused. I was never an actor, much less a hobbit.

He was pleased with himself, but Ana hissed, Undo it! People will see.

Elf laughed. I never liked that artist. All that drugged fury passing for talent.

Elf! Ana warned.

What? He’ll pop out in a little while and never know what happened.

Behave, she said as they left the museum. I can’t take you anywhere.

You didn’t take me, he preened. I took you. Admit it. That was fun.

You promised, she said.

All right, Elf said. I’ll restrain myself. Where to?

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