The Sprig

There are rumors spreading that the old sauna which is used as a warehouse is kind of spooky. Things that are stored in there will never be the same anymore. The pair of shoes may miss the other shoe or they both may be left feet shoes. The tip of the skies may become topsy-turvy or the binding may get lose and lost. Even an iron bar may become knotted and all texts may appear to be written in some alien language.

The sauna gnome living in the old sauna is frustrated and so dirty that it itches all the time and everywhere. Its grey coat and miter are blackened with grime; filth has stiffened its trousers as rigid as plywood. On its foot it wears crooked tipped shoes that are hardened through. Even its beard is tangled and shaggy.

The sauna gnome rummages through the warehouse seeking for something to get rid of its itching. Nothing helps. The gnome groans and hurls things all around the warehouse swearing and flinging expletives and thus, creating increasing disorder.

The woman walks in, sees the walls darkened with soot and likes what she sees. Behind shambles, she sees the old sauna as a homely lodge, as a place in which she knows she will enjoy staying. Without hesitating, she takes all debris out of the room, sweeps up, and arranges her belongings the way she likes them to be. The old sauna oven is replaced with a little wood stove and a wall cloth hangs on a wall just above the old iron bedstead. A chest of drawers adorns the window wall.

In the evening, the woman heats water on the wood stove, pours it into a washbasin on the washstand, and leaves to fetch more water from the well. When she returns, she notices that the water in the washbasin has become very black. The woman smiles aloud and replaces the water with clean water. Before going to bed, she cooks a potful of porridge and leaves it to cool down on the edge of the stove. The handle of a wooden spoon sticks out below the lid of the pot.

A clean gnome wearing dirt free clothes that are still a little damp sits on the stone step of the old sauna and eats the porridge. It strokes its tidy beard and ponders if an old sauna gnome could become a home gnome. After deliberating over it thoroughly, the gnome plucks a sprig and takes it to a vase on the chest of drawers. Then it straightens all the carpet tassels and hides inside the hole behind the wood stove and makes itself cozy.

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