Am I a terrible person?
What kind of human being would be in total control of where an adult, completely self-aware person goes and does in their daily life? Even if the intent - on the surface at least - is protection? Even if it is love? There's a strange duality to love that I have discovered; it can at the same time be a driving force to not let somebody go, hold onto them as long as you can, but yet not letting somebody go can be just as unloving, as unjust, and a reasonably intelligent person who can make their own decisions in life should be allowed the freedom to steer the course of their own life. Letting somebody do that is also love. So how could you keep somebody you love in your pocket? Of course, usually when talking about keeping somebody in your pocket, it is meant figuratively. Well, in my situation, believe it or not, it was quite literal.
It was a beautiful, sunny day when I found her. It was a perfect day, in fact, presented to me as I walked out the hotel lobby door that day as if the Allmighty had owed me a favor for something. The temperature was the perfect balance of warm and not being too warm. There were just enough white, billowy clouds roaming around in the crystal blue sky to give you a nice shade once in a while. I was in Scotland on a business trip doing research for the marketing division of my firm. Beginning in Glasgow where my hotel was, I decided to take my rental car up A82 and see a bit of the Highlands which had been recommended to me many times. The scenery was majestic and beautiful and made for a wonderful drive. It did not daunt my mood one bit when some mist obscured the sun a bit. I decided to pull off onto the side of the road when I came to a particularly wonderful looking glade, more lush and green than any landscape I had ever had the good fortune to view back in America. Misty mountains breathtakingly towered over the land at the far-off horizon. I got my camera out and left the car and decided to take some pictures. While doing that I spotted a black-striped wildcat toying with something in a patch of tall grass. When I approached it, it hissed at me, dropped whatever it had, and ran off. I was initially disappointed because I had never seen such a creature before. What I discovered next, though, was nothing compared to a foreign species of feline.
As I approached where the cat had been I heard something I at first thought was only in my imagination. It was a small voice, a very relieved-sounding, belabored voice. It was distinctly female. At first I thought it was faraway because it was so hard to hear, but I looked around and it did not appear that there was another person anywhere near me. I don't know why exactly because it would seem a ridiculous thing to do to find where a human-like voice was coming from, but I looked down at the ground.
There, amongst the blades of grass, was a tiny woman.
Ddiolch 'ch , Dybiais Buais farw! she yelled up at me, repeating what she had said several seconds ago.
I was so surprised to see a tiny woman that at first I didn't know what to do with myself. I just looked at her, my mouth hanging open, my eyes opened wide. She was only about three inches high. Not only was I looking at something that should have only existed in children's stories, not there right next to my left shoe, but this something was a very beautiful something. I bent down to bring my eyes closer to her and saw how lovely her features were, the brightness of her green eyes, the fairness of her pale skin, and the glow of her long blonde hair in the late morning sun. She wore an emerald dress that fell down to her tiny, bare feet.
"What are you?" I finally asked.
"Gwnei mo areithia 'm dafodiaith , gwna 'ch?," she replied, still speaking that strange language. Her voice was in a very strong Scottish accent, but she certainly wasn't speaking English.
"I...I don't understand!" I stuttered.
"O ach yn areithio...English?" she said, finally saying something I recognized.
I nodded slowly. As I saw her pull a tiny pink flower out of her pocket I began to wonder if I was going crazy or if somebody had slipped some type of illicit substance in my coffee at breakfast. I looked around quickly and found that everything else looked normal, no funky colors or anything.
"Gwna 'ch understand me now?" her tiny voice said, quickly bringing my attention back upon her. She was fussing with the tiny flower, putting it behind her ear.
"Yes, well, yeah, the last couple of words," I fumbled. I was still dumbfounded, almost to the point of being numb, that I was actually conversing with a three-inch-high woman.
"Thank ya for savin' me," she said, looking up at me and smiling. A tingle, that began at the tip of my nose and radiated outward, washed over my entire body when she smiled, revealing a perfect, tiny little set of teeth when she did so. I smiled back quite involuntarily.
"I...I didn't know...you're welcome," I stuttered in reply. "Do...do those things always try to eat you?"
"All too often, sir," she said. "I thought I was dead that time. I owe ya a great debt."
Many thoughts began to swirl around in my head, a storm which quickly became a mental tornado. Tiny, beautiful woman...Scotland...wildcats...a debt she says?...tiny, beautiful woman...well, I haven't dated a woman since Catherine, that ended badly...I've been lonely...no, I must be crazy, there aren't tiny people...doe she live in a mushroom?...
"Sir?" she asked, looking at me thoughtfully.
"I..." was all I could manage as the thought-storm raged on.
"I know, ya've never seen anythin' like me before, have ya?" she said. "Not many of your kind have, I'm afraid," she added darkly. After looking down a second, she brightened back up. "My name is Lorien. What's yours?"
"I...my name is...Jack," I replied, trying to disperse my tornado. "Um, Jack Sutherland."
"Aye, Sutherland's a Scottish name," she replied happily. "But ya certainly don't sound Scottish."
"I'm from America," I said numbly. "Uhh, St. Louis; I've lived there pretty much all of my life."
"Oh!" she said excitedly. "I've heard of this distant land...America! Is this, um, St. Louis a city there?"
"Yes," I replied. "St. Louis is in the state of Missouri."
She continued to ask me questions about America, her curiosity burning like a lively fire, like are there mountains there, fields?, what do we eat there?, how many people are there?, with me numbly answering them the best that I could.
"I apologize," she said at one point, "ya're still a bit frazzled by the sight of me, aren't ya? And here I am bombardin' ya with all these questions...er, where are ya goin'? Are ya headed back to your country soon?"
"In about four days," I replied.
"This may seem rude, but," she said slowly, "I may never get this opportunity again. Could I...come with ya? I wish to see America."
I blinked. Take her with me? What would I do with a tiny woman? Put her in my bag...in my pocket? I looked down at my shirt pocket. It looked large enough to fit her comfortably and I could reasonably hide her. I immediately began to imagine all kinds of scenarios where she was discovered and taken away and experimented on or situations where I end up at a mental institution.
"I'm sorry," she said soberly, looking down. "I should not have asked ya."
"No," I said quickly. Suddenly, I wanted nothing more than to take her with me. She was beautiful, though tiny. She seemed interested in me. Maybe she could do magic! And she would fit perfectly in my pocket. "I would love to take you with me!"
Lorien brightened up and gasped in delight. "Really?!" she said as if she was a child and somebody had just offered to give her the whole candy store. "Oh my! Oh just let me get a few things! Stay put!"
She trotted away into some thicker grass, every few steps looking back towards me and smiling, presumably to make sure I was still there. Then she vanished into the grass for a few long moments. When she returned she had a bag hung over her shoulder that looked like it was made from a large leaf of some kind.
"I'm ready, Jack!" she said excitedly, looking up at me and grinning from ear to ear.
"Um," I said, hesitating, "how should I...I mean, should I just...?" I was putting my hand down by her, wondering if she wanted to be picked up. I wondered what would happen if I did, if I would get shocked with some kind of magic or something.
"Sure, pick me up, it's all right!" she said. "You know, you people walk quite a bit faster than mine. I'd have a hard time keepin' up! Your shirt pocket looks like a nice comfortable place to ride."
I nodded heartily. She was thinking the same thing I was. Slowly I wrapped my hand around her little figure. When I gently grabbed her it felt like I was gripping a little doll...one that was warm and soft and alive, that is. That's when the feeling first hit me, a feeling of vast excitement, a feeling that I had never felt before that, at the time, I could not put my finger on what exactly it was. Only in retrospect - now - do I realize what that feeling was.
Total and complete dominance.
The rest of the trip felt very surreal. I had a tiny woman in my shirt pocket, after all. It was very strange to feel her moving around in it. I once had a small kitten in my shirt pocket, one that my ex-fiancée had picked up from a friend's house. But this was still much different. It was a little human being (everything else about her seemed perfectly human, except her size). She stretched, she rolled around, and didn't have sharp claws (thankfully).
The plane ride home was difficult. Lorien wanted to look out the window badly. Fortunately I had a window seat, but it was hard to conceal her while she looked out in utter and pure amazement at the land and sea below. I cannot imagine what a tiny person like her thought of it. I thought back to my first plane ride and how tiny it made me feel.
I began to grow quite used to her - and fond of her - the first days back in the States. We talked almost constantly. She was amazed by America, blown away when we arrived in New York City and when we landed in St. Louis. She had literally thousands of questions and I tried to answer them all for her. I tried to keep a low voice when speaking to her, mumbling, whispering, holding my hand over my mouth quite a bit, but I still fear that many people might have thought me a bit crazy anyway, talking to myself so much. At work I had my own private office so she was free to roam about on my desk and on the floor (nobody came in without knocking, usually, and even when somebody did barge in she's so small that it wasn't difficult for her to quickly hide). She always kept near, though, if she wanted to talk. If she was any distance away it was impossible to hear her tiny voice.
But everywhere I went, besides my studio apartment and my office, I kept her in my shirt pocket.
One day while eating lunch at Forest Park, I heard her sigh. It was a sad-sounding sigh, the first time since I'd found her that she'd ever shown any emotion but joy and curiosity. I looked down in my pocket. She was sitting in there, her knees drawn up near her face, her arms wrapped around her legs. She stared blankly ahead at the side of the pocket.
"What is it, Lorien, dear?" I mumbled, moving my lips as little as possible.
"I'm not sure," she said. She shook her head. "'Tis probably nuthin', Jack. Maybe I'm just tired. The bed you've made for me with your bath towel is nice, but, maybe it's not quite as comfie as my bed at...home."
I reached my finger down and patted her head gently. She was feeling homesick. I began to fear what it would be like to ever part with her, bring her back to Scotland. It was in that moment that I realized that I loved her. I loved her dearly. Even though she'd only been a resident of my shirt pockets a month I found it difficult to imagine my life without her. I selfishly decided right then and there that she was never returning home, that her home was with me now. She sighed again and looked up at me.
"I love you, Lorien," I whispered. This made her smile, immediately melting away any sadness she had been feeling.
She removed the flower from her ear. "Cara 'ch , hefyd," she replied. I smiled. I still knew what she said.
"Want some of my sandwich?" I asked her. I ripped a small piece of my sandwich off, making sure that I got a bit of meat, lettuce, cheese, and tomato - I had gotten quite good at that - and handed it to her. I chuckled. My tiny piece was a big as a poor boy to her.
"Thanks, oo, I love turkey!" she exclaimed as she chewed on her first bite.
"Your flower," I said as she continued ravishing the sandwich, "I guess it's a sort of a translator. Does it work by magic? Are your people magical?"
She thoughtfully chewed, then swallowed her latest bite before she replied. "I'm not sure what you mean. What do ya mean by magic?"
"Well, how the flower works, is it...I dunno... supernatural?"
She shrugged. "Supernatural? I'm afraid I don't understand, Jack. The flower works like it naturally does, like it always has. There's nuthin' super about it, least not to me. Don't you folk have translatin' flowers?"
"No," I said, shaking my head.
"That's ashame," she said, frowning. "How d'ya know what people from other lands are sayin'?"
I explained to her that most people knew how to speak English and it was rarely a problem. I also explained my concept of magic. Apparently they didn't have a word for magic. The supernatural, to them, was nothing out of the ordinary. That's when I became the one asking all the questions and her being the question answerer. Through many conversations over the next several days I found out that her species was ancient and she was not aware of any of her people living anywhere but the Scotland Highlands. They're rarely seen by us "Giants" because they're so small and usually they hide when we come near. They called themselves "Y Bywiol," which in English meant "The Living." They could talk to animals, which was very useful since most of them were large enough to eat them.
I tried to have her talk to a dog once at the park but the mutt only barked at her, scaring her half out of her skin. The owner of the dog looked at me suspiciously so I quickly retreated away. I had more luck with a squirrel that I approached while it was in a tree chewing on a nut. It barked before running up to the top of it.
"What did he say?" I asked Lorien.
"He said 'Go away!'" she replied.
I frowned and shrugged. So far the whole talking to animals thing wasn't turning out to be very exciting.
As the weeks wore on she became distant and a bit aloof. The more questions I asked the more she responded with short one or two word mumbled responses. I knew that her homesickness must have been worsening. It hurt me to see her hurt, it burned in the pit of my stomach every time she sighed and looked down at her feet or cradled herself with her arms. I tried to cheer her up. I bought her a really nice dollhouse and pretty doll clothing, gave her pieces of the finest, most expensive turkey sandwiches I could find, I even would kiss the top of her head. Even though I did all those things and reminded her often verbally of how much I cared for her, adored her, she grew more and more depressed.
Finally one day about three months after I'd brought her to America, we had the conversation I'd most feared.
As I was strolling out of the supermarket with a bag full of groceries in one hand, I heard her sob. I felt like somebody just stabbed me in the heart with a needle when I heard that. I looked down into my shirt pocket at her. She was wiping her eyes. "What's wrong?" I asked.
"I'm captive," she said.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"I think you know that word," she said sharply. "I sit here in your shirt pocket, or...or in that little house you bought me...like some...like a plaything. You pretty much own me, don't you? Even if I asked you to take me back home, you wouldn't, would you?"
"Of course I would," I lied.
"You're lying!" she exclaimed. "You want to keep me forever, don't you?"
"I love you!" I said, a bit more loudly than I'd intended. I some stares from people on their way into the market. After that I quickly made my way to my car and got inside.
"If you love me, then please take me back home," she squeaked. "I miss them, Jack. Father, Mother, Elnon my brother. At first this place, when it was so new, it was so wonderful, I'd never seen anythin' like it. Now it scares me. I feel lost in this...metropolis as you've called it. I guess you don't realize how huge it is to me! Even you think it's huge."
"You'll get used to it," I said. "When I was seven we moved to a different part of town and I had to get used to a whole new school and friends..."
Lorien looked up at me with wet, pathetic eyes. "That's different, a lot different, and you know it! But the main point is that you won't let me go back home...it's that you won't let me go anywhere. I'm not free now! I liked it, at first, being at your mercy, lettin' you show me your world, but now...I feel like one of those animals in those cages at that zoo you showed me. This pocket is my cage!"
Then she tried to scramble out of my pocket. I grabbed her and prevented her from doing so. "No, you'll get hurt, you could get under the seat, or..."
"See what I mean!" she said as I trailed off. She wiggled around inside my hand.
"I'm protecting you!" I said as I put her back in.
"Malarky!" she spat. She began punching my chest. It actually stung a little. "That's not it. You may even be foolin' yourself, but you're not foolin' me!"
I grabbed her again and held her close to my face. Her tiny tears dripped onto my hand. "It would break my heart if I couldn't see you anymore. I love you, Lorien."
"Then let me go!" she pleaded. "Let me go, Jack, take me back home if you care for me. Please, I beg you."
"But I love you so much that I can't let you go!"
She collapsed into a fit of sobs, went limp in my hand. I kissed the top of her head but she continued to weep. I couldn't bear to see her like that. But I also couldn't bear not to see her at all. My soul was torn in two.
"How can you love me when I'm not a giant, like you?" she asked in a very tiny voice between sobs. "We've seen each other without clothing, but how can it get any more physical than that? Why keep me, unless it's true, unless I'm some plaything to you?"
"You're not a plaything and I love you and I don't care if you're three inches or three hundred feet tall!" I said, getting upset. How could she think I was so shallow? "We're going home, I've bought perishables!"
With that, I put her back in my pocket, started the car, and left. I felt her continue to sob as I drove back to my apartment.
The next day she barely spoke to me. She thanked me when I fed her, but that was it. She just sat in my pocket, moping. I began to feel a sense of dread. I was beginning to realize that it wasn't just a phase, or a bump in our relationship. We wouldn't be getting past it. She was going to try to do something? But what could she do? Escape? Even if she did a stray cat or a large rat would make a tasty meal out of her. Or she'd get stepped on, or run over by a car, and she knew all that. So what was she going to do?
That night, as I usually did, I gently placed her next to the bath towel bed I'd made for her next to my own bed. She took off her dress, got into her leaf bag, and slipped on her nightgown. When I told her goodnight she only mumbled something I couldn't hear. I sighed and slipped into bed. My fear that she was about to do something irrational kept my sleep light that night.
And I'm glad it did.
I awoke around two a.m. to the sound of my bottle of aspirin falling off my nightstand and onto the floor. I shot up and my heart began racing. I fumbled around in the dark until I found my bed lamp. I turned it on. There Lorien stood on my nightstand, trembling, holding an aspirin tablet in her hands. She had eaten some of it!
"WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!" I screamed. "That's a drug! How much did you eat. That can hurt you!"
"That was the point," she said. Then she added in a low voice I almost couldn't hear "I can't live like this anymore!"
"No!" I yelled. She dropped the tablet. She began to sway. I held my hand out and caught her before she fell. "Lorien!" I exclaimed as I brought her close to my face. Her eyelids began to flutter. "Oh god no!"
During the late-night flight to Scotland I checked her every five seconds. She was definitely ill, but yet she clung to life. I tried putting little droplets of water into her mouth as often as I could. I had shook so much while booking the flight online that I could barely hit the right keys. I got the earliest flight I could and I only had thirty minutes to grab a bag together and haul ass to the airport.
"Lorien, oh Lorien," I wailed quietly. The old woman in the seat next to me glanced at me. At that point, though, I didn't care who heard me talk to her. I didn't even care if they saw her. All I wanted was for her to be better. I wanted to see her smile again.
It was a rainy, misty afternoon in Scotland when we touched down. As quickly as I could I rented a car and headed to where I'd found her. My gut wrenched as I passed lush green glade after lush green glade. Which one was it?! I tried to arouse Lorien but all she did was mumble something in her language. I didn't know where her special flower had gotten to.
"It's this one!" I yelled, stopping and pulling off the road. It had that same mountain in the background that I'd seen before, it had to be it!
I stepped gingerly into the grass, hoping that I wouldn't step on any of her friends if they were there. I took her out of my pocket. "Lorien, you're home now. Please wake up. Maybe your magic will heal you. Please, Lorien..."
I heard the small noise of some grass parting near me. I looked down. There, dressed in a brown tunic, was a little man holding a little spear, about as tall as Lorien was. He looked at me, then at her.
"Lorien!" he exclaimed. He began to rant and rave in his language and banged his spear into the ground. Then he pointed it at me and barked orders. I didn't know exactly what he was saying but I could take a good guess at it. I knelt down. I didn't know what I should do with her, though. Just set her on the ground?
When I hesitated he put a pink flower in his ear. "What have you done to her, Giant?!" he yelled at me.
I nervously explained to him what had happened, her coming back to America with me, getting upset, taking the drug, stuttering quite a bit as I did so. Others began to creep out of the grass.
"...so I never meant for her to be hurt!" I finished pleadingly.
"We can heal her!" the man yelled. "Put my sister down!"
When I did Elnon and a few of the other tiny men that had crept out of the grass ran and grabbed her. One ripped open her nightgown and began to rub something on her bare chest. Within a moment she began coughing. Tears of happiness began to leak from my eyes.
"This is what happens when our people mix!" Elnon said as Lorien began moaning something in their language. He shook the spear at me. "I hope she, nor any of us for that matter, ever see you again, Jack Sutherland!" He said my name as if it tasted bitter in his mouth. Then he spit on my knee.
"I'm terribly sorry," I said.
"She wishes to say something to him!" said one of the others. He took the flower from his ear and put it in Lorien's. She sat up and looked at me.
"After she's done," Elnon said, "get out of here! Since you initially saved her life we'll spare yours!"
Spare my life? I looked around at all the tiny men and women that had gathered around. Could they somehow gang up and kill me? Those spears did look pretty sharp...
"Jack," Lorien said weakly, brining my attention back to her, "I'm sorry things had to come to this. I either wanted to go home or die. Please understand. It was wonderful being with you but this is where I belong." Then she took the flower out of her ear, and added: "Ewyllysia beunydd cara 'ch.".
"I will always love you, too," I said. Then, before I got attacked by tiny sharp weapons, I got up and left.
About a year later I got an unusual envelope in the mail. My heart fluttered when I saw the international postage. It was from Scotland! I ran to my desk, got a letter opener, and tore it open. At first I thought there was nothing in it, but when I looked closer I saw that there was a tiny pink flower in it. I carefully picked it out.
"Lorien," I whispered to myself. And then, I don't know if I imagined it, or if it was by virtue of their magic, I heard Lorien's voice whisper my name. Chills danced down my spine. I smiled, opened my shirt pocket, and placed the flower inside.