The gnome of the retirement home

The tales of lock-down (2)

If you haven’t read the previous ones, go and find them in the category « The tales of lock-down ».


Georges was looking at the garden through the window of the lounge when he saw movement outside. It wasn’t a squirrel, it didn’t have the fluffy tail, and it wasn’t a bird.
Georges, being a curious man and needing some fresh air – why do they have to turn the heating on so high? – made his way to one of the doors leading to the garden.
On his way, he came across Beth, the kind nurse – not like some…

“You’re going out, mister Dubois?”

“Yes, it’s too hot here, and I need a change of scenery, if you see what I mean.”

“Yes, I see exactly what you mean!” replied Beth laughingly.

Mister Dubois might need more help than he would have being able to get at home, he was part of those seniors who were bored in retirement homes. The [personnel] did what they could to find activities and entertainments, but between the fact that they needed to find something that suited everyone and the lack of means – both financial and [human?] – the offers were limited.

Beth called after him:
“You should put a coat on, it’s cold and the difference in temperatures won’t be good for you.”

Georges waved her advice off.
“I won’t be long, I just want to look at something closer.”

And on those words, he went outside.

He didn’t need to go around the building and back in front of the main room since the strange animal had come to him, which he appreciated considering he didn’t want to make a show out of himself, nor spend too long outside. Beth was right, it was freezing.

The animal was perched on a branch. Georges wouldn’t have been able to tell what tree it was, just that it didn’t grow high enough to make some shade. The flowers, however, were pretty and brightened the garden in the Spring.

“What are you?” Said Georges, slowly moving closer.

The animal didn’t move.

“What? I’m loosing my mind!”

Georges had in front of him what seemed to be a gnome: a small humanoid of around 15 centimetres (around 6 inches) high , dressed in browns and dark greens. He would have been well camouflaged if it hadn’t been for his bright green pointed hat, that contrasted against the dark leaves.

The little creature spoke loud enough that Georges – slightly hard of hearing – heard him, strangely.

“Hello mister Dubois! I am very happy that you saw me! I am Tom, the gnome of the retirement home.”

“I’m sure I’m loosing my marbles, but at least it’s entertaining. Alright, Tom, I’ll pretend I believe you are real. And call me Georges!”

Tom told him he’d been living here for 70 years. He He moved here because he had wanted to bring some joy to people here, who seemed very lonely. He was still single but was hoping to meet a gnome with whom getting married and having twins – like in every gnomish family. It wasn’t very varied, but at least one can prepare for it. This said, nowadays, with how humans mess with nature, it could change.

Georges came back inside eventually, half-convinced he was loosing his mind and half- happy to have met a new friend. Tom was very learned and had a lot of stories to tell, which foreshadowed long and interesting conversations.
He thought about telling Pierre, his grandson, when they’ll call each other on video – Pierre had gifted him a smartphone to allow themselves to talk and see each other during the pandemic – but he thought he might worry him.
Or maybe not. Georges had always been the family’s eccentric. He could always pretend he had started to write to pass the time.
Actually, he might just do that. Writing that story would be entertaining for him, and maybe for others.
He was going to have to ask Pierre for a notebook and a pen.

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