Thanks, Sonia, this was fun!
Friends of Stone and Clay
by Pia Newman
by Pia Newman
I wasn’t very old, as far as gargoyles went. Only about three centuries. My church was the newest and smallest in town, and I guarded it alone. The other churches were older, bigger, and sported a formidable gargoyle on every pillar and turret. I was the runt of the gargoyle community and they never let me forget.
Perching on my favorite stone outcropping above the door, I contemplated the last round of mockery that involved my ears being pulled and my tail being stepped on. Loneliness and self-pity were a heavy stone in my chest.
“You look sad,” a little voice reached my pointy ears.
I opened my eyes and found myself looking down at a little boy who was staring up at me. Children sometimes realize gargoyles aren’t just immobile stone statues. The Gargoyle Codex forbids us to reply, but right now the codex and the senile gargs who upheld it could kiss my craggy arse.
“I am sad,” I confirmed.
“Why?” he wanted to know.
“Because I’m lonely.”
“Grumpy’s lonely, too, since Happy got dead by my ball,” the boy said sheepishly. “I kicked it wrong.”
“Accidents happen,” I said, wanting to comfort him. Losing a pet could be traumatic for children. I knew because they came to church to prey for their little friends’ souls often enough.
“Is it nice up there?” the boy asked, nose crinkled in contemplation.
“Very nice. Amazing view.”
“How do you get up there?”
“I’m a great climber.”
“Can you climb down now?”
“I’d rather not. There are too many adults around who might see.”
The boy nodded as if this explanation made perfect sense. “So you come down at night?”
“Sometimes. What’s your name?” I asked.
“Benny,” he said. “What’s yours?”
I liked this kid. Too bad his mother came at just that moment and pulled him away. He waved at me until they rounded the corner and were gone. I hoped he would come by again some day.
He came sooner than expected. That same evening, in fact.
“Gothar? Can you climb down now?”
It was twilight, the streets deserted, so I scrambled down the wall beside the door.
“A gargoyle?” came a muffled remark out of Benny’s jacket. “Seriously? How’s living up in the bell tower with a moving rock going to make me feel better?”
Benny ignored the tirade and looked at me. “You want a friend? Grumpy does. She’s just shy.”
“I’m not shy you little nincompoop. Let me out.”
Benny giggled, the perfect little puppet-master. I nodded, wanting to see her. Even a grump was better than no friend at all.
Benny opened his jacket. Large blue eyes blinked at me from beneath a pointy hat that was as red as the pouty lips and ruddy cheeks. A shiny varnish covered the entire creature.
I sat back on my haunches, flabbergasted. My potential friend wasn’t a hamster or guinea pig or even a mammal at all.
She was a garden gnome.