-Who.. Who are you?…
-Marv the Dwarf is my name. Don’t be afraid, I’ll show you how to get back to the path,
he answered with his tiny, barely audible voice and his trust inducing grin grew wider.
-But… But… I must be dreaming,
I whispered bewildered. I wasn’t only whispering because the tiny creature itself seemed so fragile and quiet, my biggest fear was that my imagination is playing tricks on me again and that nobody else will see what I could so plainly see before me. I was deadly scared of being ridiculed by my older and more down-to-earth friends, who were waiting for me behind a large bush.
The gnome scratched behind his tiny ears.
-Well, if you come to think of it, this life is something similar to dreams. Sometimes it is quite difficult to tell them apart, don’t you agree?…
He looked at me from under his pointy hat and there was indisputable wisdom and depth to his gaze. I nodded shortly in agreement. Indeed it was sometimes hard to tell dreams and reality apart. Like in that precise moment, for instance.
-You know what,
he winked at me,
-if you’re into philosophical questions and you enjoy a good story, you can meet me at the three trunk hop hornbeam just below the yew forest at the next full moon. Now wipe your tears away and let us get your friends. I will lead you to the path,
and over his shoulder he added the words that immediately got me going,
-your dad is looking for you…
Fast as a mouse he climbed over the tree stump and through the bush he disappeared on the other side. No wonder we can’t see them, I remember thinking to myself, I would think it was a bird that flew in the thorny bramble, if I didn’t know better. I ran after the little man and not a second too soon, because when I got to Mija and Bine, I could hardly see his red hat in the bushes ahead, moving away quickly.
I yelled to them and because poor guys thought that a giant bear or at least a chamois on rampage was chasing me, they ran for their lives.
A minute later I already could hear dad’s sharp whistling and shortly after that the first red blaze and we were on the path again. I saw my brother running towards me and a few steps behind him, my dad followed. The little fellow disappeared without a trace.
-What are you three wondering about,
my dad was yelling to us in plural, but he was looking directly at me.
-I thought I told you to take the path to Ljubinj? What have you been doing? It is almost dark!…
-We were playing… And we got lost…
I barely uttered, fighting away the tears that were due partially to relief that we were safe and partially to humiliation, because my father was telling me off in front of my friends and my brother.
It was really getting late and maybe my dad felt a little bad for me, so he didn’t hesitate any longer and he quickly led us through the forest and down the hill to the village of Ljubinj where we went to local taverna and got our bellies filled with local cheese, home baked bread and apple juice on top of it. It was delicious.
For some time after I was entertaining the idea to say something about what had truly happened on the top of Senica hill, but I soon discarded it. You see, l was in those touchy years between childhood and on the brink of becoming a teen, but not yet there. Even for me it was harder every minute to believe what I had seen or it was maybe a vivid dream and believing in fairy tales was already pretty shameful then. So I said nothing about it. Mija and Bine bought the explanation that I just hear better than both of them, and that I started running because I heard my father whistles.
But at the next full moon I sure was there at three trunk hop hornbeam just below the yew forest…
What I’ve seen and heard there is a story for another time.