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Thump. Thump. Thump.
Dan was awaken by the sound he heard coming from the closet walls.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
He cannot seem to part from his warm blanket, as he peered through it and saw the stars and moonlight from his window. It’s still night out, he thought with an air of annoyance. He was about to drift away to sleep again, when it strikes again.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
He flung his blanket away and rushed out of his bed before he had second thoughts. He opened his room door and saw no one on the other side of the wall. He’s distraught. It can’t be…
Thump. Thump. Thump.
The continuous bludgeoning sound kept coming, only this time, it really did seem like it came out of the closet. Dan squinted his eyes, thinking hard while also trying to focus his sight in the moonlit room. He crept closer to the closet door, and put his ears against it only to hear…
Thump! Thump! Thump!
He leaped away from the door, hands closed to his chest. He immediately took his flashlight from the drawer, readied himself and opened the door when he saw a small creature hammering the wall hook inside the closet. As Dan was left shocked with his discovery, so did the small creature was startled by the sudden light blinding him.
“AAAAAAAAAHHHHH!” Both of them screamed, jumping in different directions.
“Oh, sweet mother of Brounies! You scared me to death!” the dwarf-like creature exclaimed. He took off his green pointy hat, then wiped the nervous sweat from his forehead with it. Dan was quicker to compose himself, mustering his voice.
“Who are you?” he asked, “and what are you doing in my closet?”
The creature looked like it has just realized something. Putting his hat on again, he blinked profusely before pointing his gaze directly at Dan, asking, “P-pardon me, but c-can you see me?”
“Of course I can!” Dan cried out, “why else would I ask?”
It went pale.”Oh dear… oh, for the love of–why–how d-… oh. I knew that stupid Hob skipped the sand-dusting on me and my kit! Wait ’til I get my hands on that–,” it stopped muttering, sheepishly looking at Dan and said, “M-my apologies, little Sir. I’m Uri the Brownie. I meant to help fix the hook in your closet. Quietly, of course, but it appears that my friend was clumsy enough to miss an important step…”
Unquestionably dumbfounded, Dan was stuck speechless as he listened to the Brownie rambled on and on about the sand-dusting procedure that was supposed to make him invisible and silence the equipment it used, also that it was truly sorry with the inconvenience it caused him and that he promised not to take the honey until he finished the job. Dan closed his eyes and shook his head in an attempt to clear his mind, hoping he would not see or hear anything once he opened them. Still confronted with the sight of the Brownie before him, he sighed and held up his hand, saying,
“Hang on,” Dan demanded, “honey? Sand-dusting? Wh-what is this all about? Are you, err, Brownies, supposed to fix things or, umm…?”
Uri was taken aback for a bit, and then his mouth formed an “o” in epiphany. “With the gifts in the attic, I had no idea not all humans in this house are aware of our existence,” he thought out loud, “b-but, yes, little Sir, we Brownies has always been reliable aides in houses for centuries! Honey, or porridge, are sometimes given as tokens of appreciation by the owner of the house, and we are glad to take them, Sir!”
The need for sleeping has left Dan’s system as he was engaged with the new information he learnt from the little Brownie. He began to make connections; the small hole on the wall because of nails have always seem to vanish like it was polished new, the loose door knobs can always tighten itself, and the squeaky hinges that seem to lubricate themselves. He also remembered that Grandma Pippa has always made it her habit to leave a bowl of leftover porridge or honey near the attic, much to his mother’s dismay. Mum has always been harsh with superstitions, or any forms of legends and myths, in fact. Nonsense, she called them.
“The problem is,” Uri gulped, calling out Dan from his reverie, “we always work unseen by owners of the house, little Sir. And now that you have seen me, I might be in a lot of trouble should the elders found out!” He again took of his hat, and chewed on the pointy edge anxiously.
“But no one knows that I saw you, Uri,” Dan tried to calm him down, “except for you and me. I’m good at keeping secrets! Well, unless our screams earlier are heard, or that Brownies have some sort of telepathic connection or an invisible alarm that alerted everyone…”
“No, no! We haven’t any of that, little Sir,” Uri remarked, “i-it’s just that I have never heard of any brownie making deals with humans…”
Dan gave it a thought, “well, I guess that’s fair. I mean, I have never made any deals with a brownie either. Actually, I have never even met one until tonight.” He pondered, “but I promise I will never tell anyone about this. Cross my heart!”
“Oh, that’s what humans say to each other when we tell the truth, and if not, bad things will happen because we lied,” Dan explained. The Brownie gasped.
“Well, I certainly don’t wish anything bad to happen to you, Sir,” he replied, “I guess I will take your word for it.”
“Great! Let’s shake on it!” Dan held out his hand to Uri. He seemed hesitant when Dan realized it is probably another custom the Brownies are not familiar with. “We shake our hands when we seal a deal. Here, grasp my hand and we shake it up and down.”
The Brownie carefully extended its small hand and gripped Dan’s firmly as Dan led him shake them. A sigh of relief escaped Uri’s mouth.
“Oh, well, bless you for doing this, little Sir,” he said, when Dan interrupted.
“It’s Dan, by the way. It feels a little weird being called ‘Sir’.”
“I-I’ll try,” said the Brownie, “but thank you very much. I guess I really need to go now. The others would be suspicious if I didn’t go back soon. And I hope the nails attached the hook just fine. You will find no problem hanging all your coats here, little S–I mean, Dan, Sir!”
“Thanks very much, Uri,” he smiled at the Brownie, “I’ll make sure to see you get the honey you deserve.”
“Oh, not as a payment, please, Sir,” Uri whispered, “or we Brownies will be forced to find another place to live in. But as a gift, we will receive it wholeheartedly.”
Dan did not quite understand the difference, but he silently nodded and let the Brownie gather his kit, then leave his room quietly.
The next morning, Dan woke up to find his closet door ajar, and his wall hook slanted on one side. It really was just a dream, then, he thought, disappointed. Yet, as he made his way to the bathroom to get ready for school, something caught the corner of his eyes.
A green, tiny, pointy hat.
Dan would love to squirm in glee, but he promptly realized it might blow off his new friend’s little secret. So he settled with a simple smile, and hang the hat on one of the hooks. This time, he trust that the work will be undisturbed.