Ms. Eirian and the Stranger

Submitted into Contest #96 in response to: Write about someone welcoming a stranger into their home.... view prompt

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Fantasy Fiction Funny

A long, long time ago, when gods and goddesses, demons and fairies, wizards and dragons, still roamed the land, there lived a human woman in a rural village. As it is with villages, everyone knew everyone – and everyone knew this virtuous lady. This woman was the village school teacher, a position which garnered respect from the folks – even the village chief treated her like his own mother.

Nobody knew where she had come from, but that did not matter. She was kind and did not seek trouble. In fact, when the village children saw her face, deeply imbued with grey haired wisdom and gentle eyes that could not see very well, it occurred to them that this lady had seen the rise and fall of every dynasty. That is to say, she seemed like a wise sage sent from the heavens to guide them.

This woman was called Ms. Eirian. She was a sweet dear, with a seemingly everlasting supply of patience for anyone. Her kindness even reached out to animals and plants. The village chief once joked that if Ms. Eirian were to encounter a wounded lion, she would still treat its wounds – even if the cranky beast were to pounce on her afterwards. Ms. Eirian’s kindness, however, had spread far and wide – so much so that even the gods had heard about her.

Would this be a blessing, or a curse?  

***

One night, as thunder roared and lightning danced in the sky, Ms. Eirian was sitting by her fireplace reading her book. Soon, the rhythmic sound of water splashing onto her roof resonated within the house. Ms. Eirian glanced outside through her window, worried about her students. She hoped that every single one of them were inside their houses, safe, warm, and… “I hope this rain won’t distract them from their homework…” Ms. Eirian muttered to herself.

Yes, Ms. Eirian was a really dedicated teacher.

Knock, knock.

Ms. Eirian turned to look at the door – and nothing happened. Did she imagine those sounds?

Knock, knock.

There it was again. Ms. Eirian stood up and walked towards the door. She held the cold metal of the door knob and twisted it. The wooden door creaked heavily, the sound scraping her eardrums. Standing before her was a young boy, drenched to the bone.

“Oh my,” Ms. Eirian was surprised. “Quickly come in, lad,” she gestured for the boy to enter, which he did. With the warm glow of the fireplace, Ms. Eirian could see the slender face of the child, eyes as large as saucers. Drops of water dripped down from the boy’s black curls. He was wearing tattered rags that clung to his skinny frame.

“Who are you?” The stranger asked.

Ms. Eirian smiled kindly and opened her cupboards to fetch a clean towel. “I’m Ms. Eirian, the village school teacher… Who are you, kid? Where are your parents? You’re not from around here, are you?” She handed him the towel, which he used immediately.

“I’m Lor. Parents? Never got one. Been traveling to get some coins – just to live, y’know,” Lor rolled his eyes.

“I see…” Ms. Eirian felt her eyes tearing up for the unfortunate lad.

“Ms. Air On, I must say, your house is so small!” Lor began.

“It’s Ms. Eir – “Ms. Eirian was cut off by Lor.

“I don’t think any human can live in such a dingy place! My, you wouldn’t know this but – even the beggars in my hometown have mansions as big as this~” Lor gestured with his hands.

Lor took the liberty to seat himself – yes, he was still quite wet – on Ms. Eirian’s couch. Ms. Eirian just smiled and handed him a book.

“Can you read, Lor?”

“Yes, there was a man in my hometown who knew his letters. Taught me how to read, y’see.”

“Well, that’s good then. Stay here and make yourself at home. I’m going to fix us some warm soup. Poor thing, maybe you should change your clothes too. I’ll look for something, goodness, I don’t think I have clothes the right size for you though,” Ms. Eirian mumbled.

“Oh sure, I’m always good at making myself at home, Ms. Air – you won’t mind me calling you that, right? I really wondered why your parents would name you with such a silly thing… Really makes you sound strange. What soup will you be making? It had better have some carrot in it, or else I ain’t gonna eat… I hate green peas though. I also -”

“Lor,” Ms. Eirian interrupted, “Can you please be a good dear and stay quiet for a moment? I really need to concentrate. If you keep talking, I might mistake the green peas for carrots and add them to the soup. We both wouldn’t want that now, would we?”

And when Lor gazed at Ms. Eirian’s gentle, earnest eyes, he could not help but mumble his ‘yes’.

Ms. Eirian began cooking her soup, adding a little bit of this and a little bit of that, all the while enjoying the peace that elderly people find in the presence of golden silence. But that silence was broken very soon.

Thunder roared like an almighty lion. A shrill, piercing scream was heard from the living room. The living room! “Heavens, it must be Lor!” Ms. Eirian abandoned her boiling soup and rushed to living room, only to find Lor on the floor with a face as pale as sheet.

“What happened Lor?” Ms. Eirian helped him up quickly.

“Ms. Air On… t-there was thunder…” Lor cried pitifully.

“Oh dear… Don’t worry, dear, the thunder won’t harm you here. Shh… it’s no problem…”

“Ms. Air, you wouldn’t want me to suffer from everlasting trauma due to the terrible thunder, right?” Lor asked.

“Well, of course not…” Ms. Eirian had completely forgotten to remind her visitor that her name was Eirian – not Air.

“Then… will you do me a favor, Ms. Air?” Lor asked, his ink like eyes swirling with tears.

“It depends, child. What do you want?” Ms. Eirian patiently asked.

“Let me cook the soup for you. I’ll be thinking about the soup so I won’t have time to worry about thunder and whatnot.”

Ms. Eirian hesitated. “I can cook really well, promise!” Lor pleaded.

“Alright,” Ms. Eirian gave in.

Thus, Lor went to the kitchen and cooked the soup. All the while, he bombarded Ms. Eirian with questions. “Do snails yawn? Are rainbows painted in the sky? Do fishes ever suffer from diarrhea? If they do, are they polluting the rivers by doing so? Can jellyfish be made into jelly?”

Poor Ms. Eirian was starting to doubt if she was really capable of being the school teacher – and felt as if her ears were about to fall off. Lor also told Ms. Eirian he could juggle plates – something which Ms. Eirian deemed too scary to be done. However, Lor still took Ms. Eirian’s favorite China plates and showed off his acrobatic skills – it was fine at first, but Lor almost forgot to switch off the stove. In fear of burning the soup, Lor dropped the China plates he had been juggling and put out the fire. Ms. Eirian sighed and cleaned up the mess he had made.

Seeing that Lor finally finished making the soup, both of them sat down and ate. Ms. Eirian almost spit out the first spoonful of soup.

“Uhh, Lor?” She smiled weakly.

“Yes, Ms. Air?”

“How much salt did you put here?” Ms. Eirian asked hesitantly.

“Oh, all the salt I could find,” Lor replied nonchalantly. He scooped up a piece of carrot and bit it, smilingly.

“A-all the salt you could find?!” Ms. Eirian wanted to cry. He used the entire bag of salt just to season this soup?

Lor looked closely at Ms. Eirian’s expression, as if waiting for something. When Ms. Eirian calmed down, she smiled gently again. It’s okay, Lor was still a child, he probably didn’t really know how to cook but still tried to cook for her – such a sweet child. Ms. Eirian’s gaze at Lor turned even kinder than before. Seeing this, Lor frowned and gritted his teeth.

“Lor, I need to get some water in the kitchen. Just continue eating, okay?”

“Sure, sure,” Lor paid no heed to Ms. Eirian and wolfed down his soup.

Ms. Eirian drank a glass of water and her mood was lifted. “I don’t mind of the soup is too salty, Lor must’ve put in a lot of effort to cook it for us…” she muttered. Ms. Eirian decided she had to thank Lor properly, but when she arrived at the dining room…

“Lor? Lor?! Where are you?”

Lor had disappeared! Ms. Eirian was left bewildered. She opened the door and looked outside. The rain had stopped, leaving the fresh smell of earth in its wake. The boy – Lor – was nowhere to be seen. The bowl and cutlery that Lor had used sat cleanly on the shelf with no trace of being used. Only Ms. Eirian’s bowl of super salty soup was left on the table.

Confused, Ms. Eirian was left to eat the remaining soup and mull over the events that night.

***

Back in the heavens – home of the gods – Balor and Luken were sitting in the garden. “Lor, come on, pay me!” Luken urged his friend.

Balor frowned; his exquisite face crumpled up because of his annoyance.

“I can’t understand that woman at all!” Balor roared furiously. He ran his fingers through his black hair, gritting his teeth. “I broke her favorite plates! I called her name wrongly! I was rude to her! I even made the soup super salty, but she still… to think she would still look at me kindly! I can’t understand that human at all!”

Luken chuckled triumphantly. “I told you… Ms. Eirian has the patience of the gods… No, even gods couldn’t stay as patient and kind as her. Maybe she should be nicknamed the goddess of patience instead. Hohoho, how does it feel to lose, Lor? Come on, pay me… you lost the bet this time.”

Balor rolled his eyes, regretting that he had agreed to this bet in the first place. “No way, I can’t believe nothing can make that lady upset! Why don’t you try to make her mad this time, Luke? If you succeed, then – only then, I’ll pay you,” Balor said.

“Do you think I don’t know what you’re doing? Trying to run away from this debt? You dare to bet with me but you don’t want to pay when you lose? Lor, you better pay this time…”

“Ahaha…” sheepishly, Lor grinned and started running away. “I just remembered I need to visit my grandma… catch you later!” Lor ran away with his tail tucked between his legs.

“Hey!” Luken cried, “You don’t even have a grandma!”

June 03, 2021 03:49

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