This story is by Jane McGowan and was part of our 2023 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
My ears hear it before my eyes see it. The tap tap tap sound increasing to a crescendo and then letting up again. For a brief moment I think it to be my leather shoe tacks that have fallen from the shelf and scattered over the floor. I blink awake and see the rain going diagonally across the windowpane. I get still and observe the rain. Today it is a short shower with a lingering mist. Absolutely perfect conditions. But don’t start thinking that I am obsessed with rain – my obsession lies with that which comes after it – the bow . But before we get into all of that , let me tell you a little about myself.My given name is Eamon, one of the most common names of my kind, being that its meaning is “wealthy guardian” and basically describes all of us. We have that name bestowed to us as a birthright. Our nicknames are what give us our individuality. Mine is Jock – not for any athletic prowess, rather I exercise horses in my spare time at a local stable in Gallway. (Jock being short for Jockey.) I am a leprechaun. A legendary figure of Irish folklore found in rural areas of Ireland . I am a shoemaker by trade. We all are – making and repairing shoes for the fairies . It is quite a lucrative profession; every leprechaun that I know is basically rolling in dough. An ACTUAL pot of gold is something of a norm for us and it keeps us on the move . Yes, the obsession that I mentioned earlier – the bow. More specifically the END of the bow. It’s where we must place this treasure and an all consuming laborious pursuit which has no end much like the rainbow itself . Yes indeed, rainbows are actually complete circles and have no end. What makes the iconic shape we all know and love is actually the Earth’s horizon getting in the way. The “end”is where the colors hit something solid. If it was unobstructed they would continue around in a circle. Finding the precise place where the rainbow meets the ground before it disappears is a skill that is a make or break for all of us . Lose the race and lose the gold . It’s exhausting – consuming my days in the Sisyphean task of moving my fortune from place to place dictated by Mother Nature’s whim. However, having a preordained purpose can be somewhat liberating if you settle into the assignment . There are ample opportunities for entertainment and leprechauns are stereotypically mischievous. I find myself somewhere mid spectrum in that echelon. Never pernicious, but i do enjoy the occasional shenanigans. Just last week at the stable I opened every stall door at dawn so when the boys arrived to begin grooming they found all of the horses rolling and roaming freely about the pasture. The animals love me as I always bring treats at night. Occasionally one of them is my ride to rainbows end to make things expeditious . I can pretty much bank on stowing my loot within 20 minutes of the end of the rain shower. Once the sun hits the mist just right I can measure a 42 degree angle and set out on one of the pasturing horses finding the exact spot where the bow meets the turf and make a quick dig. If there is a lot of vegetation, the dig is not always necessary, and sometimes a tree knot can be used in a pinch . I have only lost one pot in my entire career and I attribute that to the consumption of entirely way to much Jamison. After that mishap I vowed to reserve all drinking until after business hours . Since there are no female leprechauns, I don’t feel the pressure to excessively preen; though I have been know to drag a horse brush through my beard from time to time if I am so inclined. I simply go from day to day shoemaking, managing my finances, drinking and riding my beloved four legged friends. Some might find this lifestyle quite simple, but seeing the world as it exists presently; I am quite satisfied with my circumstanc, or should I say – fortune .