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Published by Christine Stoddard
A short story about a naive American high school girl's literally magical experience studying abroad in France. What do gnomes have to do with it? Find out. Learn more about Christine Stoddard and her creative projects at www.christinestoddard.com.
A short story about a naive American high school girl's literally magical experience studying abroad in France. What do gnomes have to do with it? Find out. Learn more about Christine Stoddard and her creative projects at www.christinestoddard.com.

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Published by: Christine Stoddard on Sep 04, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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"Gnomes"By Christine StoddardShe swayed like a cat in heat, waist and hips fluid as an arboreal stream. Frombehind, a trance seemed to grip her with the Sandman's grainy hands; from thefront, she suffered the obvious consequences of international airplane travel.Though slightly bloated and discolored, she was as beautiful as the titteringprincesses she had worshipped as a child. Perhaps five-hundred years ago, asweet-minded squire encountered her in a dream. To begin with, her dark lashesextended at least one inch beyond her heavily powdered eyelids. Her eyes shonean irresistible shade of gray that verged on gloominess but still emanated enoughliveliness to hypnotize weaker souls. Those souls might wake up if someonewhispered the fact that she wore contacts, but that event remains hypothetical.(Who would be cruel enough to destroy the spell?) Despite the smudges ofconcealer under her eyes, the gray-purple bags of jet-lag were still visible aboveher cheeks. If any of the men who wanted to touch her had the chance to do so,they would have felt the stickiness of serum in her crimped, blonde hair. It had notdried properly because, shortly after applying it, she had fallen asleep on theshoulder of somebody's grandmother during the plane ride. When she woke up tothe pilot's voice that morning, Kimberly was not sure if the puddle of goo on theold woman's sweater was saliva or stray hair product. She had touched her fulllips to find out; not a drop of spittle jiggled on top of them. Conveniently, shedeemed herself innocent.Now as she glided across the plane's carpeted floors to the front door, veloursweatpants cupped her round buns and neon green stars graced her shiny nails.It was just another stylish day. The moment that her ballet slipper-clad footstepped out of the plane, Kimberly popped in her earbuds to drown out thenoises of an airport that mocked her native language. She glanced up fromforcing the unicorn charm on her necklace to face the right way. She barely madeout the letters reading "Charles de Gaulle." The words wavered back and forthlike her stomach at take-off. She slipped through Customs with an enchantress'smile and then rolled toward the baggage claim in a trance. Somehow sheavoided falling asleep standing up as she waited for an epiphany of some kind.
"Where am I going?" she mumbled to herself, now that her full entourage of bagsencircled her. "These Frogs better--""Kimberly!" A fifteen-year old boy, gangly and red-faced, jumped up and down,waving a poster at the specimen of American processed beauty. It read, "Welcomto my countrie, American princesse." Running toward her on stork legs, he wasteenage over-enthusiasm for the opposite sex incarnate. Just imagine the Frenchversion."Hey, Pierre," Kimberly muttered as she laid her carry-on luggage on the marbledlinoleum by its larger comrades. It was pathetically small in comparison, rattlingwith a spare charm bracelet, a book on dieting techniques from across the world,three bottles of iridescent nail polish, a still-in-the-shrinkwrap pocketFrench/English dictionary, an owl keychain that no longer hooted when yousqueezed it, a monogrammed pen with a Tudor rose design, a My Little Ponynotepad, several packs of gum, old mascara, and sparkly lipgloss.The boy put his poster down and frowned a little. "My name is Luc, not Pierre.""Oh." Kimberly snapped her blueberry gum. "You sure?" She pulled out her MyLittle Pony notepad and scanned through all her scrawling. Everything from a listof planned make-over steps to the breeds of her host family's tropical fish wasthere."
I mean, yes. Of course, it is...my name.""I'm joking," Kimberly bursted, as she shut close the notepad, "I mean, I'm tired,but I wouldn't forget the name of someone who's emailed me twice a day for thepast four months. Humor. Duh.""Ah." Luc crumpled the poster a little as it swung by his knees. "I do notunderstand." The poster now sagged pitifully inward, mimicking Luc's fallenposture."Don't take yourself so seriously. You'll hate yourself in twenty years."
"No, no, I...I'm sorry."Kimberly re-opened her notepad, pretending to read over one of the lists there.Eventually she became aware that the conversation was moving nowhere. Sheclosed the notepad and waved it at her face like she was hot, even though shewas still recovering from a slight chill she'd caught on the plane. She began totalk very fast. "So, where's the toilet? And where can I get a greasy hamburger?They tried to feed me this fried oval thing stuffed with blue cheese. It was gross."Only after describing to the oval thing did she breathe."Gross? I do not know this word.""Listen, Pierre--""Luc, please.""Right. Luc. Gross means disgusting. Like, really, really bad. So bad you want tovomit. What is it--
?"They paused, staring at each other. Luc continued warping the poster until hetore about an inch into it. He blushed and hid the poster behind him immediately."I will flag a taxi," Luc announced, grinning too widely. "Then we shall--""Wait, taxis are expensive. I didn't save up for a trip to Paris to blow it all on taxirides. Why can't your parents pick us up?""They are preparing for a party.""Oh, that's cool," Kimberly chirped, "A French party my first night in France.Maybe tomorrow night I'll kiss Prince Charming at the top of the Eiffel Tower andgo waltzing in the middle of the Champs-Elys
e."Luc nodded. "Er, they are celebrating the wedding anniversary of their dearfriends."

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