Maggie hastily jotted down the rest of the sentence in her little black notebook. She had found her groove, and the words had just been flowing today. The girl could barely get them written down fast enough. It was closing in on dinner time, though, and she still had to make the walk back home. She glanced over the page and nodded before closing the book and stuffing the pen into her pocket. She took out her phone and put in her headphones before pushing play. “The Rocky Road to Dublin” by The Dropkick Murphys kicked in the headphones as she stood up and headed out of the woods towards the trail.
She had been enjoying listening to Irish playlists as she walked to and from her writing bench in the park. On Monday, she learned of the St. Patrick’s Day writing contest from Mrs. Dell, her English teacher, and had worked on it every afternoon on the way home since. She enjoyed writing but hadn’t ever shown her work to anyone besides her teachers. This contest would be a somewhat anonymous way to get her writing out there with little risk. Plus, the winner of the contest would get $20,000. Maggie didn’t think she was necessarily going to win, but she would be taking a big step with her writing either way.
The whole process of walking, listening to music, and writing after school was therapeutic. Maggie had felt more positive this week and was even waking up feeling more energized. “Whiskey, You’re the Devil” by The Clancy Brothers started to play as Maggie hit an incline on the trail.
EEEEEE “Leave me be ye beast!” cried a voice in the distance.
Maggie pulled out her left earbud as she slowed her pace.
A loud rustling and something like a growling were coming from deeper in the woods to the right. Maggie reached up and quickly pulled out the other earbud, letting it drop down to her shoulder. There was lots of movement back and forth, and it seemed to be getting closer. Maggie froze and tried to pinpoint where the sound was coming from.
GRRRR BARK BARK Suddenly, a blur of green came charging out of the bushes and ran right into Maggie’s leg.
“Help, it’s coming, it’s coming!” cried a little man as he scrambled up Maggie’s leg. It took her a moment to understand the man’s accent.
“What is…what’s happening? A large black dog burst through the bushes where the little man had come through. It growled, baring its teeth. The small man was now in Maggie’s arms and pointing at the snarling creature.
“Oh no, run girl!” the little man pleaded. Maggie looked from the frantic man to the dog and tried to assess her next move. She jumped back from the dog just as it lunged forward, snapping its jaws. Before Maggie could regain her footing, the dog pounced again. As it did, Maggie shoved the little black notebook in her hand hard into the dog’s open mouth. The dog immediately chomped down on the book and began to struggle with it. The book seemed to be stuck and occupying the dog’s mouth for the moment.
“My story!” cried Maggie. She reached towards the flailing animal.
“Please run, girl!” yelled the little man. Maggie took one last glance at the dog struggling with the notebook before running away with the man still clutched in her arm. After a minute, they came up alongside the park fence. They could still hear the dog hacking on the notebook and trying to bark somewhere behind them.
“Here, grab on. We’ll be safe on the other side,” said Maggie as she leaned towards the fence. The little man lept the short distance from her arm to the fence before climbing over.
“Good idea,” he said as he landed on the ground on the other side. Maggie quickly climbed up over the fence and landed beside him.
“You okay?” asked Maggie, briefly glancing to the man from back down the trail. They both watched to see if the creature was still coming, but it was nowhere in sight.
“Yes, thank you,” said the little man, tipping his cap. He turned from the trail towards Maggie and could see that she still looked frantic.
“I’ve got to go back,” she said, still breathing heavily. “I gotta get that notebook.”
“What? Why would you want to do that?” asked the man shaking his head.
“My story is in there. I’ve been working on it for a week now. What am I going to do about the contest?”
“Well, ye can’t go back there. That thing was a demon! Did you see the teeth? It tried to eat yours truly for dinner, and that’s not okay!” said the man shaking his head emphatically. Maggie slammed her hand against the fence and exhaled.
“But my story..I’ll have to start over. There’s no way I’ll get it done in time for the contest now,” explained Maggie.
“What contest? Is it that important that you’re willing to risk life and limb?” asked the man. He put his hands on his hips and eyed Maggie waiting for a response. Maggie looked back at the man and took notice of him for the first time. He was an older man with rosy cheeks, and he stood about as tall as her knee. She begrudgingly shook her head in agreement.
“Well, it’s a story writing contest for March, and the winner gets $20,000, and the only copy of my story is in that notebook,” said Maggie pointing defeatedly towards the trail. The little man’s eyes lit up.
“$20,000 ya say. Well, I see now. That’s quite a sum,” said the man. “HMMM,” He tapped his index finger on his lips. “Well, what was your story about anyway?” asked the man. He abruptly seated himself on the ground and got comfortable before looking up to Maggie for a response. She smiled at the man’s peculiar gesture and lightly shrugged her shoulders.
“Like I said, it’s a St. Patty’s Day-themed contest, and the prompt was ‘I couldn’t believe I had caught an actual leprechaun,’” explained Maggie. The man stared at Maggie blankly before jumping back to his feet.
“Now that’s just awful,” shot the man, quickly becoming animated. “I mean, leprechauns are people er uh beings too ya know.” He began to pace as he lectured. “We have–they have feelings. Plus, highly unbelievable…catching a leprechaun…you know they’re very clever and quick and also handsome,” said the man nodding confidently. Maggie looked at him perplexed. Ok, so he is small and strange, and apparently, he has a thing for leprechauns. Great, she thought. “That’s from what I’ve read, of course, on the matter…of leprechauns,” added the man casually. There was an awkward silence as Maggie nodded. “Well, anyway, no need to go into details on your story. I’m sure it’s wonderful and very kind to the aforementioned ensnared leprechaun with no harm done or hard feelings etc.” The man pushed back the cap on his head and pointed to Maggie. “Now I can’t get you your wee book back, but seeing as I owe ya for plucking me from the jaws o death, I’m going to make it up to you.”
“No, really, that’s okay. I’m sure you would have done the same. And you know, I don’t think there’s anything you can really do to help me at this point,” replied Maggie.
“Aye, but fair is fair, so it’ll be done, then we’ll be square, and you’ll have my thanks,” assured the man putting his hand to his chest. “Now, if you’ll tell me where to have it delivered, you have my word that I’ll be by tomorrow with something special for ye,” said the man with a smile. I did kind of save his life, thought Maggie toying it over. He seems harmless enough. Why not?
“Okay, it’s 1216 Stark Road–
“Ah, I know just the place,” the man interrupted. “Tomorrow then?” Maggie shrugged confusedly. “Aye, cheer up. Tomorrow will be a better day, okay?”
“Sure,” doubted Maggie. “Hey, I don’t even know your name?”
“Ah, forgive me. All the commotion, ya know. I’m called Jacob, he said, removing his cap with a bow. What can I call you, my dear?” Maggie couldn’t help but smile.
“Maggie,” she answered.
“Ah, that’s a good name indeed. You get home safe now, Maggie, before it gets dark, and thank you again for your kindness and bravery,” declared Jacob. He then replaced his cap and skipped off down the road. Maggie shook her head as she watched him go. She glanced back towards her notebook. “Well, there goes my story,” she said to herself. She turned and climbed back over the fence, and headed up the trail out of the park. She walked the rest of the way home in silence, contemplating what to do about the contest.
The next morning when she got up, Maggie quickly recalled the events of the previous day. She headed out to the kitchen to get a drink of water. A large light green envelope with her name on it sat on the counter by the sink. She opened it up, and inside was a little black notebook just like the one she had lost along with what looked like dozens of 100 dollar bills. She grabbed up a handful of the money in disbelief. Quickly opening the notebook, she found it entirely blank except for a note written on the first page.
A new notebook to write that story you mentioned about a harmoniously encountering a handsome leprechaun. I also left $20,000, so don’t worry about rushing for that contest. Sorry, I couldn’t stop to say hello, but it’s a busy day for me.
“Happy St. Patrick’s Day,” said mom, startling Maggie. She quickly slammed the notebook shut.
“Yeah, uh, it is, isn’t it,” she nodded as she stared at the notebook. She quickly picked up the envelope and the notebook before rushing back towards her room.
“Don’t you want breakfast?” called mom.
“Uh, no,” said Maggie popping her head back around the corner, “I got a story to write.”
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