This is a translation of "Schneemädchen" by Sionon Klingensang on " "
The old woman had trouble to draw herself up. Finally she had gathered enough firewood. Now, it was just a matter of getting home before sunset. But her old limbs refused to move as briskly as she would have liked.
"Hurry up!" The voice sounded like little bells.
„If you hurry, you can overtake that snail there!" said a voice in the treetops over her head.
From some bushes at the wayside she heard a ripple of laughter.
Elves. How she detested those creatures!
„It's all very well for you to laugh at me" she spat. "All very well – you don't know what life is like, because you don't know what death is like, you don't know nothing at all, stupid, vain things you are!"
And to emphasize her words she spat in the direction from whence she had heard the laughter.
The anger lent her strength, she hobbled a little bit faster. Two of the elves continued to mock her, but the one hidden in the bushes seemed to hold his tongue. Had her spittle really hit him?
She didn't think so. Weren't those stupid elves always oh so nimble and swift? And anyway, it didn't matter, wouldn't even matter if an elf-lord incarcerated her in the dungeon of his secret forest castle as punishment for this insult. She was old, it wouldn't be for long. And she would at least have seen something else than her mean little hut before she died. It was very much like a prison anyway.
"Why are you so sad?"
She started with fright. There he stood, directly beside her, the elf with the rippling laughter. Fair hair he had, almost golden, as the fair folk had in all the tales, and his eyes seemed to mirror the blue of the late summer's sky.
"Why, because I'm old and cannot walk anymore, and even have to endure your stupid mockery on top of it. That's why!" She blinked the tears away. Why was she weeping? She could not even remember when she had last shed a tear. Her life was hard enough anyway, she had never lamented, never cried...but no one had asked how she felt, either. Not, at least, as if they really wanted to know.
"I am sorry. I did not want that", he replied, regarding her with his blue eyes, looking like an innocent little boy. "Let me carry that wood for you."
"No", she snarled and held the meagre fruit of her labour more tightly. "I...I can carry it myself." Why was she so timid, all of a sudden? Why didn't she just tell him she wouldn't let him steal it?
"Then tell me why you are really sad"
„Not now. Have to go home." Maybe she would be a tiny bit less tired and feel more confident tomorrow. Then, maybe, she would tell him to get lost.
"Tomorrow, then? Will you be here again?"
„The firewood won't gather itself."
"I will wait for you."
And with this, he vanished. Peace, finally.
But...maybe she should have let him carry the wood. It seemed to get the heavier the nearer she got to her little hut. Elven magic? His revenge for her refusal to take part in his little prank? Probably not. She was getting old, that was all there was to it. It was a miracle in itself that she was still alive.