A little green elf stood in the centre of a human room, trying to ignore the shaking through his whole tiny body at the thought of a human walking in. The house was quiet, and it was the perfect place to practise. But he knew he had to be quick, just in case a human did come.
He squeezed his eyes, his face, his hands, and his toes, but still nothing happened.
The little elf let out a ragged breath, pouting to himself at being unsuccessful. All the other elves could, so why couldn’t he?
The little elf gritted his teeth and tried again, focusing with all his might.
There was a shuffle at the door.
‘What’re you doing?’
A little human girl peeked around the doorway, holding a ball, her eyes wide.
‘Shh. I’m practising not being seen,’ the little green elf said, forgetting that he wasn’t meant to let the humans see him.
‘Oh, sorry,’ said the human. ‘I suppose I should look away then.’
But the little human padded into the room and stood and pretended not to watch.
The little elf tried and tried, and he saw the human glancing at him from the corner of his eyes, but no matter what, he knew the human could still see him. It wasn’t working.
‘I can’t do it!’ He wailed, turning around to look at the girl, trying to be sure she could still see him.
‘Shh, it’s okay,’ said the little human girl, rushing over and scooping him up with her hands. ‘I’ll help you.’
‘But I have to do it myself.’
‘Who said so?’
‘The elder elves. They say you’re meant to be invisible to humans all the time and only show yourself when you want, but I can’t turn invisible at all!’
The little green elf’s lip wobbled, and he slumped his shoulders as he sat in her hands, looking at her palms dejectedly.
He could feel the little girl’s large eyes on him, and then she spoke again.
‘What if you’re meant to be the first elf who is always seen? What’s wrong with that? Then you can talk to humans.’
The elf looked up. He hadn’t thought of that.
But are we allowed to talk to humans?
He covered his mouth quickly. He didn’t know. What if he wasn’t meant to be seen by her and that’s why the other elves were always invisible.
He shrugged and pouted again. ‘I just don’t know. All my siblings do it. And they tease me when I can’t.’
‘That’s not nice.’
‘No, it’s not. So I want to be able to turn invisible all the time because then they’ll stop.’
‘You really want to?’ The little human girl asked.
The little elf nodded, setting his face firm, determined.
The little girl sighed. ‘Okay.’ She put him back down. ‘How about this. I’ll stand guard outside the door so no one else comes in. You keep practising. Tell me when you think you’ve got it, and I’ll peek in and try to see you. Deal?’
The little green elf grinned. ‘Really?’
The human child nodded.
The human girl picked up her ball again and padded back outside the room, closing the door softly behind her. The little green elf could hear her throwing and catching the ball in the hallway, and he smiled.
This could work!
Knowing he had a safe practising space, the little green elf tried again, closing his eyes and focusing over and over on being invisible. Over and over, he tried again, and his hands and eyes hurt from squeezing so hard, and his breath became static.
Then, he felt something happen.
‘How about now?’ he squeaked out to the little girl, trying to keep focusing on this weird feeling in his body—like a fizzling and light airiness.
The little human child opened the door a little and peeked in, looking straight at him. ‘No, sorry. I can still see you.’
The little green elf sighed but tried not to feel dejected. ‘I’ll try again!’
She nodded and closed the door behind her again, this time rolling the ball around on the floor. The elf could hear it on the wooden floor.
He tried again, still squeezing his eyes, hands, face, trying so hard to become invisible that he didn’t realise he was holding his breath. He let it out in a spurt, gasping.
The little girl peeked in. ‘I heard a noise. Are you okay?’
She was looking straight at him again. Disappointed and tired, the little green elf flopped onto the floor. When he looked up at her, he saw the little girl looking at him in sympathy.
‘What if it’s not hard. What if it’s easy? But you think it’s hard, so you’re making it hard. My dad says the harder I think something is, the harder I make it. He tells me to relax and just try to enjoy what I’m doing. It’s easier then!’
She was still peeking around the doorway, and she offered to stay outside again one more time.
‘Try again! I’ll open the door when you tell me you’re ready.’
The little girl closed the door again, and this time, he didn’t hear her playing with the ball. Maybe she was just relaxing too. He listened to her doing nothing and tried to think about relaxing. All the other elves said it was easy and always looked relaxed. Maybe it was.
He took a deep breath and tried to relax. No clenching his teeth or hands this time. No squeezing his eyes shut this time. Instead, he just stayed lying on the floor and stared at the ceiling and listened to the girl doing nothing outside.
He felt another tingle. This time bigger.
But the little elf ignored it and kept relaxing, pretending he was becoming invisible like the air, just like his siblings had said, and relaxing, daydreaming about becoming a cloud and floating in the sky where no humans could see him.
His fingers and toes tingled. Then his nose.
This time, he imagined running around in the garden outside the little girl’s house, jumping and leaping in the wind secretly with no humans seeing him.
His belly tingled.
The door creaked open again. ‘Little elf?’
Footsteps came into the room, but the little elf was too busy daydreaming about flying on the wind.
‘Little green elf?’
The girl sounded anxious now, and she pattered about the room, looking for him.
I’m right here, what’s wrong? The little green elf wondered as he heard her call him again. I’ve not moved an inch.
‘Did you leave? I’m sorry if I couldn’t help you.’
The little green elf stopped pretending to be the wind and looked up at the girl. She really couldn’t see him. He looked down at his hands.
Have I … become invisible?
The little green elf got really excited, but when he looked back at the little girl, he saw that she looked really upset and had sat on her bed, pouting and rolling the ball around in her hands. His excitement dropped and he wondered how to turn back uninvisible.
‘It’s okay,’ he squeaked. ‘I’m right here!’
The girl looked up and tried to follow the noise.
‘Little green elf?’ She looked around. ‘But I can’t see you. Are you hiding?’
‘No, it worked! I turned invisible. Your help worked!’
The little girl’s face lit up, and she squinted her eyes as if that would help her to see him.
‘But I don’t know how to turn uninvisible now.’
He’d not listened to his elders or siblings at that part. He’d never needed to before, after all. Then, the little green elf got excited all over again. He jumped on the spot, and he felt his energy rise.
‘I’ll come back tomorrow! I’ll go ask them how—the elders.’ The little green elf turned to leave, and then he stopped. ‘I mean, can I?’
The girl grinned. ‘Of course! And I’ll stand guard again outside if you need me to.’