Title Rosetta Gnome
Author Ashley Parker Owens
In a mash-up of Alice in Wonderland and Sun Tzu's the Art of War, an inexperienced gnome joins a group of misfits plotting to free enslaved gnomes from ogre fields.
In a mystical world where food gardens flourish with the help of magic, Wil stumbles into a misfit group of escaped slaves that eagerly embrace him into their clan. Over time, Wil learns the clan members are thieves and malcontents, determined to destroy the ogre overseers in revenge for their use of slave labor. His new clan prefers illicit trade to garden labor. Despite his bias against their thievery, Wil grows closer to his radical family as disaster strikes. A rebellious but beloved member seeks to take over the clan by murdering the current leader.
Shifting loyalties complicate the ensuing trial. Through a twist of fate, Wil finds himself in an unenviable leadership position. Wil’s first task includes executing the accused killer as an act of justice. Unable to carry out this cruelty, Wil hatches an escape plan for the alleged criminal.
As a leader, Wil faces an onerous internal dilemma. He can either adapt his beliefs to become an unethical leader to gain his clan’s freedom or he can continue to alienate his new family with his strict morality and possibly lose them all.
The wedding scene fuzzed to dark gray as Widow Losel finished the wedding pronouncement. “…and henceforth from this day, Wil and Rosetta are a suitable pair of growers, never to break apart as forbidden by the Gnome Council.” She looked back and forth at the wedding party, then added, “Except in cases of banishment.”
Off the path, a nearby bush twitched and crackled. Wil peered closer. He must be imagining Roddy from loneliness. His attention darted to Volney, who stared into space with a blank expression. Bet Roddy would be thrilled Wil had a mate since that was Roddy’s number one goal in life. Wil sighed. It wasn’t what he wanted. Not like this. If he could stick around, the future could change, but the present appeared hopeless.
And I must execute Hagley! A wave of icy dread swept through him, and he could barely make out Widow Losel’s drone beyond the ringing in his ears. Dizzy, he leaned toward the wedding tree, his fingers grabbing the bark to anchor him.
“You ‘kay?” Og handed him a lit kudzu stick.
“Yes, I’m okay.” But he wasn’t. Wil inhaled the zuzu and felt a wave of nausea. He’d ruined his life. This was even worse than his years of failed gardening. Wil was glad he could imbibe with others since the owl was now a preacher, not a judge.
Widow Losel soared up to the wedding tree’s tip, chosen for its height, and pruned a leaf. She swooped to Rosetta and hovered in front of her, offering it with a nod of her head. Rosetta took it from her and ate it. “You may now smile and bow to your spouse.”
Wil forced a smile and bowed toward Rosetta as she curtsied to him. How sweet she is, he thought as her pinkish hair fell across her forehead. Their eyes met, and a jolt of kinship zinged through him. They would have grown to love each other if he’d stuck around. He caught a whiff of pine in the breeze, and his stomach calmed.
“Party time,” Og yelled out, disturbing his gloomy reflection. He hit Wil on the back with such glee it almost knocked the air out of him. Wil glanced over at Rosetta, but she didn’t return his gaze. Her expression had locked back into her regular blank mask. Doll-like but disconnected, not happy or sad. How did she feel about marrying a banished gnome? It probably didn’t matter to her. Volney’s brewing anger didn’t even bother her, immune as she was to the feelings of others.
The Gnome Council’s mandate for him to marry Rosetta was the wrong way to start a kinship. If he didn’t have to leave, maybe the spark of genuine love would ignite later. Had Dirgham ever loved Lily? Probably not... That might explain his father’s continuously percolating anger toward him and his mother.
Lucia sidled up to him and whispered in his ear, “I’ll travel with you, Wil; I’ve nothing to lose.” Her sweet breath lingered in wisps of his hair, haunting him. If Lucia came, they’d violate the Gnome Council rules. Wil didn’t think Lucia would fit into the life he wanted. He hoped to create a village based on his former life on the farm. Every bit of green and every vegetable was cared for and alive, loved and revered, any leftover scraps returned to the earth for rebirth.
Maybe, he thought. A tiny spark of hope rose, but his former crush on Lucia had deflated. She seemed disloyal. Her life with Hagley contained secrets he’d rather not know. She’d never work in the garden, and he suspected if his parents returned, they wouldn’t like Lucia. They’d like Rosetta, but he couldn’t think of her as a companion.
As the group moved back to the warehouse, he concentrated on lifting each foot to parade behind the others. The scent of the forest placated his unruly stomach. Og and Volney lifted a frowning Rosetta to their shoulders and marched her high like a queen. She whimpered as the lower pine tree branches knocked against her face and needles tangled in her hair.
The boys had trouble keeping their shoulders together, and it appeared she might fall between them. Wil should protest but didn’t have the energy. She’d be okay. They chanted a song he didn’t know, and he felt even more alienated. As they stomped through the woods, Volney passed him a second lit stick of kudzu, and he took it, stumbling along with one in each hand. Anything to quell the pain. He hoped Widow Losel wasn’t nearby.
Giveaway: I’m one of the authors participating in the Gobble Up Books Giveaway and you can win a print of my Rosetta Gnome.
Runs November 1 - 30 and is open internationally for many prizes. Winners will be drawn on December 1, 2021.
Ashley Parker Owens is an Appalachian writer, poet, and artist living in Richmond, Kentucky. While attending Eastern Kentucky University, she earned an MFA in Creative Writing. She also has an MFA in Visual Arts from Rutgers University. She is currently employed as a quality assurance software engineer.
My online resume with a comprehensive list of published images, poems, and prose can be viewed at my website https://www.ashleyparkerowens.com
Ashley is the owner of the indie press KY Story, proud publisher of twenty-six anthologies and chapbooks celebrating the Kentucky, Appalachian, and Southern voice. Several online art exhibitions are also available on this website. https://kystory.net
Gnome Stories Series
Gnome Harvest, 2021
Rosetta Gnome, 2021
Hollow Rigors of Gnome, 2022
Doll’s Eyes of Gnome, 2022
Euphoric Drift, 2018
Unruly Spirits, Dancing Girl Press, 2018
Puppet, Rinky Dink Press, 2018
Territorial Misfortune, 2017
Member of Bluegrass Writers
Participated in MadCap workshops
Bluegrass Writers Studio alumni
Relationships with KY Arts Council, Lexington Arts Council
Ello is the only social media I use regularly https://ello.co/ashleyparkerowens
Linkedin.com artwork and publishing account https://www.linkedin.com/in/ashley-parker-owens-39525480/ 313 connections
Note: I no longer use Facebook but it is still active
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