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A story by Elena Pollastri from Pisa, Tuscany, Italy
A boy named Marco loved running and used to dream of running faster than all of his friends. Actually, he used to dream of running faster than anyone else and maybe one day to win the 100 meter dash at the Olympics.

One day, while resting after a very tiresome countryfield race, elfa he saw an elf in the woods. She looked like a little girl, but actually she was just a little bit bigger than a cherry, and a hungry snake was about to devour her.

Marco saved her, and the little elf told him that he could make a wish. So he told her that his only wish was: to be able to run faster than anyone else.

The elf disappeared into a cloud of smoke and Marco found himself turned into a centaur.

It was surely not what he had intended to become, but anyway, no one could defeat him any more in a race. He not only won the 100 meter dash, but also all the other types of races at the Olympics. ( Some people protested, but the regulations said nothing about centaurs. Thus, it was not possible to eliminate him. )

Furthermore, he made lots of money through publicity, as well as by being one of the main attractions at the most famous circuses. He also had two very nice and attractive girlfriends: a girl and a mare. They adored him and they were not even jealous to one another.

Everything seemed perfect, but despite of these successes, Marco began to get more and more restless, as time went by.

One bad day, while he was thoughtfully trotting in the woods, he met the little elf again: "Hello, human", said the little creature.

Marco returned the greeting and said: "I would like to thank you for what you have done for me, but lately I have been thinking about it and I came to the conclusion that I would rather be a human than a centaur. I know, of course, that I might not win the races I run, should I be turned back into a human being again, but I would still have more fun! Let me explain this a bit further: being half horse I run too fast for all the others, but after the initial enthusiasm of winning, I realize now that I no longer get enough satisfaction out of those easy victories. If I were a human again, I would certainly get more enjoyment out of trying to surpass others. Besides of that, I have many other problems, and in this state of affairs it bothers me more and more to see people in the street curiously turn around to look at me. Please, turn me back as I was before!

centaur The elf nodded in consent, as she wore a strange smile printed on her lovely, pinkish face: "Expressing oneself in a precise and correct manner is something very important for winning in life" she said.

Marco shook his head in disagreement and said: "I don't agree - and anyway, I am only interested in winning races." But before he could finish that sentence, he realized that the elf had disappeared.

For a while, the little creature's voice was the only sound to be heard in the air on that strange day: "If you agree, I will turn you back as you were before - at the end of your next race."

Marco agreed. accordo

The race was to begin just a few hours after meeting the elf. Marco won the race as usual, but on passing the finishing line, Marco turned into a strange, small, greenish something, instead of becoming a human being again.

Marco was angry and frightened at the same time. When he was finally able to return home, he called out loud for the elf and she suddenly appeared before him. Naturally, now the creature looked like a giant to Marco, and Marco was a bit frightened. Despite of that, he asked: "Why didn't you turn me back into a human?"

The elf smiled: "Isn't it what you had asked for? - remember! You have asked me to turn you back as you were before, and so I made you revert as far as possible: it became a hundred million years, to be sure, but you had not specified how far back. Didn't I give you the advice to be precise? - remember?!"

After listening to the elf, Marco lost the last bit of temper he had left and after having insulted her with the worst insults he knew, as well as with those he didn't know but had invented there and then for the occasion, he finally concluded: "Damned xxxxxxx. Turn me back one more time into a human being that would resemble all the others!"

Until now, the elf had only wanted to teach Marco a fanciful fun lesson, in order to make him a bit wiser and, at the same time, to have some amusement with him in an elf-like way. But now she was really fed up with him and with a terribly solemn look on her face she said: "You always make the same mistake, stupid boy. I will make you resemble all humans! Every few minutes you will resemble a different human being, right up to the end of your short life."

elfa1 The elf was so angry with the human because he had replied in such a nasty way. Her anger was almost perceivable. Still contemplating the matter, she added: "Considering you saved my life I will give you a last chance. You can make another wish whenever and which way you want, but be careful, because it is the last one I will grant you. Think it over quite well this time, and make good use of your wish!"

The creature disappeared again and that halo of anger in the air was perceivable for a long time during that strange day. This time Marco was more careful. He went through some transformations and waited until he resembled an older and wiser person. Then he called the elf and said: "This is only a dream!"

"What?" asked the elf.

forest elfa1 "You heard correctly. Let it be that all this is nothing but a dream!"

The elf thought about it for a while, but finally agreed and said: "Be it as you wish", and before disappearing she smiled mysteriously.

The elf woke up from a strange dream in the middle of a clearing in the woods. This dream had given her a great idea in constructing a good fun lesson in favor of an annoying human boy who always came to practice on the paths of her beloved woods, disturbing the enchanting peace. The elf would conspire with a snake friend, making believe that the snake wanted to bite her upon the boy's arrival, and then.....

The end?

Had the elf decided that everything that had happened was nothing more than a dream of hers? - No, it just couldn't end this way! It would only have been a partial victory for the elf, when it should have become a fun lesson, isn't that correct? What good thing had Marco actually learned, humanly or elf-like speaking?

He had just learned that victories that come too easily, won't give satisfaction. Could this be enough for the elf? The elf was not one to be satisfied with partial victories and so, she only had a single choice: That of choosing that everything which had happened had been a dream for both of them. And that is what she arranged: Hence, also Marco woke up from a strange dream in his city apartment... As usual, he went to run in the woods and as usual he disturbed the elf who was waiting to teach him the cheerful lesson she had dreamed of.

But unlike on other days, the boy could vaguely feel something strange coming up, regarding a dream. So he stopped running and began to think....

While contemplating, he had time to look around himself and for the first time he realized how beautiful and enchanting the woods were he had chosen for his practice. We don't know how it happened, but all of a sudden he understood that all that wonderful beauty was given as a contribution by all the beings who lived there and that it went well beyond the victories or defeats of anyone of them in the great game of life.

Marco decided that he would still return to the woods quite often, but not for running. From now on he would practice elsewhere. He would still run to win, of course, but above all for passion, for the pure pleasure of running, because to him, running meant fun and excitement, running was wonderful!

In the meantime, the elf was watching him from her hide-out. Naturally, she had overheard everything because like all elves, she could easily read into the hearts of human beings, and this particular boy for the first time seemed wonderful to her.

"Stay this way forever", she whispered.... But it was not magic this time, it was only hope. Then.....then seeing a bird..... Although profoundly moved by seeing a bird, the elf was unable to resist: while Marco was absorbed in admiring the sky, she managed to get the bird, who had a physiological duty to fulfill, to pass over the young man's head and....

And that is really the end.                                 The End.

Latest update: November 17, 2001. back to top >>