Urban Volcano

Fiction by Börkur Sigurbjörnsson

“The Icelandic belief in elves is nothing but a pile of utter nonsense,” claimed my grandmother where we sat in the dining area of her residency and played a game of chess.

Elf Betrayal — Illustration by Börkur Sigurbjörnsson
Illustration by Börkur Sigurbjörnsson

“How come?” I asked, a little surprised by her comment which I found to come out of thin air. “Why do you say that?”

“When I was young,” my grandmother started her story using the same phrase as she so often used in her later years. “I was sent to herd the cows in the field every afternoon. Every single day I had to walk past the big lava field that was famous for being the habitat of elves. Every time I passed the elfish colony I spoke to the elves and made a wish I would become a poet.”

My grandmother paused her story while she killed one of my pawns with her bishop and threatened my king.

“And how did life turn out?” she continued after the killing. “I moved to Reykjavík, studied law, founded my own practice and ended up as a supreme court judge.”

She paused her story again, looked up from the chess table and out of the window.

“But I never became a poet.”

This piece of flash fiction is based on a true story.