An Unexpected Visit

Sometimes it takes meeting someone else with their own task to realize what it is you’re meant to be doing. A Lord of the Rings fanfiction that could also be titled “To Motivate a Lazy Nerd.”

I sit at my desk and glare at the pile of books and papers that just won’t seem to go away no matter how much reading I do. I have a poem to write, a paper that requires passages from books I can’t afford and therefore do not have, hockey practice, paperwork, applications, money problems, classes to register for and, of course, standard things such as eating, sleeping and homework. I get up to try and motivate myself and instead end up throwing myself on my very soft and comfortable bed. “Why do I have so much work?” I groan. “All I want to do is read books and maybe write some. No obligations or anything of course… why is my life so difficult?”

There’s no response, but I suddenly have the impression of movement  in the room and jerk upright. There’s a small figure standing at the foot of my bed that’s faint around the edges and has a pale, otherworldly appearance. My breath catches and I wonder if I’m seeing a ghost. It doesn’t look anything like what I’d imagine a ghost to be, though. For one thing, it’s middle-aged- and I’ve always associated ghosts with great age or extreme youth. Which is rather idiotic in retrospect, but at the time, all I think is that this apparition isn’t the right age for a ghost. The next thought is that someone who looks to be in his forties- admittedly very well-preserved forties- should be taller. But he’s barely at my shoulder height, and I’m 5’4” at a generous estimate. Yet he’s not a midget by the normal definition. I feel horribly confused. “Who are you?”

He gives a faint bow, but it’s not mocking in the slightest. “Frodo Baggins, at your service and your family’s.”

If I had taken a sip of the tea on my desk I would have choked on it. I notice for the first time that he’s wearing a torn and battered cape, and his clothing is in horrible condition. As I try and decide whether this apparition is a blob of mustard or whether I’ve gone completely off the rails, he looks around. “Can you tell me where I am?”

My brain temporarily short-circuits and while I’m stuttering, he goes on quietly: “I was in the pass to Cirith Ungol, almost asleep. Then I found myself here.”

I wince. I’ve definitely lost it now. “I think there’s been some kind of mistake.”

“Do you have any idea what happened?”

“Ah…” That would most definitely be a no. My complete bewilderment must have finally found its way to my face, for the apparition- who I still cannot accept to be a hobbit from Middle-Earth- gives me a sharp look. I can’t meet his eyes for long; I know way too much about how much worse it gets for him from here, and it’s uncomfortable to think about.  I’m ruminating whether or not it’s worth telling a hallucination that he’s about to be betrayed, viciously attacked to the point of near death, captured, and nearly lose his mind if he goes back. But before I can say anything, he asks: “I do not mean to intrude on you, but do you know how I could go back?”

My jaw drops at this. “Why would you want to go back there?”

“You know that place? How?”

I glance at my bookshelf that has my copy of  Lord of the Rings and immediately look away. “I’ve heard of it,” I say wildly. “And you can’t– why would you want to go back there once you’re away?”

“I have to go back,” he says, and there’s a hint of sternness in his voice that makes me feel about two feet tall. “I have a task to do that I cannot leave undone.”

“It doesn’t bother you that that task is basically going to take you through Hell?”

“Do you know about it?” he asks again, and now his voice is very stern and I can’t help but wish that this Frodo had the wishy-washy qualities he’d had in the film adaptions. I’m finding this tough and understated version more than a little disconcerting. “How,” he goes on? “My errand was kept secret.”

“It’s a really long story,” I say drily. “But still- why do you want to go back to it? You’ve already been through a hell of a lot, and it’s not going to get much better from here.”

“That makes no difference to what I have to do. Even if there’s no hope for me to complete my task, I cannot abandon it.”

He means it, I realize. There’s not the slightest hesitation or hint of whining in his voice and I feel again about two feet tall. He’s already been, if I remember correctly, climbing miles of stairs, dealing with Gollum after Faramir, struggling against the Eye that he can feel in Mordor, and walking for hundreds of miles with nothing more than fancy bread to keep him going.

Somehow the mountains of reading don’t seem nearly as impressive anymore.

As though he’s read my mind, he looks around the room. “What is it you have to do? Do you have a history you need to search? You sounded worried when I first arrived.”

I want to sink into the floor. “Sort of, yes. But it’s more that I need to write essays and talk about what that history means. Other than that, I don’t actually need to do it.” I have a crazy urge to apologize, though I don’t know for what. Maybe for griping and complaining when all I have is really a bunch of papers and readings, things that in the end are going to pass away, and not really matter, things that I could do in a heartbeat if I wasn’t so lazy. I can’t look at Frodo now. It’s not like the weight of the world’s on my shoulders. It’s not like I have to struggle every day to keep my sanity.

When I look up, the apparition’s gone. I blink for a few minutes, unnerved and a little sad. But I have things to do, and though I may not have to struggle to keep hold myself, I do need to fight to keep my work going. I pick up the papers, and though it’s not without a sigh, I don’t give them quite the same glare of resentment I’d given them before.

A/N: Just to be very clear, absolutely none of this happened. Not even on my most caffeinated late nights have I hallucinated a fictional character. This is all me making fun of myself for griping about the oh-so-difficult college life I lead. Hope you enjoyed!

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4 thoughts on “An Unexpected Visit

  1. This is a really awesome concept! 🙂 I think we all need a good shake sometimes when we complain about our work and don’t consider that our lives could be a lot better than many other people’s. And what better way is there to express that fact than using our very own fictional character Frodo?
    Well done! 🙂

  2. Man, I would love it if fictional characters showed up in my room to motivate me – I could have used a Frodo last night. This was a quite entertaining and fun way to put life in perspective.

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