The wind was terrible. It always was cold and blew through his frail skin. He hated it. Not that that was anything new; he hated everything: hobbits, rings, light, terrible elves and their funny pastries. Once again, he was not eating. He wanted nothing to do with elven food; it made him sick. So as the two hobbits sat in the comfort of their nice cloaks, Smeagol sat and whimpered.
“Look here,” the nasty, stocky hobbit said, “it’s your decision not to eat, so don’t plague us with you whinings and whistlings.” The Baggins said nothing, but Smeagol could see it in his eyes: Baggins didn’t want Smeagol. Baggins never liked Smeagol. Nobody did, but that didn’t matter. Smeagol didn’t care. Not really.
Smeagol rubbed his hands, uneasily. They ached again, but so did his stomach. In the back of his mind, he could hear his old voice remind Gollum: “It isn’t right! You must eat! Please, love, for us! Eat the nice bread! We’re so hungry!”
“Cur!” Gollum’s voice hissed,”you don’t wants the nasssty elven breads, do you? Nasssty elvess, nassty breadss, oh, yes, precious.”
Smeagol shook his head, in hopes to block out the contreversy going on in his mind. Oh, what he’d give to make them all go away. He wanted to be Smeagol again, plain old Smeagol. But then, to be cured would kill him. He didn’t want to die. Death scared him, but then he was more wretched than death.
Smeagol sighed, and looked at Baggins. He had gone back to munching at his elven bread, paying no heed to Smeagol’s suffering. But how could Smeagol expect him to care? No one ever did.
“We hunts,” Smeagol said, to no one in particular, “We finds what we needs to eat. So hungry!”
“Fine!” the nasty hobbit said, and mumbled in addition, “Good riddance.”
Good riddance. Uncountable were the times when Smeagol had heard that. Good riddance. No one cared, no one saw Smeagol anymore. Truly, Gollum had taken over. There was no Smeagol in his body, only in his mind. Perhaps that’s why Smeagol respected Baggins: Baggins had called him “Smeagol”. Smeagol had hoped that this Baggins was not as dense as others, that he might see past Smeagol’s skin to the trapped halfling within. “That’s impossible now,” he thought, “No one can see into us. Because of Precious.”
Smeagol’s memory went back far. He had been around for ages, given unnatural life from his Precious. But there had been a time when he was normal. There had been a time when he was sane. He tried not to remember it, but the time was still clear in his mind.
He had never been anything special to look at. He was quite plain for a hobbit of the river, with black curls and blue eyes. He was lanky for a hobbit, not as pudgy as most. His laugh was merry and he was fond of eating. He worked as a carpenter, building huts and furniture, but in his spare time, he fished. The river was always tranquil, and Smeagol loved to put his feet in the water and feel the soft current between his toes. One particular day he remembered quite well. He was just bringing his boat in to dock when he heard from behind a voice cry:
No sooner than this happened than Smeagol felt something hit the back of his heat, and he fell flat on his face in the water. He stood again, spluttering, and he saw laundry strewn about him. The other thing he noticed was the basket on his head. He pulled it off and whirled about to see who had caused this disgrace. But before he could become angry, he saw her. A hobbit wash woman with golden curls and bright green eyes. She had rosy cheeks and wore a blue calico dress. Her hands were in her creamy apron and she wrung them as she ran down the hill.
“Sir! I am so sorry!” she cried, “I tripped and the basket rolled and launched off that ledge up there and hit you right in the head. I can’t believe it, I am so sorry–“
“It’s all right, really,” Smeagol said, smiling at her, “It was only an accident.”
“–I’m just so clumsy, sir, and it’s terribly embarressing. I’d understand if you want to inform my family. I can’t tell you how terrible I feel. I can’t believe–“
“Miss, it’s all right!” Smeagol laughed, “I won’t tell anyone, it doesn’t matter. I’m not hurt, you’re not hurt, everything’s fine, see?” The girl smiled and looked at him.
“Really?” she said, “You’re not angry at me?” Smeagol shook his head. The girl sighed deeply in relief.
“What are you called?”Smeagol asked.
“Keara,” the girl said, “You?”
“Smeagol, I am sorry.”
“It’s all right!”
“Well, in that case, you can help me clean up!” Keara said. Smeagol laughed and bowed.
“Of course, lady, how foolish of me!” Keara smiled and Smeagol thought for a moment that all the stars in the universe couldn’t amount to the beauty of her smile.
Smeagol waded out to the river and back many times that day to retrieve Keara’s laundry, but he couldn’t have thought of a better way to spend his afternoon. When he finished, he made a small fire and cooked the fish that he had caught that day. When Keara had finished her laundry, she and Smeagol sat in the sun and ate the fish and talked. When they were finished, Smeagol picked up Keara’s basket and walked her home. When they reached Keara’s front door, she turned.
“Thank you, Smeagol, for not getting angry,” Keara said, “This could have been the most embarressing day of the year.”
“Between the two of us,” Smeagol said, quietly, “I’ve fallen out of my boat enough times to account for any embarressing moments you may have.” Keara laughed, her eyes twinkling bright enough to surpass any king’s jewels. Without thinking, Smeagol brushed a curl from Keara’s eyes. Keara stepped back and placed a hand on the doorknob.
“I should like to do this again sometime,” Smeagol said. Keara turned, glancing at the open window to her left.
“I wash every Saturday at noon,” she whispered, “Shall I see you then?” Smeagol nodded.
“Good-bye, Smeagol,” Keara whispered.
“Good-bye!” Smeagol returned, and Keara slipped inside. Smeagol turned and ran all the way home, his heart full of love for the maid he’d met that day. Over the next weeks, Smeagol would see Keara every Saturday and meet the supposed barbaric father of Keara, only to find out that he was a lovable old man who took a great liking to Smeagol. Little did Smeagol know that Keara’s father was about the last person to take a liking to him.
Smeagol’s eyes were wet when he returned to the hobbits’ campsite. He had caught a few coneys and ate them in silence, blinking at the two sleeping hobbits. When he had finished eating, he crawled silently to peer at the hobbits. The Sam-creature was on his stomach and breathing deeply, but Baggins was on his back with one hand beneath his head and the other on his chest, protecting the Ring. His eyes flitted uneasily in a feverish dream beneath his eyelids and his mouth slightly open. Smeagol stared at the youthful hobbit in envy, feeling suddenly very old and tired. Smeagol was old, terribly old. Why could he not just die, easily and painlessly? Why did he have to go on living each day more wretched than the day before? No one cared for him anymore, anyway. Why go on?
As he stared at Baggins, he felt a great sympathy for him. Baggins was too young and too desperate. He deserved to go untouched by this evil. He should not become wretched as well, he was too kind.
“We could help him, precious,” Gollum was back.
“No!” Smeagol cried, “Leave us alone, gollum!”
“Take the Precious from him,”Gollum wasn’t stopping, “We’ll help him by taking it.”
“No! Leave us alone! We don’t wants it, no! It kills us, it does!”
“It is for Bagginses, yes, my precious,” Gollum said, “We helps them, so’s they don’t become wretched like us. No, precious, not like usss.”
Smeagol’s lip quivered and he cautiously laid his skinny fingers on Baggins’ hand. He may have gotten the Ring had a small sob not escaped from his throat. Sam sat right up and looked at Smeagol.
“You little thief!” Sam cried, “Get away from Mr. Frodo!” Smeagol nearly lept a mile and scampered back. Baggins sat up, groggily.
“What happened?” he asked.
“That caniving fiend tried to take It, Mr. Frodo,” Sam cried. “Ahh, we spits on Sam, we does,” Smeagol pursed his mouth shut, for he knew he would curse Sam if he opened his mouth.
“Smeagol-“Baggins began, in a warning tone.
“Not us, Master,” Smeagol was quick to say,” Sam judges us as he sees us. Not so.” Sam growled in the back of his throat, but Baggins only sighed. He rubbed his eyes as Smeagol began “gollum”-ing pitifully. Smeagol could never help the horrid noise, it sort of came and went in involuntary spasms. His throat would tighten up so he couldn’t breathe right and when he swallowed in attempts to reopen his throat, it would make a sickening noise like “gollum”. Smeagol hated it, but Gollum didn’t seem to care, which was probably why the noise kept returning. Problem was was that if Smeagol didn’t “gollum”, he couldn’t breath, and suffocating scared him.
“Smeagol, at least promise me that you shan’t frighten me again,” Baggins said.
“We promises,” Smeagol said.
He crawled away to give into sleep and feverish dreams.
Dreams were always flashbacks of the past. Smeagol could never have pointless dreams like normal people. And tonight, with all his memories of Keara, his dream brought back the most memorable night in Smeagol’s past.
Keara and Smeagol were on their way back from dinner at the Green Wood Inn. As usual, Smeagol took her hand in his as they walked down the starlit path in the woods. It had been a year since Keara’s laundry basket had hit Smeagol’s head, and they had seen each other every weekend.
As they walked along, Smeagol suddenly took both of Keara’s hands and said:
“Come here, I want to show you something.” Keara looked at him oddly and let him lead her. He took her to the top of a hill and showed her the stars.
“Do you see all these?” he asked, and turned to her, “When I first saw you, I made up my mind that all of the stars in the universe couldn’t compare to you.”
“Smeagol-” Keara whispered, with joyful, shocked tears glistening in her eyes.
“I wanted to say all this before I forgot or lost myself, even though I’m not very good with words,” Smeagol began speaking rapidly,” I have never really thought much about, well, you know, being in love and-and such.” Smeagol stopped to take a deep breath to compose himself.
“But when I met you, well, you know…”he stroked her soft hands and leaned closer to her ear, “I love you.”
Keara trembled and said nothing. Her cheeks got rosy and a smile broke out across her face. Two joyful tears escaped from her eyes and made two little streams down her face. Smeagol wiped her face and cupped his hands below her ears, stroking her cheeks. Keara slipped her arms around his neck and drew herself closer.
That night, not even the stars could compare to the hobbits’ happiness as their lips pressed against the other’s in a moment of spontaneous bliss.
The following year Smeagol and Keara were wed a month before Smeagol’s birthday. His birthday. Birthdays were supposed to be a joyous time, but as things couldn’t get any better, they obviously had to get worse.
The morning was joyous for the new couple, and as the day wore on, friends popped in and out, offering Smeagol gifts.
It was around noon when Deagol showed up. Deagol was a cheery fellow, with golden hair and laughter in his eyes.
“Come on, Smeagol!” he said, after giving him his birthday present, “Let’s go down to the river! I found the perfect spot for trout!”
Smeagol glanced at Keara, for they had planned on spending the afternoon together, but Keara simply said:
“Go on and have fun! Bring something back for dinner!” Smeagol smiled and followed his friend.
They came to the river and pushed out to fish. The day was perfect and they soon found that they were lacking enough bait. So Smeagol hopped out and began poking about the riverbank for slugs.
A few moments passed and Deagol continued to fish. Smeagol dug his fingers into the soil, pulling out two white slugs. It was then that he felt It: the presence he would come to know as the One Ring. His eyes widened and his throat tightened and for the first time, he “gollum”-ed. It passed quickly, but when Smeagol turned and saw Deagol gloating over something in the palm of his hand, Smeagol was filled with an overwhelming desire to have whatever Deagol gloated over.
“Deagol, my love,” his cried, using the jesting phrase that he and Deagol often used, “what have you got there?”
“Nothing,” Deagol said, “it’s mine, anyway.”
“Oh, please, now, we want to see it!” Deagol and Smeagol always referred to themselves as a group, another jest whose origin was forgotten.
Smeagol waded out to the boat, for he caught sight of something a golden-color in Deagol’s hand.
“It’s my birthday, Deagol,” Smeagol said, “give it to us.”
“I already gave you a present, and it cost me enough, I might say, “Deagol said, “I’m keeping this.” Smeagol’s mind ran wild. Deagol was keeping this thing, this beautiful, mysterious thing! How dare he! Smeagol had asked for it, and nicely, too! It was then Smeagol heard a crooked voice, hissing in the back of his mind:
“Take it, fool! We wants it, yes, we must have it! We mussst!”
“Oh, are you, now, love?” Smeagol hissed. He was alongside the boat now, with Deagol looking down at him. Deagol’s fist was nearly white from clasping the precious thing. Smeagol looked at him, with his eyes glistening with madness. He would stop at nothing, he wanted it!
He tipped the boat and Deagol tumbled out. Smeagol, being the quicker and stronger of the two, grabbed Deagol by the throat and dragged him under the water. Deagol fought back and struggled out of the water.
“Smeagol, what-” but Smeagol dunked him under again. Deagol struggled and kicked Smeagol. Smeagol fell in and soon Deagol was on top of him. Thoughts of Keara hit Smeagol like a rock. “How stupid is this?” Smeagol thought, “I’m fighting for something unknown, and now I’m going to die and lose my wife.” But somehow he fought his way to the surface and all thought of his new wife disappeared. He saw It, the golden Ring, for Deagol had loosened his grip. It was solely on his mind, nothing else. He took a tight grip on Deagol and though Deagol struggle, Smeagol didn’t ease his grip till Deagol lay still.
All was silent. Smeagol felt like he was coming forth from a dream, until he saw Deagol lifelessly floating in the water. Smeagol was horrified, and worse, he was in denial.
“It’s my birthday,” Smeagol mumbled, “He should have given it to me when I asked.”
He looked down at the Ring in his palm. It was flawless and pure, beautiful in every aspect. Smeagol looked at the dead Deagol, not knowing quite what to think. He put the Ring on his finger and carried Deagol away.
After he buried Deagol, he headed home by way of the town. It was there that a curious thing happened: no matter who Smeagol waved at or acknowledged, they never looked at him. This brought up a peculiar idea, and to test it out, Smeagol stood in the center of town and made absurd faces to everyone who passed. No one noticed. Smeagol soon realized why: the Ring made him invisible! How perfectly wonderful to be made invisible whenever he liked. He soon forgot about Deagol and raced home, making sure to take off the Ring before he entered his home, for he didn’t see how to explain everything to Keara, Not yet.
Well, people searched for months for the body of Deagol, but it never turned up. Eventually, everyone gave up. Smeagol, meanwhile, kept finding more and more uses for his “Precious”. He didn’t have to work, because he could merely take things without being seen. He and Keara became richer and richer, while Keara remained oblivious to the source of her new glories. Smeagol was honest, she knew that, he’d never pilfer anything. Or so she thought. But soon Smeagol became irritable and hard to locate, and Keara began to worry. Something wasn’t natural. And one fateful night, she found out exactly what.
Smeagol had been gone all day and into the night, so his worried wife waited for him. Around 10 o’clock, the front door mysteriously opened and shut, then a second later, Smeagol stood on the doormat, stuffing something in his pocket.
“Smeagol!” Keara cried. Smeagol looked up.
“What?!” he flinched.
“How did you do that?” Keara asked.
“Do what?” Smeagol returned.
“Appear– on the door mat,” Keara specified. Smeagol wrung his hands. It had to come out now.
Trembling uncontrollably, Smeagol drew Keara close to him and whispered in her ear.
“Would you believe me if I told you that it was a ring that could make me invisible whenever I wanted?” he asked.
“No,” Keara whispered back. Smeagol drew forth the Ring from his pocket.
“But it is, Keara, it is a ring,” he said, holding the Ring out so she could see it, “Go on, have a look. It’s wonderful!”
Keara stepped back and looked cautiously at the trinket her husband held. She nearly touched it, but her hand flinched back and she said to Smeagol:
“Destroy it, Smeagol! It’s evil! Get rid of it NOW!”
“Oh , now, please, Keara, love, it’s my birthday present,” Smeagol whined, “It’s precious to me.”
“Birthday present?” Keara spat out the words like they hurt, “From whom?”
“Deagol.” Keara narrowed down her eyes, suspiciously.
“Smeagol, Deagol has been missing since your birthday, and he gave you a new hunting knife,” she said, “I stood here and watched you open it.”
Smeagol ran his fingers through his curly black hair and turned to lean against the fireplace, keeping his back on Keara.
“Smeagol,” Keara’s voice came low and grave, “where is Deagol?”
“We killed him,” Smeagol’s voice shook.
“You and who else!” Keara demanded. Smeagol turned.
“Me and the Ring,” Smeagol said, a cunning smile spreading across his face, “Oh, yes, we do everything together now. Where do you think you’ve gotten all these new things? Me and the Ring. Don’t you see what a waste it would be to get rid of it? It’s precious.”
Keara’s eyes were wide and her lip trembled.
“Great Arda!” she breathed, “you really have sold your soul to Melkor, haven’t you!”
“No!” Smeagol cried, “It isn’t like that!”
“Then you’re a thief!” Keara cried, “and a liar! You’ve stolen, you’ve cheated, and, good Arda, murdered your best friend! I’ll tell you this much, if you can’t get rid of that thing, then I’m going to have to get rid of you!”
She grabbed his coat from the hook on the wall and opened the door.
“Leave, Smeagol,” she said, “Go.”
“Can you make me?” Smeagol jeered, “This is my house.”
“Oh so?” Keara said, “If I scream, half the neighborhood will come running, and then we’ll see what they think of the murder of Deagol, what then?”
Smeagol stood and walked out the door, taking his coat from Keara.
“And Smeagol?” Keara added, when he was on the doorstep, “don’t come back.”
Smeagol turned and looked at her. Tears streamed down her cheeks, like they did the night Smeagol first kissed her. Smeagol longed to wipe away the tears, but she’d probably hit him if he tried. She was still more beautiful than anything Smeagol had ever seen, even the Ring.
“I…shall always love the clumsy maiden whose laundry basket hit my head,” Smeagol said.
“And I the gentleman who didn’t get angry,” Keara whispered, unable to control her tears. Smeagol turned to leave.
“Smeagol,” Keara called after him, “I shan’t tell anyone about Deagol!” Smeagol only waved over his shoulder.
That would have been the last time Smeagol ever saw Keara, but Fate would not have it as so. Smeagol went to live with his grandmother, but a few months later, she turned him out, too. I’m sure you’re thinking how much more easy it would have been to just get rid of the Ring, and the true Smeagol would have done so in an instant. But the Ringbearer Smeagol couldn’t bring himself to do so.
Smeagol lived in the wild, eating roots and berries and sleeping on hard ground. He talked to the Ring and he talked to himself. He was driven out of any town he tried to stay in, so after awhile, he loathed even the existence of mortals. But every so often, he would remember Keara and stop to think of her for hours. He became so thin and frail that he had to walk on all fours to move at all. His skin clung to his bones tightly and his hair and his clothes were ragged. But it was not until his voice began to change that he began to notice his condition. His voice hissed and he “gollum”ed more often. The presence of Gollum was overwhelming. Smeagol wept, for he was afraid. No one cared for him. No one except…Keara. So three years after he had been turned away, Smeagol returned to his home for help.
He sat on his own doorstep in the rain for the longest time, trying to think of what to say. He mustn’t refer to himself as a group, he must try not “gollum”, and he absolutely had to try to stand upright.
He stood shakily and knocked on the door. A few moments passed and the door opened slightly. Smeagol could see Keara’s eyes, but she didn’t recognize him.
“What do you want?” she asked.
“Keara…” Smeagol stepped forward, but Keara closed the door a bit more.
“Who are you?” she asked. Smeagol upright a bit more.
“It’s me: Smeagol,” he said, his voice hissing terribly.
Keara looked him over and her jaw dropped.
“Great Arda!” she gasped, “it is you! What has happened to you?!”
“I don’t know,” Smeagol said, “We’re–I’m sick. I need help. Please take me in, let me rest. Something’s come over me and this rain isn’t helping.” Without even thinking, he “gollum”ed. Keara looked at him again, frightened herself.
“Is It with you?” she asked.
“Aye,” Smeagol said, for his voice didn’t hiss when he said it. Keara’s brow knit up, and she shook her head.
“No, Smeagol,” she said, “I can’t have that thing in my house.”
“Keara, please!” Smeagol cried, falling on his knees.
“No, Smeagol, I’m sorry,” Keara said, “I could help you, but I cannot conceal that evil in my house.”
“Goood-bye, Smeagol!”and she closed the door.
Smeagol fell on his face, weeping. The one person that he had had faith in had shunned him, too. He had loved her more than light and life, and this Ring, this stupid Ring, had taken her from him. No, worse, it had taken him from her. She was the same; he was not. Smeagol pressed his face against the door, weeping with a broken heart. But she did not come back. Several hours passed and Smeagol finally realized that he had lost her for good. She, too, couldn’t see past the Gollum skin and into the trapped hobbit within.
The sun came up and Smeagol despised it. So he and the Ring went deep into the Misty Moutains. The rest is history. Bilbo Baggins took the Ring, the one remaining thing that Smeagol owned and loved; Smeagol went looking for Baggins, but Smeagol was found by the Enemy, then by elves. The Enemy tortured him with hours of racks, hot irons, and whips. The elves kept him tied up. He escaped both, and continued his search for Baggins. He had nothing to his name, no one loved him. All his relatives were dead, even his beloved Keara. Smeagol had outlived them all and hated it. Now all he wanted was to die quickly, for he never had the chance to tell Keara that, though he had seen much of this world, nothing, nothing compared to her.
Smeagol felt someone nudge his shoulder. He woke up and looked up at Baggins.
“You were crying in your sleep,” Baggins told him.
“Smeagol is sorry,” Smeagol said, “Go back to sleep. Smeagol won’t do it again.” Instead, Baggins sat down next to him, and handed him a blanket.
“It doesn’t come from the elves,” Baggins said, and Smeagol threw it over his shoulders.
“You’ve had a hard life, Smeagol,” Baggins continued, “I want you to know that I pity you.” Smeagol looked at him and for a few moments, Frodo got a glimpse of the true Smeagol.
“I have seen more of this world and of people than anyone in this world should ever have to see,” Smeagol said, looking very old, “And if I have ever learned anything at all, it’s not to take people for granted.” Then Smeagol dissolved into a fit of “gollum”s and coughs.
“Promise us, Master,” Smeagol said, “Promise us that you won’t keep It. If you do, you will become like us. Promise us that you won’t become like us!” Baggins nodded and Smeagol lay down again. Baggins looked at him.
“Only you and I know how terrible this burden is,” Baggins said, “Let us be good to each other.”
“It is more terrible than you should ever know,” Smeagol mumbled.
“Do you want to tell me about it?” Baggins asked, kindly.
“No,” Smeagol said, “Too painful.”
And so the secrets of Smeagol were left unresearched. The Fourth Age began and the elves departed. Not until work on the new library in the Shire began that Faramir II, son of Peregrin Took, decided to help Sam Gamgee in researching the life of this creature called Gollum. They uncovered all that you just read and concluded that everyone, including Smeagol, got what satisfied them at the end of the Third Age. For all Smeagol desired was to rid himself of the One Ring and to have a quick end.
From the Author’s Desk: Nobody sue me if I made them cry, because I almost cried writing it! I wanted to get across to people just how miserable this Smeagol was, so the next time you hear Gandalf say “It was pity that strayed Bilbo’s hand”, you’ll know exactly what he means, or maybe the next time you hear Sam call him “Stinker”, you’ll want to slap him. I don’t know, take your pick. To get the full effect from this story, listen to “Gollum’s Song” on the TTT soundtrack. That’s sad too.