Winning piece of Other Words: Flash Fiction Contest
By Russell Schmitt / Contributor || Edited by Jacopo Menichincheri
Canone waded through the brackish water. The ends of her well-
“The noble nix
She travels far
She travels high
Looking for a place that is nigh”
The song had been passed down through her family for generations. Canone never thought it would be about her. She passed hundreds of mangrove trees as she approached the shallow bed. Some were larger, some more colorful and some sturdier. Climbing out of the water, Canone looked back at the shallows, I always thought I’d lay here one day. Canone was meant to pass down her legacy, raise the next generation of nixies and then rest in the shallows as all nixies before her had done, but there was no next generation to raise. She was the last nixie in all the shallows. Canone’s tiny body let out a heavy sigh. She did not revel in the idea of having to leave her home, yet such was the destiny of a lone nixie. Canone already knew where she would go, Thashen. It was the colony closest to the shallows, and Kala had taken her there a few times when she was still a ‘ling so she knew the way. Somewhat. Canone steeled her expression as s looked back at the shallows-at her home-one last time. “Goodbye” she sniveled, turning away briskly, holding back her tears. Canone took a deep breath, she could feel the air course through her, swirling and howling within her lungs as if she were brewing a storm in her very body. Not yet. Just 5 more beats. Canone’s heart thumped loudly in her chest, it was the only thing she could hear. The only thing she could focus on.
Canone’s blue hair started to glow.
Her cheeks turned red as she struggled to hold her breath, the storm inside her stomach howling at her throat.
I can’t do it. I can’t do it. She wrapped her fingers into fists squeezing as hard as she could. Anything to push the pain away.
She could feel every beat in slow-motion, it was as if she looked away, focused on anything else, her heart would burst straight out of her chest. Her stomach was lurching and tumbling as the storm grew, it took every ounce of her strength to not give in to the storm.
Canone let out the storm in a bellowing scream. The whole forest shook in her wake. Leaves fell like rain all around her as the vibrations traveled further and further. Canone stood tall, stretching out her back. She was proud of herself. The glow in her hair disappeared.
“They’re sure to hear that all the way in Thashen” she smirked. A shadow cast over her short figure. Canone looked up to see a large pink bird standing over her.
“Raina! Finally.” She gave the flamingo a scoff.
The bird nuzzled her cheek then wrapped his long neck around her legs and flung Canone atop his back. She stroked Raina’s feathers and clicked at him with her tongue.
“Left,” she whispered.
Raina took off. She continued to guide him through the forest with an occasional whisper which was always followed by him taking a sharp turn and Canone gripping to his feathers for leverage. She tried to explain to him he didn’t have to do that, though it seemed he particularly liked to see her struggle. Canone could see a small clearing past Raina’s head. Thashen. Raina ran right through it. The small clearing opened into a massive lake, almost ten times the size of the shallows. The water was barely visible through the mangrove trees.
This work was written in connection to the Other Words series of meetings with international authors organized by the Department of English to discuss their relationship to English and American Literature.