Winning piece of Other Words: Flash Fiction Contest

Creative Voices

By Russell Schmitt / Contributor || Edited by Jacopo Menichincheri

Canone waded through the brackish water. The ends of her well- kept hair-more blue than the sky itself- dragged through the water. She didn’t mind, tales passed down argue that the mildly salty water of the shallows kept one’s ends from fraying and splitting anyways. Canone was not gliding through the water with her usual grace, for an archerfish had angered her the day before. In retaliation she settled for being unpleasant to swim near today. Sand and mud oozed through her toes with every step, a comforting feeling. The young nixie approached a mangrove tree far larger than any other in the shallows. Canone weaved her arms through the elevated roots of the tree and rested her forehead upon its rough bark. She held tight to the roots, “I miss you Kala”. Her words were soft. Even amid silence her broken voice did not travel. The large mangrove tree swayed in the wind as if responding to Canone’s gentle embrace. A large smile crossed Canone’s face,  “Thank you Kala”. She planted a kiss upon the large mangrove tree and detached from its mangled roots. The rough bark left imprints in her delicate skin. Canone sang as she waded back through the shallows. 

“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.