At age thirteen, the teachers were worried about Nixie, the little pixie. Her grades had been steadily declining. Once a passionate straight-A student, she was now growing bored and restless in all her classes. When the teachers looked at her with disappointment after she had failed a test, she rolled her eyes and chuckled.
Nixie was sent to one of the teachers, Mrs. Fawn, to talk about her feelings.
“I believe that stress is the root of the issue here,” Mrs. Fawn concluded after a brief assessment.
“Stress?” Nixie chuckled, “what would I be stressed about?”
“Well, there was your mother’s passing a few years ago…”
“I know, but I still see her, still talk to her, even more often now than I ever did when she was alive!” Nixie smirked.
“Why are you laughing?”
“It’s funny, it’s ironic. Are you suggesting I have to be sad my whole life because of something entirely out of my control?”
“Of course not — but when you suppress your sadness, it comes out in others ways such as a lack of focus, trouble in school… It seems to me that you downplay your emotions… Were you taught to do that during your childhood?”
“I dunno,” Nixie shrugged, “look, I had a hut to live in, food on the table to eat, and a family. That’s more than anyone can ask for. The only tragedy in my life is how tragically boring it is.”
“Were you ever abused?”
“Uh,” Nixie fidgeted.
“It sounds like you have something to say…”
“Nope,” Nixie shook her head and crossed her arms.
“Why do you think you’re struggling with your grades? Are you scared of asking for help?”
“No!” Nixie denied, “I just don’t like school. I don’t like how everyone is placed in the same box and expected to learn the same way. I don’t feel like I’m learning anything, I feel like I’m just memorizing stuff and then dumping it out of my head to make room for more memorization. I don’t like sitting back and listening to teachers blab all day long, or writing papers, or answering questions, or giving speeches. I like hands-on experience and actually doing stuff.”
“Aha,” she nodded, “what about staying late after classes and getting extra help?”
Nixie stared back blankly; it was as if Mrs. Fawn hadn’t heard a single word she had just told her.
“You can always come talk to me whenever you need to,” Mrs. Fawn continued, “I can help you deal with your stress.”
“I told you, I’m not stressed. I have nothing to be stressed about. I could actually use a little stress right now, I’m bored out of my mind. Can I be excused now?”
Later that day, Nixie escaped into the forest to talk to the Grandmother Tree who would surely be much more understanding.
“I know what my problem is,” Nixie confessed, “I need love. I know I’ll never be happy until I find it.”
“Happiness comes from within,” she replied, her voice as warm as freshly-baked cookies. “You can’t count on someone else to solve all your problems.”
“I know, I know. But haven’t you heard the songs? Seen the plays? Love is the only one thing worth living for. I could never only live for myself.”
“Do you think you’re ready for love?”
“Yes, I’ve become a woman. I’m not a little girl anymore. But, you see, the boys in my classes are surely not ready. I need a real man.”
“The thing is, I know I’m a water pixie, but I’ve always felt this strong urge to be a woodland pixie. I know my soulmate does not live by the water, but deep in the woods. I can feel him out there somewhere. As soon as I finish schooling, I’m heading out west to find him. That’s the plan. It’s just, what can I do now, while I’m stuck here?”
“You can do whatever you want.”
“I’ll gain experience and practice for him. So this way, when we meet, I’ll be ready! I need some kind of experience… just not too much experience, ya know?”
Although Nixie felt an intense yearning for love, she had always been used to being alone and equipped at taking care of herself. Nixie recalled many nights when her family would go traveling while she preferred to stay alone at home and play with the animals.
On her fourth birthday, the family had arranged to see a play that Nixie was too young for — forgetting they had scheduled it on her birthday. So, she was left home with their babysitter — a centaur — half-man and half-horse. Nixie was incredibly fascinated by the centaur and still had a wonderful birthday by herself. The centaur took Nixie out into the fields and taught her how to shoot her first arrow.
For her siblings birthdays, Nixie planned ahead. Knowing that she would naturally feel jealous watching a sibling receive all those gifts, Nixie would gather her own presents ahead of time and pretended they were her gifts.
When she was nine-years old, once again left alone in the straw hut while her family went off to explore, Nixie arranged for a mermaid to come over and have her hair professionally braided. She surprised her family when they came home and saw her freshly twisted locks!
Nixie recalled the scariest night of her life. When she was ten-years old, she came home from dance lessons to an empty hut in total darkness. Her dance-friends had all been telling horror stories during class about monsters and serial killers. She knew her family would return home soon, but for now, she was all alone. Deciding to head straight to bed, she kept hearing creaky noises and catching glimpses of unsettling shadows in the corner of her eyes. Fear took over as she cried herself to sleep, continually telling herself, just fall asleep as fast as you can, and when you wake up, it will be daylight, and everything will be okay. It seemed like eternity, but she finally fell asleep that night, safe and sound.
Nixie had a new best friend, Isla, a water pixie who was also part-nymph. The two girls looked just alike — although Nixie, who was a bit smaller, felt like Isla was the prettier version of her.
To Nixie’s relief, Isla was ten times more boy-crazy than her. Nixie was in awe of how many boys Isla had chasing after her and found it quite amusing. She would switch boyfriends every other week. Isla’s crowd consisted of mainly boys, all smokers and burnouts.
“I want a boyfriend,” Nixie told Isla with a sigh.
“Trust me, you don’t,” Isla dissuaded, “it’s too much drama!”
While so many boys naturally gravitated to Isla with flirtation, Nixie was always met with rude and standoffish energy. She had many classes with Lazarus and Damian, who picked on her constantly. She also had a Latin teacher named Mr. Aqua who subjugated her so much, even her classmates noticed and felt bad.
But Nixie would never let boys get in the way of their friendship. What really brought the two girls together was their wacky sense of humor. They would laugh at the strangest things and no one else would understand. Constantly falling into giggling fits, everyone else would stare at them like they were crazy… and they really were. They had nicknames for each other: Nixie was “Nizzy Bo-Bizzy” and Isla was “Izzy Bo-Bizzy.”
As they walked together, they would hip-bump each other, and sometimes it got out of control — to the point where Isla hip-bumped Nixie so hard, she knocked her into a crowd of others walking by.
One day, Nixie and Isla walked into the center of town to watch their classmates put on a skit. Gandalf Degrab, a half-pixie and half-gnome stood in the center of the stage wearing nothing but boxer shorts and an oversized half-buttoned shirt, holding a fake beer-bottle. The crowd roared in laughter as he danced around, pretending to be drunk off his arse, while piano played in the background.
Isla had been so star-struck, that the following day, she completely froze after spotting him between classes and nudged Nixie, “it’s Gandalf!” she squealed.
“Hey, Gandalf!” Nixie shouted.
“Hi,” he quietly replied with his head down.
“Who was that?!” Nixie turned to Isla.
“Oh my God!” Isla freaked, “It’s the boy from the skit yesterday!”
“That’s him?” Nixie furrowed her eyebrows in bafflement, for he seemed so much shyer than the boisterous man they had previously witnessed on stage.
From then on, every time they spotted him, the girls tried to get his attention. Nixie became more and more fascinated with how such a superstar could blend into a crowd so sheepishly. She asked around about him, and those who were close to him claimed he was silly and hysterical, always putting on a show and making people laugh with his dramatic ways. Yet Nixie still couldn’t see it — he came off as so timid and humble.
Nixie knew that Isla was crushing on him, but she could not resist her growing curiosity towards him. She figured, Isla had so many boyfriends, what would matter if she went after Gandalf?
Nixie tried so hard to start up a conversation with him, but he wouldn’t budge. He refused to let his guard down around her and Isla. He could not reveal his true, uninhibited self to them — and this frustrated Nixie greatly.
The more Gandalf withdrew himself, the harder Nixie wanted to chase after him. So badly, she wanted to get to know that stage-boy persona that he covered up so discreetly.
During classes, Nixie spotted Gandalf with his friends. The group of boys were all staring at her, shaking Gandalf around and telling him, “c’mon, go talk to her!“
As Nixie began to approach them, Gandalf disappeared into thin air — teleported somewhere else.
Frustrated, Nixie stood tall with her hands on her hips and asked his friends, “what’s up with your buddy?”
“We’re trying to get him to talk to you,” Finch explained.
“Yeah,” Xantho added, “he really, really, really likes you.”
“Seriously?” Nixie sighed, “because it seems to me like he’s avoiding me. And when it does that, he just makes me want to come closer. Can you please just let me know if he doesn’t like me, and I’ll back off?”
“No, no, he really does,” Finch explained, “he’s just shy!”
“You need to try harder, try getting him to talk to you,” Xantho insisted.
“I say ‘hi’ to him every day and he just puts his head down,” Nixie moaned, “just tell me the truth, tell me he doesn’t like me, and I can move on. Don’t tease me.”
“Like we keep saying, he’s shy. So try harder.”
“Ugh!” Nixie rolled her eyes and left in a huff.
Nixie was a very determined girl who did not want to miss out on a chance with love. Gandalf was different, it felt like they had a deep connection, a past-life romance perhaps…
She absolutely could not stand the way he pulled away from her every time she got close, the way everyone seemed to know him better than she did, the way he kept himself such a mystery to her… her thoughts became obsessive.
Nixie began to spend most of her time at the beach, alone, without her crystals for protection — in hopes of finding Gandalf. Months went by, and she still never spotted him.
Until one day — finally! There he was! Gandalf was taking a stroll along the water all by himself. Nixie perked up and decided that this was the perfect time to talk — no school and no classes getting in the way.
Nixie headed over to him and said, “hey, Gandalf!”
To her surprise, he replied back without hesitation, “hey, Nixie! What’s up?”
“Not much!” Nixie said, amazed at how confident he suddenly seemed. “How about you?”
“You know, same old,” he casually shrugged.
“Cool,” Nixie smiled.
“I gotta go, but I’ll talk to you later?”
“Sure!” Nixie was ecstatic, “I’ll see ya!”
So, it wasn’t the world’s deepest conversation — Nixie thought — but it was a start! It was something to build on.
The following day, Nixie saw Gandalf during classes, and ran towards him to say hello. But to her disappointment, he disappeared again.
“GAH!” Nixie screamed, “what is wrong with that boy? We were just talking yesterday!”
And then Finch’s face turned red and there was a sudden shift in his energy.
“Wait a minute…” Nixie thought out loud, putting the pieces together, “that wasn’t him I wasn’t talking to yesterday! Of course not, he was way too confident! And I didn’t have my crystals on me — it was a shapeshifter!”
Nixie pierced into Finch’s eyes, her mind-reading abilities much stronger now that she was older.
“It was me,” Finch admitted, remorsefully.
“Why would you do that?” Nixie cried out, “is this some kind of joke?”
Furious, she stormed off.
Nixie ran into the woods, pealed off some tree barked, transformed it into paper, and used a bird’s feather to write — with her own blood.
“Gandalf, I want you to know that I’m letting you go. I really thought we had something here. I thought of you constantly, you never left my mind. I tried so hard to get your attention. But the closer I got, the further you ran. Good luck with your future and I wish you the best… Nixie.”
In hysterical tears, she dropped the letter off in his mailbox at his straw hut home. She didn’t understand why she craved him like a drug, for she hardly even knew him. All she knew was that this was an unhealthy obsession gone too far.
The following day, Nixie went to the beach again without her crystals. Her intuition was telling her that this was a bad idea, that leaving herself vulnerable to shapeshifters was no good. Still, a part of her was hoping Gandalf would find her and apologize.
And there he was, walking towards Nixie. Her heart was pounding. Her intuition began screaming, telling her to run. But she wanted to give him a chance, to see what he’d say to her, how he’d respond to her letter…
“Nixie,” he began.
“Yes?” she said with hope.
“Uh-huh?” Nixie leaned in closer.
“Truth is that I want you to leave me alone. I think you’re a stalker. I think you have a lot of problems and you need to go get help. I’m terrified of you. I’m scared you’ll come to my house in the middle of the night and cut off my head. And I’m not talking about the one above my neck. I really don’t like you, I…”
“OKAY!” Nixie shouted, cutting him off, “I get it!” and disappeared immediately, teleporting back home to the safety of her crystals.
The following day during classes, Xantho eagerly ran up to Nixie with a sick smile on his face.
“Hey! I heard you talked to Gandalf yesterday!” He grinned.
Wondering why he was so smiley, Nixie fought back with a bigger smile, “yeah! And guess what! I don’t care!“
“He really think you’re a psycho.”
“Okay!” Nixie shrugged, continuing to force a smile.
“Yeah, he thinks…”
Nixie pierced into his eyes, like she did with Finch before, searching for the truth.
“That was you,” she realized, “you were shapeshifting yesterday, pretending to be him.”
“So what?” Xantho came clean without any remorse.
Nixie’s jaw dropped as if she was staring into the eyes of Satan. Out of all the friends who had backstabbed and betrayed her, she had never made an enemy like this one before.