nixi

i. Kids playing hooky early morning, I am the pain relief pills they hide under their tongue and spit out under the couch cushions when their mother shuts the screen door. I am the first time you skin your knee, in the rain whispering nixie weaved revenge spells down your yellow coat and your red boots (the first time you really know you are alone). I am the hand stand on the sidewalk when your elbow buckles in like lame horses fall to the canyon mouth, you are just a child. You can fly, turn invisible, speak to animals, walk through walls. Rustling, do you hear it? Yanking the baby teeth from their pink beds.

ii. You crumble under the weight of a naked black sky, feeling something skittering on your skin. Something wicked and naive. Like a spider egg. You get a mouthful of broken teeth, and lay frying sunny side up on the summer asphalt.

iii. Tonight you’re gonna learn how to fall, then get back up again. Tonight you are gonna know what it is to be exhausted. Are you okay when you fall off your daydream and end up on your back? Your eyes are red where they used to be white.

iv. you have been chewing your will to live with the aching wisdom teeth you desperately need to get pulled. you have been softening it with your saliva, but it’s 11 pm, and it’s stale now, and it tangles into your rapunzel locks in your sleep and finally gives you an excuse to cut all your hair off.

v. Last week your dentist asked if anything was bothering you, and you almost told him about the small tooth you think is growing between your tricuspids, pushing everything out of place, sending you on the verge of sonic tears and crawling on the bathroom floor with no idea where your phone is, and something out of control, and poison, and odontalgia, and dysthymia, and forgetting the Latin roots, and ripped out pages of a book that was supposed to tell you how to get back home and. how long do you think I can hold my breath before I look like a blueberry, and it is, in me, and the throbbing red bump at the base of your sternum and how you tried to cut it off but you were too scared of what was underneath, and dandelion seeds of reasons why you should just stay here until somebody forgets you even showed up heaving out of your mouth and into a McDonalds bag, and the feeling at 13 in the bathroom stall after swim practice shaking like coffee on an empty stomach pulling out the first tampon you ever put inside, and your wet thighs, and the warm dirty smell.

Gargle, spit. You say no. Nothing really.

vi. you should get gold fillings. then all you have to do is flash a smile and no one will fuck with you.

vii. Four months until graduation we are not wasting time, but we eat it too fast and end up vomiting on the highway. On the swing, wood chip splinters, and agitation like termite fever beneath my skin. It’s not that I think the zombie apocalypse would be cool, but I could do all the things I do right now without getting sideways glances in the convenience store, or being told I’m depressed like it’s such a problem, or being treated like the splattered milk gallon on the dairy aisle linoleum. Everybody stepping back and maneuvering their shopping carts around the fresh disaster, and staring, and looking away, and ignoring what they don’t want to deal with. And not wanting the blame.

viii. I’m not depressed. It’s just winter.

ix. Is this the last weekend before the first blood? I’m not gonna do my homework anyway.

x. I’m not depressed. My brother took me into the car with the light fixture wires hanging from the ceiling like your wet hair from shower tiles. we zoomed down with Apollo laughing in the backseat and egged the big white houses in Beverly Hills and pretended like we were still the strawberry jam kids on concrete playing hopscotch, living in sandcastles, eating mudpies. Like we were not hotboxing, and taking pictures of half healed things under the band aid, and always ready to put our hands up when we hear sirens, and microwaving earthworms. And growing up too fast.

I’m not depressed. But I’m not coming back this time either.

xi. It’s a haunted Sunday in the home your parents left to rot, and the black mold spores bleeding down the buttermilk wallpaper are causing you to do unadvisable backbends. And somehow years later I am still the grocery list you are always throwing in the trash with the candy wrappers.

—  6. graduation cometh

Submitting bc this idea has been building for a while, after reading your comic. I hope this isn’t presumptuous.

There are some places on the campus where space… folds.

If you step through this arch at midnight on a new moon when only starlight creates shadows you’ll step from the neatly-paved courtyard to the paired stones outside Tara. Thankfully the Good Neighbours there are used to it, and will tell you how to get back, though it might cost you the shirt off your back. Apparently they’re making a super-quilt.

There’s the small grove just at the edge of campus and in the middle of summer when the dragonflies drone and pollen spirals through shafts of sunlight like flakes of gold you really need to avoid the ring of Fly Agaric that sprung up after the stump of the old felled white oak rotted away. If you don’t, make sure you have some milk, or some cream, or a sack of really high quality charcoal. The Huldrekin at the other end might just send you back if you come bearing gifts, though if they especially like you they may keep you and send back a changeling instead.

There’s a twisting void in the stretching pond (and if you look at it through the trees of the grove it looks like it’s far larger than it is, a lake, not a pond) and yes, there’s the Nixies you know, and the melting sun-shy Asrai, the leather-capped Merrows, and the sealy Selkies you’ve come to recognise - they’re almost open about things, and if you’ve ever let one take you to bed you can see them all, waving at you. They’re probably the only ones which let you see, and won’t curse you for it.

(The seal-like teeth had freaked you out at first, but there is a reason Selkie lovers are reputed to help with heartbreak.)

(You remember that week fondly, and you still go down with pieces of unusual fish after there’s the market in town. It doesn’t hurt to maintain a good relationship with your ex, and especially not when they’re of the Good Neighbours.)

Generally, though, you won’t see the Sjora or the Havsra, the single, lone wish-granting Ceasg, the small amphibious Kallran, unless you are very polite. Usually your ex will introduce them for you and then, maybe, you’ll be allowed to See through, see the kelp-green hair or the needle-sharp teeth, or the wide-and-watching fishlike eyes. Sometimes, if the magics begun to permeate even you, you can smell the fish they’ve been eating.

There’s a cupboard in the cafeteria, affectionately called Narnia, and two Student Halls which everyone is reasonably certain are secretly entrances to an eternal party held by the Good Neighbours - it’s either that or, somehow, every year, the vapers and drinkers and party-ers all end up in these two halls, and end up rolling into their lectures 10 minutes late and with cups of Good Neighbour-made hangover cure. They’re tightlipped about what happened, but, well. Everyone assumes that’s the price of entry.

The science labs are free of these odd little folds, probably because of the iron, but the Law building is filled with them, as are the Arts departments. History has two doors in the East corridor that lead… elsewhen. Not elsewhere, elsewhen. Some of the students use them for history papers and cultural studies essays, but they have to be very careful if they ever intend to come back.

Twice now the budding archaeology department have done a practice dig only to find century-old bones that definitely show evidence of modern braces. And no one talks about the three-hundred year old FitBit.

(“You have walked 19,967 steps today!” It had shown in a pretty and definitely non-standard cursive when a … maybe changeling student had picked it up and wiped off the years. “You have 10% battery left. Please give me more magic!”)

(Now the techs are trying desperately to see if they can power their computers with magic. This would be easier if their building had less iron, but they aren’t about to move.)

(Not like the budget is going to let them.)

[X]

2

   Nixie;  shapeshifting water spirits in Germanic mythology and folklore who usually appeared in forms of other creatures.

   Leanan sidhe;  a beautiful woman of the Aos Sí (“people of the barrows”) who takes a human lover.