Prompt: A poet pixie has to use her writing to save the world, but she only speaks in haiku.
It was the darkest place she’d ever been, and it wasn’t until that point that she truly understood what darkness was. Before, up in the forests, it was just like the weather, coming and going and never taking up all the air. There was always something to break it up: fireflies, the moon, the stars, the distant glow of human villages…
Before Apollonia’s descent into the mud, tubers, and stone, the darkest place she’d ever encountered was the interior of a giant snail’s shell. It was particularly stony, so it didn’t have the amber glow of light penetrating it. She had tried to nap in that darkness, to outwait the centipede perched outside, its red mandibles drooling over her sugary pixie flesh, but she could not bring herself to stay there.
How could anything sleep in blackness, as if the whole world was dead around you? Now, she had no choice but to face the darkness. Her nest, her people, had always been tasked with guarding a fissure in the ground, something nearly hidden by the roots stitching it together. Down there, where the light never reached, were the magical stitches that kept the whole world in one piece.
Apollonia’s gift for poetry was natural, so natural that she could only speak in the haiku form, but her interests had never strayed down that fissure. She always looked to the sky, inspired by the dancing bright forms of both night and day. She wrote great sprawling epics about each of the stars, about their dinners around the sun’s table, and about the battles where they spent the light that eventually splashed down to Earth.
Yet her poems had been conscripted for the deepest fight, away from her inspiration, away from the moon and its whispering giggles. The stitches down in the deep weren’t made purely of magic, or of material at all. They were poetry. They were the reason all minds gravitated to rhythm and verse, because they all sensed the importantce of it, not as communication, but as adhesive.
There were things in the darkness, down in the fissure, that paid attention the more light you brought into their realm. So, when a stitch popped and echoed far above, threatening the seams, it was the duty of a lone pixie to descend with a single firefly on their torch and craft a new poem to close it again.
Apollonia had the best poems, her stitch would surely last the longest, so there was no choice in the matter. She was two days deep, the walls touched her shoulders, and her firefly blinked on and off now. She saw complete darkness every few moments, and her tiny fluttering heart skipped a beat every time.
There was no sleep to be had as there was no sun to guard her dreams, no heavy leaf with raindrops above playing with the shadows across her resting cheeks. It was just the dirt, the darkness, and the days.
Finally, nearly consumed by fear, mind only lit by memories of constellation poems, Apollonia arrived at the stitches. They were golden fluid bonds, like the fog outside the afterlife, and their top halves visibly held the Earth together. She approached, setting down her useless torch and the dead bug clung to it, and saw that the cause of the snap was not natural. There was a gremble sitting there, picking its teeth with a fiber of the stitch. He had broken it, and was hard at work gnawing on another. He was a stumpy gray creature with big ears and teeth. They fancied themselves artists as well, but only ever made one-word poems. The pixie opened her mouth.
‘Gremble chewed the world
Why does Gremble destroy it?
Ego? Hunger? Id?’
‘He thinks it’s his turn
There’s no place for single words
Verse is for pixies’
‘Fighting down here? No!
Step aside cur, I am strong
My verse is Mighty’
‘Unfair is darkness
Unfair is verse without light
Surface, learn the truth’
‘I promise nothing
pixies hate without reason
but the sky welcomes’
‘You don’t know it yet?
‘I’ll show you the stars and moon
In verse, old Gremble’
Yours, everyone’s, the sky is
See it stitch the ground!’
The gremble stood aside and let Apollonia approach. She made a new poem, one too good for any human font, and it transformed into a new gilded stitch. It was full of the images of the sky above, and the gremble could hardly believe his tiny watery eyes. He was embarrassed by the golden threads between his blocky teeth.
Apollonia took his hand, three fingers in six, and together they walked back to the surface. Once he saw the light he would know there was room for more than one word, more than one verse, more than one art in all of the world.
Author’s Note: This flash fiction story was written based on a prompt provided by HitGirl98 during a livestream. I hereby transfer all story rights to them, with the caveat that it remain posted on this blog. If you would like your own story, stop by twitch.tv/blainearcade during one of my streams and I’ll write it for you live!