Drawing of a tiny person dressed in a flower. Caption reads: "An angry little creature, dressed in a flower, left inky footprints."

Pixie short story by Iris Carden

I was writing the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper. It was a ball-point pen, so not all that old-fashioned.

As I wrote, something strange happened with my previous paragraph. the ink seemed to melt from its place on the lined page, pool and pull together. Then it shaped itself into a tiny creature, which looked kind of human, but in miniature, and appeared to be dressed in a flower.

This little being, stomped across the page toward me, leaving inky footprints behind it. It stomped its little foot and put its hands where its hips presumably were under the flower.

“Hey you!” the creature said. “Yes you. The big dumb thing with the pen. Are you the author?”

“Ah, yes. Yes, I am,” I answered.

“Could you please explain who I am supposed to be. You use one word for me: ‘pixie’. Then you don’t say anything more. You don’t specify if I’m male or female or neither, or what I look like, or what I’m supposed to be doing here, or why I hand this apparently valuable jewel to a complete stranger. Just who am I supposed to be? What’s my backstory? What are my goals? Do I like sushi or do I prefer meatballs? Did I go to school? Who am I supposed to be beyond just a random ‘pixie’?”

“Uh. I’ve never had this happen before. You are really just a random pixie. You’re a very minor character. Your role in the story is to help the hero acquire this one object.”

“So this jewel will help him rescue some princess locked in a tower or held ransom by a dragon?”

“Well, actually she is the princess, you see and…”

“Oh it’s one of those. All very post-modern are we? Turning the tables on the old tropes, following the feminist agenda? Very original, I don’t think. While you’re empowering poor downtrodden princesses, what about minorities like pixies? We have feelings too. And we’re far more overlooked than any pampered princess.”

“I didn’t really think…”

“No you didn’t think. You didn’t care enough to think. You picked a random character to play a functional role, without caring anything about them, didn’t you?”

“I guess I ….”

“What other characters are you doing this to? Are there fairies, or are you really trendy and using faeries? How about gnomes or dwarves?”

“Aren’t dwarves small statured humans? It’s medical or genetic or something. I think they prefer to be called…”

“No dwarves are not small-statured humans. Small-statured humans, indeed! Dwarves everywhere would be rolling over in their graves if they heard that! How insensitive can you get?”

“Rolling over in their … are they all dead? Was there some kind of dwarf plague?”

“No they’re not dead, you idiot! They spend all their time underground, don’t they? Mining and such. So they’re most comfortable underground. They dig themselves graves to sleep in so they’ll be comfortable. Dead? Dead! There’s no intelligence test for authors is there? They let just anyone do it.”

“I suppose….”

“And then you don’t do any research. You don’t find out about dwarves or pixies or anything. I bet you’ve never even met a princess. I bet you just make it all up as you go along.”

“Yes, that’s kind of how it….

Well do better!

The little creature stomped back to its place on the page and returned to being letters on the paper.

I crossed out a couple of paragraphs, then resumed writing.

Periwinkle was a pixie who loved her home among the wildflowers by the stream, but sometimes she wondered what the wider world was like. She was curious about other life forms, and wanted to know how they lived and what was important to them. When Princess Perfect came riding by on her beautiful white horse, Periwinkle was not in the least frightened by the huge size of these creatures. She was interested in learning about them.

Am I doing better, I wonder?

While you’re here…

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Everything on this site is the product of human, not artificial, intelligence.


By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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