Janet Giles tucked a strand of her cropped auburn hair behind her ear with a huff as she sat listening to the incoherent lectures of her mother. Like any teenager, she wasn’t listening and instead, drumming her fingers along the arm of the Lazy-Boy couch. Her father had only passed away a year ago, leaving Janet and her mother with a difficult debt that had to be repaid with three-fourths of their Portland, Maine home. The only thing that was left of Janet’s bequest was a small brook and their aged house that had been built by her great-great grandfather. Janet had always loved her home because she could feel the years that it had been harbored in and she could hear the stories its walls and rasping stairs could tell. When she was little, she would close her eyes, hearing the house’s creaks and groans and think of tales that could have happened back then. She told those anecdotes to her father but now he was no longer there to hear to them.
“Are you listening to me?” Mrs. Giles bellowed as she pursed her colored lips.
Janet only nodded and stopped tapping her fingers against her seat as she regarded her mother with a bored glance. Her mother was lecturing her about how she should be planning her future and applying for the colleges that she had suggested. It wasn’t as if Janet didn’t think about the future. In fact, she intended on attending a well known music college and then dive into the music industry of orchestra and strings. Her mind then began to drift aimlessly as she imagined herself playing in a famous orchestra and enchanting the crowd with a beguiling violin solo.
“Janet!” scolded her mother, crossing her arms over her chest. “I don’t even see why I tried talking to you. You never listen anymore. It just goes through one ear and out the other.”
With that said Mrs. Giles shook her head and stormed out the room. Since there was music on Janet’s mind and nothing else to do that evening, she grabbed her backpack and headed out the door to practice. After leaving the house, Janet walked across all that was left of her estate and arrive at a flowing creek, surrounded by reaching trees. When she was eight years old and mad at her parents for some childish reason she couldn’t remember, Janet had ran from the house and had found the brook. Ever since then, either she had gone there to blow of her teenage angst or more commonly to practice her instrument. No one ever went there and it seemed like a perfect place for her to be herself.
Janet drew her violin from her pack and placed it under her chin before stroking its strings seductively with her bow. Melodic notes emitted from the violin and started to flow through the crisp air like a scent carried by the wind as she closed her eyes and let the music take over her every thought. Little did she know that a fair face was peaking up at her through the blue opaque of the creek, watching her with a smile in its eyes. In fact, these eyes had watched her since she had first come across the brook and had seen her grow up and progress with her violin. At first, her notes were utterly horrible but as she got better, the creature began to enjoy the teen’s music more and more.
Janet’s chords began its crescendo but before she could finish her soft trough, she stopped and wiped the tears burning her cheeks before sitting against one of the towering trees. She still couldn’t end the song.
“Finish it.” Came a voice around her, sounding somewhat acute.
She abruptly turned; almost flinging her violin across the creek, as she looked for where the voice had came from. She found none and figured it was just her adolescent imagination although she was more than a little spooked when it repeated its command.
“Who’s there?” She asked loudly, standing up to her full height.
Thoughts began to run through Janet’s mind like a racetrack as she thought of the possibilities of who had spoken. It could just be a neighbor, she pondered, but there were no other houses near by. Then the notion that it could be a stalker or a rapist caused fear to grip her utter being. Janet stumbled slightly before bending down to grab a rather large pebble incase she would be attacked. She looked behind her and when she turned back, she saw an elegantly dressed man sitting upon one of the immense rocks near the shore. His hair, she noted, was a strange shade of blonde, as if it had been bleached by the water for hundreds of years. The young man watched her with astounding grey eyes, the color of thunderstorms that brought chills up her spine and a shiver down her frame. He delicately raised brow at her and placed his palms against the flat of the rock behind him in a sort of lazy fashion.
“Are you,” he asked drowsily as he smiled, “going to hit me with that?”
She was too stunned to reply and if doing anything, Janet clutched her stone more tightly in her fist.
“I was.” she retorted with as much charisma as she could gather.
The man then grinned at her a toothy smile before opening his arms out wide and insisting, “Then takes your best shot, madam.”
As if I needed an invitation, she thought before she chucked the pebble at him with a good amount of speed, being how scared she was. The pebble would have hit him square in the head if he had not dispersed into water and slid back into the creek. A full minute of shock passed and she neared the creek on her hands and knees, peering into the water with curious but frightened eyes.
At first, Janet’s reflection was all that stared back at her but as she began to look harder, she could see that her reflection was fashioning itself to look like the strange man’s face.
“Hello again.” he said as if nothing had happening.
Janet’s eyes retracted in surprise and she jumped back, hitting her head against a tree therefore causing her head to spin and grow fuzzy. With a splash of water, the baffling stranger surfaced and looked at Janet with concern etched into his fair face.
“Are you okay?” he asked softly as he began to wade near her.
“G-get away from me, you freak!” Janet exclaimed and staggered back, grabbing a hold of her knapsack and her violin in a flurry.
The words sunk in deep and the stranger looked at her as years of rejection reflected in his eyes. Before she could even see the pain in his expression, she high tailed out of there as fast as her legs could take her.
Fosse-Grimm sunk back into the creek with a sigh and perched himself upon a chair of algae along the bottom of the water. A small carp, no bigger than his index finger, swam toward him and nuzzled his scaly side against the man’s cheek in a comforting manner.
“That went well, didn’t it?” He mumbled to the fish that looked at him curiously with fishy-eyes.
Fosse stroked the carp sympathetically knowing he couldn’t understand what he was saying before sighing once again and sending a torrent of bubbles to the top of the water. He knew that he had made a mistake of revealing himself to her but he couldn’t stand staying in a confined creek for so long without any contact from the outside world. Fosse was just lonely and he may have just lost the one person whom he could communicate with.
“Well…At least I have you.” he smiled but the carp just looked at him again before swimming off to do what-ever fresh water fish did.
Janet slammed the door to her room and began to pace furiously across the carpet. She threw her things onto floor and sat on her bed as she tried to forget all that had just occurred, water-man and all. But that didn’t work. The teen even tried to play her violin but her mind was too perplexed on the events that had happened at the creek to play the simplest song. What was he, she thought, a mermaid. Janet dismissed the idea because the man didn’t have a tail or gills. Since she couldn’t think of any other possible creatures, Janet sat down on her squeaky computer chair and began to search through the infamous world-wide-web. After a long period of time searching through Google, she came across a bunch of articles on fabled water sprites. Although it was interesting to look at, she didn’t find what she was looking for. It wasn’t until she typed in, “men in brooks,” that she found what she was investigating. Besides the erotic pages, she discovered a site on Germanic folklore. Pulling herself closer to the bright screen, Janet began to read.
“Nix- a male water spirit who usually leads women and children to their deaths, using enchanting songs played on his violin. Appearances and malevolence vary. Typically found in small bodies of water. Some legends depict that if offered a black animal, three drops of blood and Scandinavian vodka, he would teach you his charmed manner of music.”
Janet leaned back into her chair and pressed a hand to her forehead and thought about the likelihood of the man being a nix. It was probable and if so, he could help her improve her skills on the strings. It could be the push she needed to make it in the violin world and brand a statement but she was talking about a man living in her brook. It was ludicrous but after what had happened, Janet deemed anything was possible.