Leo the Mer-Guy! Chapter Ten: Magic

“Why don’t we go around the circle and introduce ourselves,” the rainbow-haired person suggested. “I’m Ash. They/them pronouns.”


The backpack kid was next. “Ruby. She/her.”


There was a very tall person with long, straight, black hair and makeup like they were a member of the band KISS. “Onyx. They/them.”


Next, there was a kid who didn’t look so different from Leo. They offered him a lopsided smile. “Juan. He/him.”


Leo also met Tinashe, Yasmin, and Ji-fu.


It was a lot of names and a lot of people all at once, but Leo was really hoping to get to know them all much better.


Much, much, better.


He wasn’t alone here after all.


He wasn’t the only gay kid, wasn’t the only trans kid. Here he was, huddled in the woods with a group of people that understood him. Not all of them looked just like parents and society thought a boy or a girl should look.


It was awesome.


Oh, and they were all clearly super weird. Like the actual weirdest.


Leo had never felt more at home.


Ash explained that they were a secret order of kids who all lived in the neighborhood. They went through the agenda, including discussing whose house would host the next meeting. Juan said his parents hadn’t finished cleaning the basement, but that it would probably work for next week. Tinashe offered to bring snacks since her mom worked at CostCo.


Ash also explained to Leo that they were all queer, they were all witches, and that they practiced magic. That this field and this pond was where the magic was strongest.


That was something new.


Leo had never really had a goth or an emo phase. He’d never worn crystals to school and chanted spells at home. He’d seen plenty of theater kids at his last school who did, though, and he wasn’t one to judge, he just didn’t know if it was for him.


But he liked them all enough and was lonely enough to start embracing his inner witch. It couldn’t be hard, right?


He hoped he didn’t have to wear black all the time, though. It wasn’t really his color.


“So, Leo,” Ji-fu said, twirling her braids around her finger, “you interested in joining us?”


“Oh, yeah!” Leo exclaimed. “I mean, if it’s cool with you guys.”


Ruby offered a thumbs up. Ash nodded. “You need to go through initiation, then,” Ash said. “If you’re serious.”


Leo nodded emphatically enough for his bangs to fall in his face. “Yes. I am. Super serious.”


“Okay, then,” Ash said, the gleeful smile on their face illuminated eerily by the orange flames. “Let us begin the ceremony.”


Theo Poling is a Creative Writing and Arts double major at the University of Michigan. In their free time, Theo enjoys fostering cats, baking, and going on hikes. Theo is transgender, nonbinary, and bisexual, and is passionate about representing LGBTQ people in positive ways in genre fiction. Theo's series, We Exist! is a weekly serial that publishes short story chapters about empowered queer protagonists in science fiction and fantasy settings, where queer people have previously been excluded. Check out the newest installment of We Exist! every Thursday.

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