Where was the beginning? Minette couldn’t tell you. She couldn’t track down any convenient, sparky “inciting incident,” couldn’t choke up while talking about a highly specific and traumatic childhood moment.
She’d always been like this.
And she’d always felt alone.
Minette had never met anyone that remotely operated like her. She’d never seen herself in someone else’s eyes. Not even sweet Rhys. No one thought and re-thought and triple-thought normal things the way she did. No one thought their clothes were weird or the body was weird or that something should be different.
Everybody seemed so happy in their skin. So unquestioning. Everything was Right and Good and Made Sense.
Everything except Minette.
But why? Why her–more specifically, why no one else? Minette asked herself this every day. Why was Minette the only one that saw the world as a stage, and not a welcoming one? Why did she look in the mirror and look away just as quickly?
And why did no one else give a single fly’s fart?
These were the thoughts that plagued Minette every morning like clockwork.
If there was one thing she was proud of, it was her reliable schedule: wake up, suffer in silent agony, read a bit, have breakfast, go to work with Paw, have dinner, stew in bed in an existential crisis, pass out, repeat.
That was where Minette lay in this very moment, staring up at the ceiling of her little attic room as roosters shrieked outside like the little blockheads they were. The clock ticking on her nightstand told her she only had about four and a half minutes before Paw would start shouting outside her window for her to come down and move her ass.
She sat up, her hair falling in front of her face. It was ratty and dull but it was long. So blessedly long. She carded her fingers through it, knowing soon Paw would take a knife to it and hack it all off. Then she’d be left with a nightmarish haircut that looked like a butchered coconut. She’d be indistinguishable from all the empty-headed squire boys and chest-puffing apprentices running around town with their muddy boots and loose-fitting tunics. It was her nightmare.
She shook her head, casting out all the annoying, flea-like thoughts. Minette didn’t want to be bitter or sad or grow into some gnarled, hunched curmudgeon screaming at kids in the street. But she couldn’t help the sinking spirals her brain wove her into.
She picked up the worn, doggy-eared copy of Edric’s Tale on her nightstand. She’d been reading a few pages every day to make it last. It was her thirty-seventh re-read.