NEW STORY: My Name is Minette, Chapter One: Minette Is Being Driven Mad

(Hi, readers! This next story is still fantasy, but set in Ye Olden Times. I am turning this story into my Senior Honors Thesis, and hope to publish it as a full-length book. I hope you enjoy! Sincerely, Theo.)

MINETTE did not have a bad life.

No, it was quite the opposite: she had a roof and four walls, a loving family, delicious meals, and a stable future laid out for her.

It was the little particularities that made it all so unbearable for her; the secrets she carried with her that she could not reveal on pain of death, the lies that built up and up and up.

She loved her family, she honestly did. She loved Maw’s crass jokes, how reliable and true Paw was. Her brother Rhys had a gentle heart, an irremovable sweetness, and a quick wit; Irma, her sister, was strong. Strong and spirited. Irma was born blind, and now, as a wiry twelve-year old, she was a loud talker, a fast runner, and a quick learner. Irma had a bright future ahead of her.

Even their homestead felt like a member of the family to Minette: the thatched roof, the sun-bleached boards on the walls, the little hallway upstairs with the circle window that spilled glittering dust motes in the late afternoon sun. The rug in the kitchen that was so worn down Minette couldn’t remember what the pattern or even the color used to be. The house groaned and creaked, but in a reliable way, in a way that spoke of the generations upon generations of lives that had been lived here.

And Minette did not want to be one of them.

You see, despite all the cuddly warmth of her little family and the reliability of the old house, Minette could not speak. Minette could not move. She couldn’t even breathe.

Every day, her family called her Morton, or, even worse, Morty. 

They talked about her with free lease, completely unaware of how it bothered her: our Morton is so strong! He’s built like an ox! He’ll manage the smithy just fine one day!

Minette hated it all to the point of madness. She felt like a perpetual actor, forced to read lines from a script, lines that were so wrong, so different from her reality. And the worst part was that her family, her whole world, they only knew the character, not the actor, and they loved him. They couldn’t tell the role didn’t fit. Minette didn’t think they would love her the same as him.

No one ever seemed to notice the fact that Minette was always onstage and in costume. Minette supposed that it was a good thing that her family never noticed anything wrong, never questioned her. If they did, she had absolutely no idea what she would say. She wouldn’t even know where to begin.


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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