My Name is Minette, Chapter Three: Minette and the Dress

When Minette had purchased the book, her father had shook his head and called it a waste and a farce. That all that fluffy nonsense would cloud her head.

Maybe he was right. The stories in the little novel did fill up her head. They set her to daydreaming, sighing as rainbow-colored visions filled her head. She could see Edric on his tall horse, galloping into the countryside without a care in the world, his only obligation serving his people.

“For justice!” he would scream, brandishing a shimmering sword given to him by a naked lady in a pond. He’d fight and swashbuckle and charm. Sir Edric had seen far-off lands, bewildering beasts, and fair maidens.

He’d been on breathtaking adventures, encountered heinous villains. He wasn’t tied down to any place or anything except helping other people. Everyone loved him, wherever he went. His valor and honor were unquestionable.

Minette could hardly imagine a life like that. All that freedom. Making decisions for yourself. Having people see you as you were. Seeing new sights every day. All Minette had ever seen was the walled-in town she lived in.

It wasn’t even that Droz-Upon-Wooton was all that bad, really–

“Mort! Morty! You’re late! Daylight’s dying, boy!”

And there was Paw, right on schedule.

Minette poked her head out the window. “Coming!” she screamed.

She got dressed, pulling on her scratchy shirt and hopping into her saggy pants. She grabbed her tool belt and saddlebag and slid down the rickety balustrade into the kitchen. She hadn’t even crossed the threshold when Maw’s voice barked at her, saying, “Oi, Mort, what I have I told you about sliding down the bannister? You’re a right sack of potatoes! If you fix it, you break it!”

“If you fix it, you break it” was one of Maw’s many backwards mantras. It was better to just nod than correct her. Minette had tried that only once. Maw was like a fat and loveable marionette, who reliably waved a spoon at you and fed you chunky soup and told the grossest stories you’d ever heard.

She was more than just a good Maw. She was a talented seamstress, though she did more as a hobby than a vocation. Right now, she was working on a dress for Irma’s tenth birthday. The tenth was a special occasion in their country of Treesia, a rare celebration with cake and candles and mirth and no talk of the plague or of taxes. And Irma was growing like a weed, blossoming into a headstrong young woman. Maw was making Irma’s birthday special in a way Minette had never experienced. 

That dress. 

That glittering, blue dress, made with a care and art that Minette thought turned Maw from a seamstress into some kind of magical fairy who’d waved her wand at a pile of fabric and turned it into a dream.


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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