My Name is Minette, Chapter Nine: The Dreaded Dinner Table

That night, Minette sat at the dinner table already dreading Paw and Maw’s imminent interrogation. She didn’t want to hear them call her a boy or a suitor. She wanted to ignore her fate. They were all huddled around their little round table, knees knocking, toes fighting. 

Rhys was humming to himself, gnawing on his porridge spoon, and Irma was devouring her food like a mouse who’d found its way into the cookie jar. Minette hid her anxiety by chastising her siblings’ manners as usual and teasing them as much as she could without starting a ruckus.

Maw and Paw were, predictably, surveying the table and its inhabitants like a king and queen on a haughty dais. They noticed any green beans hidden under a napkin, any elbow pinching of an irritating sibling.

This evening, try as Minette might, each child received their time in the sweltering spotlight.

Irma came first. Paw leveled his molten stare at her, and she looked up, swallowing, even though her eyes couldn’t see it.

“Irma,” Paw said, in that deceptively quiet, even tone. “You went to the shop with Rhys today.”

“Yes, Paw,” Irma said. Minette glanced at Rhys and found him observing his peas with altogether too much fascination. Uh-oh.

“Well? How did it go, then?”

“It was… fine,” Irma said, with just a squick of hesitation. “Rhys was there the whole time. He helped me count the copper Drunes.”

Paw’s head swiveled like an owl’s to peer at Rhys. “Is that true?”

Rhys nodded, his moppy hair falling into his eyes. “Yes,” he said. “We got the bread and the flour, like Maw asked. Irma did great, Paw. You should really let her–”

“Really?” Paw interrupted, and Rhys’ jaw clamped shut. “I should let her do what? Overpay for Thom’s clumpy flour again?”

Irma opened her mouth to respond, but Paw dropped a bunch of copper-colored Drunes onto the middle of the table before she could say anything. They rang out and clattered against one another. “You gave me two Drunes short. Two Drunes we could have saved longer. Two Drunes your father worked hard for.”

Irma lowered her head. “I’m sorry.”

“This is why you can’t be doing things like this, Irma. You’re just not like the rest of us.”

Minette flinched. She looked to Maw for any protest, any resolution, but Maw was silent.

“It was my fault,” Rhys interjected quickly. “I was the one who should’ve–”

“Quiet,” Paw barked.


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.

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!