My Name Is Minette, Chapter Ten: The Lecture

The table went silent. Minette waited for someone to say something, anything, but there was nothing. Even the forks and spoons had stilled.

“She just needs more time,” Minette spoke up. “She can learn just the same as any of us can. But sometimes you’ve got to be patient.

When Maw said “Morton…” in That Tone of Voice, Minette had no choice but to shut her mouth and look up at Maw. “Enough about that, then.”

Minette knew what that meant. She held back a sigh. “Yes, Maw?”

“Paw tells me you’re doing well at the smithy,” Maw said. It wasn’t a compliment.

Just get to the point, Minette wanted to scream. No need to draw out the agony. She knew this was about more than just hammering metal. This was about the Good Son they wanted.

“Yes,” Minette said, proud of how her voice barely trembled.

“We’re thinkin’ of your future,” Paw butted in, popping a bread roll into his mouth whole. “I’m getting old.”

“I know you are,” Minette said. She thought again of his froggy, chipped voice, of how his whiskers were more white than brown. His aging appearance was another reminder of her future–and how the little world she inhabited was soon to change in a big way.

Paw frowned. Rhys stomped on her big toe under the table.

“Rhys,” Maw said, spoon in hand, without even looking at him.

His foot retreated.

“Anyway,” Paw continued, clearing his throat, “it’s time you weren’t my apprentice, but my partner. I’ll teach you how to run the business by yourself, and you’ll take over. We’ll take you out courting to find you the right woman. She’ll move in with us, and start keeping house soon after that.”

Minette couldn’t help but laugh at all he left unsaid. Minette would take over the smithy when he was dead. Her future dainty, submissive wife would take over the house when Maw was dead. Couldn’t they see how absurd it was to speak so frankly about their own untimely demises?

Irma huffed. “Can we talk about something else?” she asked, echoing Minette’s thoughts. “May I be excused?”

“No,” Maw and Paw said, in unison, answering both questions. Irma slouched in her seat.

Minette nudged Irma’s knee. Irma hated all this talk about death even more than Minette did–her future was just as uncertain. Lots of townsfolk talked about the blind girl down the way, but it was the things they didn’t say that gave away their true feelings. They just didn’t know what to do with her. Minette knew that feeling, that dread, and she knew that Irma must be feeling like she was toeing the edge of a great, dark, chasm.


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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