My Name is Minette, Chapter Thirteen: Lucy

Minette paused in her reading that night when a hand knocked softly at her door. Rhys peeked his head in, a question on his face.

Minette smiled at him, scooting over and patting the narrow cot beside her. Rhys came and plopped himself down on her bed hard enough to make it sag to the floor.

“What’s going on? Are you alright?” Minette asked him. She peered at his face, trying to see if he was any redder, or had any pocks. “Do you feel sick?”

“I’m fine, Maw,” Rhys teased, batting her hand away. His knee jiggled, making the whole room vibrate with his barely-contained energy. “I just wanted to talk.”

It was her own face and its redness that Minette really had to worry about. “About what?” she asked.

“You,” he said, as if it were obvious. “Are you okay?”

Minette forced a smile. “I’m fine.”

“You’ll be alright with the smithy,” Rhys said, offering her a pat on the shoulder for support. He had such misplaced faith in her. “You’re just as good as Paw.”

It was the opposite of what Minette wanted to hear. “So are you, in your own way.”

“Yes, but this isn’t about me,” Rhys said, and damn it, he was a smart kid, was an arrow aiming for the heart. “Are you scared about meeting someone?”

Of course he’d dig deep and hit a vein of truth. Of course that squinty gaze of his would see right through her.

Minette swallowed down all of her feelings and threw up a nice, big wall, just like the ones circling Droz.

“The truth is, I am,” she said, an authentic wobble in her voice.

Rhys shook his head. “You’re daft,” he said. “Lucy is gonna love you.”

Minette’s heart jumped around in her chest, the blood leaving her head. She swallowed. “Lucy?”

“She’s the butcher’s daughter,” he said, completely frank, unaware of how queasy she felt just hearing about this. “Maw and Paw have been talking about her for weeks when you’re not around. It’s obvious why.”

Minette forced a smile. “I hope you’re right.”

“Of course I am,” Rhys said with a grin. “Don’t tell them I told you. Now, will you stop moping?”

“I’ll try my best.”


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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