My Name Is Minette, Chapter Fourteen: All Too Much

“Good.” Rhys patted her shoulder, an awkward little tap. “Um. Also, can I go to school when it’s your smithy? You know how Paw is, but you’re different.”

“I promise,” she said, watching him light up. She was about to explode. She needed to release her emotions, her stress, her fear, but she couldn’t do it in front of Rhys. She couldn’t let him know. She pushed him off the cot. “Now go to bed. Maw will pull your ear off if she finds you up.”

Rhys hopped up. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” he whispered in excitement, running out of the room. His footsteps faded, and another pair crept closer.

“You can come in now,” Minette said, and Irma slunk into the room.

“Morty…” Irma trailed off, hugging her arm. “Will you really look after us when–when Maw and Paw are gone?”

Minette’s throat went thick. She stood and took Irma by the shoulders. She watched Irma’s bleary eyes flit across the room in agitation. “Yes,” Minette said in a firm, steady voice, despite all that was roiling about inside her, “and you’ll be just fine. You’ll make your own way. We’ll prove them wrong. You’re a brave girl, Irma. And powerful.”

Irma gave her a lopsided smile. “Rhys was right. You’ll do great.”

Minette smiled back, flicking Irma’s nose. She needed Irma to get out of here so she could process the chopping block she was standing on in peace. Worries pounded like a headache behind her forehead: There was already a woman. Minette was already a suitor.  “Goodnight.”

“Goodnight.” Irma slipped out, and along with her, a choked, ragged breath pushed out of Minette. All her energy left her, and she deflated, sinking onto the bed, putting her head in her hands. She stared unseeingly at the floor.

There was already a woman. There was already a woman. The sentence repeated in her brain, over and over, like an alarm bell. Maw and Paw had already talked to another mother and father. Both sets of parents had had a conversation that amounted to, “yes, your child should procreate with my child. That sounds like a great idea.”


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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