My Name is Minette, Chapter Sixteen: The Other Side of Town

The mines were on the opposite side of town, set into the hills and crags just beneath the walls like orange and brown canyons. Dark caverns stretched underground for miles, yawning, black mouths opening out from the hillside.

They headed toward Main Street, which was a straight shot through Droz and out the other side to the hills full of copper.

When they got close, though, Paw’s nose grew just as wrinkled as hers.

Main Street was the center of life in Droz, and apparently all that life was all out in the streets today.

The heat pushed crowds into its shady streets and pubs, food and drink in high demand. Bodies and donkeys and horses crowded one another, elbows bumping elbows and shoulders hitting shoulders, creating a density like that of cranberries shoved into a bucket to be smushed into juice.

“I know another way,” Paw grunted, jerking on Lumpy’s reins, directing the horse away from the loud, overlapping shouts and cries of peddlers and hagglers on Main Street. He took them on a zig-zagging route, moving farther and farther east until they were on the edge of Droz.

Minette had never been to this part of the city before in her life. She sat up straighter, holding her hand up as like a visor and squinting into the sun, peering at the buildings strewn about.

This neighborhood felt abandoned. Instead of cobblestones and pavers and bricks, this part of town was dotted with listing huts with gaps in the thatch; warped-wood, grey wooden buildings; and scraggly, unkempt vegetation creeping along dirt roads.

They were close to a run-down section of the wall, black with soot and shiny with moss, close enough that the entire area was cast in a permanent shadow.

They passed a few people walking in the road, wandering in the fields, lurking on porches. Each and every one of them stared up at Minette as she passed, stopping in what they were doing. She was a spectacle, something new, and the tired mistrust was apparent on their lined faces.

It made her feel itchy, sweaty, like eyes were sticking to the small of her back along with the humidity.

They were outsiders. They weren’t welcome here.


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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