My Name is Minette, Chapter Eighteen: Another World (Final)

They sang along with the old man, raising their arms to the sky and moving their hips to the music. Their movements were free, liquid, completely unrestrained. The music possessed them.

They were free.

Paw swore, nudging Lumpy to move faster. The horse snorted, bothered, but obeyed, moving at a faster clip. With a tight jaw, Paw spit onto the front steps of the building as they passed. The patrons didn’t blink an eye.

Minette couldn’t look away, either, maintaining eye contact with the old man until the building and its music vanished out of sight.

“Paw, what was that place?” Minette asked.

“Droz’s only sin,” Paw growled with a startling vitriol. “That place is for freaks and thieves. Everyone knows that place is dangerous. Our walls are to keep riff-raff out–they don’t belong in here with us. If they can come in, they can get the bees out.”

“Oh. That’s… terrible,” Minette said, trying very hard to sound disgusted.

“You’re damn right,” Paw snapped. “Just keep working, marry a nice woman, give her a good son, and keep your head down, and you won’t end up like any of them.”

Minette didn’t respond. She turned around, trying to catch another glimpse of the mysterious establishment, but it was gone.


This signals the end of part one of My Name is Minette, and also my final submission as a blogger for Arts, Ink., as I am graduating in May! I have just completed the novel as my honor’s thesis, and hope to query it to agents and eventually get it published.

I would like to thank Joe and all the lovely folks at Arts, Ink. for all their support and for making a dream come true.

You can find my other works at, and my student org at

Thank you,


My Name is Minette, Chapter Seventeen: Something New

She looked to Paw and his clenched jaw. “Where are we? Do you know where we’re going?”

“Of course I do,” Paw grit out. “We’re out in the sticks. It must just be a little bit further.”

Minette shook her head at Paw’s stubbornness. The only thing they stood to lose if they turned back and went another way was Paw’s pride. Minette stared straight ahead, hoping the hills would rise up over the next turn, guiding them safely to the mines. 

Droz didn’t feel like Droz here. Like this place was something unspoken–something not to speak about. And it was true, in a way—Minette had never been taught that Droz was anything other than a merry little community, safe in its walls.

Seeing something that contrasted that so aggressively made a cold feeling sit in her gut. How little did she know about the world beyond her front door?

A new building caught Minette’s attention. This one had a life dissimilar to the shacks and homes around it. It was two-story, brick, with a broad porch that wrapped around the building. All of the windows were open, and music, noise, and voices echoed out from the premises.

On the porch, a couple of old men with sunburned, sagging skin and bright white hair sat nursing their beer bellies in rocking chairs. One of the men had a banjo. He played a song that was like nothing Minette had ever heard before. It was twangy and morose, but oddly upbeat: she felt like she could weep over a dead lover and beat the bees out of a bad guy while listening to it.

The banjo man caught Minette’s eye. Her breath caught in her throat. Instead of glaring at her, or chasing her away like she thought he might, he smiled over at her, gap-toothed, and played even faster, singing along with a raspy croon. His eyes never left Minette’s, even as his fingers flew across the banjo strings.

Some other people came out from inside the building, and Minette couldn’t tell if they were boys or girls. People without shirts on. People with their shapes hidden under cloaks. They were of all heights and weights, skin colors and origins. They dressed like bandits and street workers, bartenders and night-walking women. They smoked and spit into spittoons.

They were something utterly new to Minette.

New, and not terrifying. No, they piqued Minette’s curiosity.

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.

My Name is Minette, Chapter Fifteen: The Promise

She felt like a specimen on a biologist’s desk about to be dissected, insides revealed.

But she was being selfish.

It wasn’t all about her. It wasn’t about her hair or her clothes or what she wanted. It was about Rhys, and Irma, too, and Maw and Paw. It was about the house and the animals and the smithy and the copper awnings covering businesses all over town. It was about a legacy and a promise.

A promise Minette had been held to since the day she was born. A promise she could not break.

She blew out her candle, sinking into a collection of nightmares filled with disembodied hands touching her, pulling her taller and wider, ballrooms burning away, mirrors breaking when she passed them.




That morning, she awoke on time, ignoring Edric’s Tale on her nightstand. She went downstairs, kissed Maw on the cheek, and grabbed a chunk of goat cheese. She ate it while sitting in the back of the cart, watching Lumpy’s tail flick persistent flies away.

It was even hotter today than yesterday, and the whole world seemed to groan under it, Minette included. The cicadas were loud this year, and their cries sang of exhaustion. They made Minette feel like she was permanently caught between sleep and wakefulness.

They were their only cart large enough to haul from the mines, which also happened to be their shittiest cart. Minette felt straw and dirt and nails poke her in the butt, and the slightest pothole or pile of horse shit sent her flying. She held onto the cart with a white-knuckled fist, chewing at the inside of her cheek and trying valiantly to block out any and all of her thoughts.

At the mines today, she would pick a nice big lode of copper to take to the smithy and demonstrate her skills to the town in a masterpiece of some kind, probably a fancy awning. This would start her partnership with her father. And that would turn her future from molten metal, shape-changing and uncertain, into something solid, hammered down. Inescapable.

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.”

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.”