Spirit of the Wolf Character Short: Nati’s First Heartbreak

Coming out of eleventh grade pre-calculus, Nati turned to look down the corridor, searching among the sea of bodies for the one face she knew better than her own. Rhonda, her best friend for the past ten years, was Nati’s opposite in every way. Ebony skin contrasted with Nati’s honey complexion. Rhonda wore goddess braids that hung to her full hips, while Nati was athletically built and wore her silky hair in a pixie cut.

When she spotted Rhonda, Nati groaned inwardly. Isaiah was in his soccer uniform and slides, cleats in one hand. He leaned in to say something. Rhonda laughed in that way Nati could hear in her mind even over the hundreds of voices and footsteps of the other students in the hall. She spotted Nati then and waved wildly like one of those crazy windsocks that enticed people into car dealerships. Plastering on a fake smile, Nati waved back.

Outside the building ten minutes later, she couldn’t take the whispers and giggles any longer. She started towards home.   

“Nati, wait!” Rhonda came running up behind her. “What are you doing?”

“I have things to do. Standing around watching you giggle at Isaiah isn’t on the agenda.” It came out harsher than Nati meant it to, and she silently kicked herself.

Rhonda stopped and grabbed Nati’s arm, forcing her to turn. “Okay, what is your problem? Every time he’s around you start acting like a bitch.”

Nati glared and wrenched out of Rhonda’s grip. “No, you’re rude and I’m not your third wheel.”

Rhonda crossed her arms and squinted one eye, which meant she was studying Nati like a math problem. “Nah, fam. That ain’t it. Oh my God, do you like him? That’s why you’re mad?”

“What? No!”

“Why wouldn’t you tell me? I’m you’re best friend! If I knew—”

“I don’t like him.”

“It’s not a big deal, Nat. I’m not that into him. I’ll back off.”

Nati huffed out a breath and covered her face with both hands. She’d known for months now that this moment was coming, and she’d dreaded it every day. When she pulled her hands away, her face chilled where the remnants of her tears remained. “Rhonda, I don’t like Isaiah, but yes, seeing you together makes me jealous. There, I said it.”

Rhonda’s shoulders relaxed. “Come on, girl. It’s not like any dude will come between us. Chicks before—”

“It’s not that,” Nati mumbled.

“Well then what? I don’t und—”

“I have feelings for you.” Nati looked Rhonda in the eye. “More than friendship feelings.”

Rhonda’s mouth hung open, and she stared at Nati, speechless. Nati felt her own face crumple and pressure built in her throat as if someone were squeezing her windpipe. And her heart—cracks were splintering through it. Little by little pieces fell away until it was just a pile of rubble in her chest.

Nati ran.

~*~

The next morning, Nati buried herself under the covers and pillows when her brother Asim knocked on the door.    

“Nat, let’s go! We’re gonna be late!”

If she ignored him, he’d just barge in, and she didn’t want him to see her all red-eyed and swollen-nosed. “Not going. I’m sick.”

He came into the room. “Bullshit. I’d feel it if you were sick—twin privilege. And how come Rhonda’s not here? You two have a fight?”

In her haze of humiliation and misery, Nati forgot to factor in that Rhonda always picked her up in the mornings. “No.”

The blanket was ripped out of her grip, and Asim wrestled the pillow away from her. “What the hell, Nati? What’s wrong with you?”

“Asim, just leave me alone, please. I don’t want to talk about it. I can’t…” Her throat seized up as a new wave of tears began.

Spindly arms wrapped around her, and her head was pulled to the crook of Asim’s neck.

“Sis, what happened? Whatever it is, you can tell me.”

Could she? If losing Rhonda was devastating, the same reaction from Asim would strike her dead on the spot. This was the only secret she’d ever kept from him. Nati cried for long moments, anticipating what Asim might say. If she couldn’t trust him, there wasn’t a single person on the planet she could. “I told Rhonda… that… I… have feelings for her.”

Nati waited for Asim to tense up, to pull away. He kept hugging her and rubbing slow circles on her back. After a minute, he said, “I guess she didn’t take it well?”

“What? I don’t know. She didn’t say anything and then I kind of ran away.”  

She felt Asim shake his head. After a while, he said, “Okay, stay here.”

“Why?” Her voice rose an octave. “What are you about to do?” Nati clung to Asim’s wrist as he tried to get up.

“Nothing. Just stay here.” He left the room.

Had she been wrong about being able to trust him? But that was impossible. The main reason she hadn’t told him before was because she hadn’t wanted to accept the truth herself. With no hope left, Nati pulled the covers back up and curled into a ball.

A few minutes later, the door opened. When she peeked out, Asim was kicking it shut. He had a tray with two mugs and two foil packets that looked like toaster cakes. His laptop was snuggled under one arm. “I told Jaddi we both ate something bad at school yesterday. You know he doesn’t trust the lunches. And I brought cocoa and strawberry cakes. Scoot over.”

Nati’s eyes began to leak again. “You didn’t have to—”

“Shut up. What are we watching? Netflix or anime?” Asim sat and swung his legs up onto the bed. “And don’t worry about Rhonda. You probably just caught her off guard. She’ll probably be knocking on the door after school.”

She hoped he was right as she lay her head on his shoulder and accepted one of the steaming mugs.

Launch Day

Today marks my initiation as an indie author with the release of my novella Spirit of the Wolf. The process has been fun, instructive, and a little scary at times, but also exciting. There have been some mistakes, but I’ve also learned a lot about the process. The biggest lesson has been to push past self-doubt and second guessing. So it’s definitely been a growth process.

Please check out the story! And if you’d like to support my effort, sharing the link and leaving nice reviews are always more than appreciated! Thank you, and enjoy!

Firsts and A New Journey

Is it just me or do most people think of sex when they’re asked about a first time for something? Even if it’s just my gutter brain, first sexual experiences are a great showcase of all the terror and wonderfulness of any other “first.” Terror because leading up to the event, there are all these thoughts:
What if it hurts? What if I do something wrong? What if I hate it? And recently, what if the condom breaks and I get knocked up and have to travel to another state to get an abortion and hope my spying neighbors don’t call the police on me? Firsts can fraught with vulnerability, literally laying yourself bare and hoping for kindness at least if not love.
But even thoughts of wonderful results can be scary.
What if it’s amazing? What if do everything right? What if I love it? What if the condom breaks and I get knocked up and live in a state where I have options and I decide I’m cool with having a baby right now?
How can those positives induce fear? Because they lead to expectations that may be challenging to live up to. And even if the expectations are met, the bar might keep going up to a point where the expectations might be unreachable. That’s a huge “maybe” however, and usually way to far in the future to be worth worrying about before you even get the initial act out of the way.
I am currently preparing to take a leap to do something for the first time, and it is honestly terrifying. Instead of just jumping in I slowed myself down and did some planning and preparation, but that also has allowed for a lot of time for all those fear-based questions to arise. Funnily while I thought I was moving forward, I realized the other day that I had left a major component of the project undone. A bit of procrastination goes a long way toward self-sabotage.
I am back on track now, and I set things up so that even if I get cold feet, I’m committed. No backing out now. No matter what the outcome is (which I expect to be good anyway), just getting it done will already be a win.

Queer Sci Fi Annual Flash Fiction Anthology: Clarity

Clarity (noun)
Four definitions to inspire writers around the world and an unlimited number of possible stories
to tell:
1) Coherent and intelligible
2) Transparent or pure
3) Attaining certainty about something
4) Easy to see or hear

Clarity features 300-word speculative flash fiction stories from across the rainbow spectrum,
from the minds of the writers of Queer Sci Fi.

Every year, Queer Sci Fi runs a one-word theme contest for 300 word flash fiction stories, and
then chooses 120 of the best for the annual anthology.

This year, my story, “Bathtub Gin” was selected. Please check it out!

Fright Before Christmas Anthology

It’s the most wonderful time of year…or is it?

Christmas Eve is a night of mystery and magic, but not always in ways we expect. Things lurk in the shadows and they’re not the least bit jolly or merry. Let’s just say some presents are better left unopened.

‘Tis the season to be screaming along with our thirteen tales of holiday horrors. Ghosts. Monsters. Demons. And more!

This Christmas, be careful what you wish for…

Author List:
Richard Ankers
Jackie Horsfall
Boyd Reynolds
Lea Storry
Ally Mathews
Laura Pauling
Ty Drago
Jessica Bayliss
Judith Graves
Andrea Stanet
Patrick Hueller
Dax Varley
Medeia Sharif

Pre-Order Sale and Book Links:
Goodreads

Pre-Order ebook sale for $1.99 – regular price $3.99
Amazon
B&N
iBooks
I’m very excited to be a part of this anthology. It promises to be lots of fun!