Hello everyone, I am here with yet another new short story! (I seem to be going on a bit of a spree with them, don’t I?) Also, please check out my “Life in Different Aspects” to see all my other short stories written thus far.
This one is inspired by Katy Cannon after reading her “How To Write A Love Story.” which I really enjoyed. This story has many very similar ideas but with added in twists! I hope you like it, it took many afternoons to write (while “Carey” by Joni Mitchell played in the background). Also Kiran Millwood Hargrave (one of my favorite authors) stars as one of the characters along side her only YA book “The Deathless Girls.”. So here Ladies and Gentlemen, is my tale…
For everyone at Story Club, you help my stories come alive, but also for all my friends and family, you help me feel alive!
A mew echoes around the room.
“Goodbye Orion,” I say, bending down to stroke his soft shiny fur.
“Are you ready yet, Kyna?” calls Dad.
“Yes, coming,” I reply and jump into the car.
We arrive fifteen minutes later and I get out, bubbling with enthusiasm as I clutch “The Deathless Girls.” to my chest.
Last month at the end of Book Club it was agreed that I would choose the next read. Of course, I knew what to choose straight away.
“The Deathless Girls.” was the only book by Kiran Millwood Hargrave that I hadn’t read. Not to mention the fact that it was aimed more at my age group than some of her other stories.
I devoured it within a couple of weeks, loving the darker spin on her beautifully poetic language that made her writing style so unique. Reading her first ever YA book is like seeing my favorite author in a whole new light. I enjoy myself at Book Club, drawing out the themes of vampires, death, race, belonging, gypsies, and queer romance.
After it’s over Ofelia Sweeney comes over to me as I am talking to Mazal Quinlann, the best friend ever.
“Hey Kyna, nice choice of book,” Ofelia says.
“Thanks, I really enjoyed it,” I return, smiling happily.
“I have heard you like writing stories and I was wondering if you’d heard of the JAWC or Jane Austen Writing Competition, it’s a short story competition for teenagers and it’s open at the moment,” she explains.
“Oh, cool,” I say, thinking of when I read Pride And Prejudice a couple of years ago. “Thanks.”
After Ofelia leaves I google the JAWC up on my phone.
“Oh my god, Kiran Millwood Hargrave is one of the judges this year!” I exclaim, scrolling down the web page.
“Well, then you have to enter,” Mazal bubbles excitedly.
“Yeah!” I say, just as my face starts to fall. “No,” I groan as I come across the damning sentence ‘all entries must be written in the genre of romance’.
“What?” asks Mazal, concerned.
I show her the page.
“Oh,” she says, her voice suddenly flat. “Well, I guess you’ll have to polish up your romance writing skills,” she tells me, her face doesn’t look very hopeful though.
“Yeah, right,” I laugh sarcastically.
“You’ll be fine, don’t worry,” she says a little too dismissively.
I’m not sure. To me romance is basically dead. The only time I went out with a boy it was for six weeks and it turned out he was just using me to make another girl jealous. Not a good record.
“Let me help you, Kyna. you can’t turn this down simply because of your past,” she says, trying to cheer me up.
“Like you know much about romance,” I say, not unfairly. Mazal herself has never kissed a boy before, let alone gone out with one.
Mazal wrinkles her nose, clearly thinking the same as I am.
“Yeah, well, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t help you though, does it?” she retorts.
“True,” I sigh.
“Come on, we can do this,” says Mazal as she links her arm around mine.
“Fine, together,” I say, leaning my head on her shoulder.
“Together,” she promises fervently and gives my hand a little squeeze.
“Sooo,” Mazal begins, trailing off as she wriggles up the side of the sofa to get a better view of the google document.
I smile at her, trying to contain my laughter.
“What?” she asks, annoyed.
“Oh, nothing. You just looked funny doing that, that’s all,” I tell her truthfully.
“What, doing this?” she asks, starting to wriggle again.
I collapse, a heap of giggles and Mazal flashes me a wicked grin.
“Anyway, focus!” she says, serious once more.
I nod, trying to cover up the last of my laughter with a vain attempt at a cough.
“So, how’s the story coming along?” she asks.
“It’s not,” I moan, showing her the worst three sentences I have ever written in my life.
“Have you tried any writing exercises to help?” Mazal says, indicating to my book full of them.
“Tons,” I grumble, feeling quite downcast. “It’s like, I know what I want to happen. Soft, gentle Melvin Duran meets bossy, controlling Rochelle Laurence and they hate each other. They are then forced to work together at the school music concert and end up falling for each other, yet, when I am actually putting it on paper, I just can’t, it’s all… stuck,” I say for want of a better word.
“Well,” Mazal says slowly. “Maybe you’re fantasizing too much, maybe you need to be inspired by real people to get a feel for your characters’ personalities.”
I pause, thinking about what she has just said.
“You know what? I think you’re right,” I tell her, closing the laptop screen. “I can’t force a story to come to me, it just won’t work. I do need to be inspired.”
“Cool. Well, I’ll check in on you in four days and see how you’re doing then,” says Mazal, enclosing me in a loving hug.
She gets up to go before turning around and giving me a little wink.
I feel a glow fizzle inside and start writing at once.
Just chillin’ by the beach, reads Mazal’s WhatsApp status update. Cool, looks fun. Wish I could be there with you, I type back in my reply.
I stay there a moment, staring at the picture while the lyrics of “Carey” play in the background. I smile at Mazal’s grinning face against the backdrop of the swirling sea. The perfect Rochelle Laurence, I think to myself.
I’ve been rewriting my story over the last couple of days. I have changed the boy but decided to keep the girl, though I may change her personality. The story so far comes something like this: fun, lively Rochelle Laurence meets sky, quiet Fraser Kendall. At first they don’t think that much of each other. They then get trapped in a cellar during a game of truth or dare and whilst together they learn that they share a deep love of art. Together they enter the school art show and share their first kiss after their joint piece of artwork wins the school show.
My phone bleeps with a new message.
I wish you could be here too. I hope your story’s coming along. I can’t wait to read it when I get back from holiday. I know it’s gonna be awesome!
Thanks! I hope you think so, I reply, my heart beating with happiness and bursting with joy.
A bird twitters in the trees.
I smile at it distractedly, deep in thought as I write my story down.
Mazal’s sitting on the grass beside me, headphones in her ears as she silently reads what I have typed up thus far.
She stops scrolling and looks up at me. Mazal takes out her headphones.
“It’s much better,” she says.
“Thanks,” I reply as I glance back up at her.
“I mean, it could still do with a bit of work but I’ve left suggestions on the docs so you can look over them later,” she tells me.
“Ok, cool,” I say, putting down my pen.
Mazal glances quickly down at her phone.
“I’ve gotta go but I’ll see you tomorrow, yeah?” she says, packing up her things.
“Yeah. no, ‘course,” I tell her.
“Cool. My place, 4pm sharp,” she insists.
“I’ll be there,” I promise, waving her off.
“Tada!” Mazal cries, finally appearing from out of her bathroom.
“Wow,” I say, thinking how impressively stunning she looks in a deep red knee-length dress with a wide V neck.
I shake my head.
Sure, Mazal’s my best friend and hot as hell but I’m not actually attracted to her, am I? I can’t really be bi.
“Oh, thank you! You don’t look so bad yourself,” Mazal says.
I nod, speechless. My pale blue gown suddenly seems to be a mere shadow in the presence of Mazal’s dress.
We proceed to do each other’s hair and nails. I paint Mazal’s nails black to contrast her dress and she paints mine blue to match my gown. I get the shivers as Mazal combs and ties my hair.
When Mazal asks me to do hers I gulp, scared I will mess it up. However, I breathe and decide to take a leap of faith. I know what I am doing, I tell myself firmly. Once I’ve plaited her locks and piled them on top of her head it actually looks ok.
“Oh my god! That looks amazing, thank you so much,” she screams, throwing her arms around me.
I am shocked for a second and then gently hug her back, careful not to crease her dress.
We soon arrive at the party and Ofelia Sweeney rushes up to us.
“Hey guys! I’m so glad you could make it,” she cries happily.
“We wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Mazal reassures her.
“Yeah, epic party,” I tell her.
We go off to get drinks then join the rest of our friends on the dance floor. Yet, however much I waltz about or talk to people there is only one person who I cannot take my eyes off. Mazal Quinlann.
The trees rustle, whispering rumors amongst themselves. I ignore them, head down, as I desperately try to finish my story.
Mazal is reading more of the typed up version on her laptop. A clap of thunder booms in the distance. Mazal looks across at me wearily.
“We should go inside,” she says, a note of fear in her voice.
“No, just wait. I’m nearly done,” I tell her impatiently.
“Kyna,” she warns me.
Just then another clap of thunder rolls in just as a streak of lightning strikes the sky. The wind howls in our faces, bellowing icy rage. I get goosebumps and a cold feeling travels up and down my body.
Panic seems to wash over Mazal. She grabs my arms, pulling me towards the house. Pages of precious paper are ripped from my hands, torn away by the cruel wind. The rain starts to fall along with my tears.
“No!” I scream. “Not the story,” I sob.
Mazal isn’t listening, she’s heaving us inside, locking and bolting the garden door. She sits down heavily on the sofa, sweat seeping down the sides of her head.
“Phew! That was close,” she exclaims.
“That was close? That was CLOSE?” I yell at her, finally losing it. “My story was just DESTROYED! My story, MY STORY that I am meant to send off by next Tuesday, next TUESDAY! How on EARTH am I meant to finish it NOW?” I scream at her, absolutely furious. “Do you know how HARD it has been for me to even get THIS FAR? Do you? Do you really? Dad’s been distant ever since Mum died, Lorcan and Shane are two Mazal, TWO! Orion is a cat, A CAT! No one believes in me, no one cares. No one blooming cares,” I screech. I am sobbing now, salty tears streaming down my face. I collapse in a heap on the floor.
All my anger is spent now. My energy has drained. All that is left now is utter sadness and that hollow empty feeling.
“Hey, hey,” Mazal whispers to me gently. “Hey, look at me,” she says.
I look up at her, my tear streams smudged and gulping back sobs.
“Listen to me, Kyna,” Mazal says, carefully taking both my hands in hers. “Look, you are an amazing talented person. You are kind, thoughtful and very capable. You can do this. You can, trust me. I believe in you Kyna, even if no one else does. I will always believe in you, no matter what,” she tells me fervently.
“Wow… thank you Mazal,” I say.
“Don’t worry, it’s what best friends do,” she says.
I shake my head.
“No, it’s what girlfriends do,” I reply and lean forward. I kiss her. A feeling of bliss sparkling between our lips and butterflies dance jigs in my tummy.
Our lips break apart.
“Alright, girlfriends,” Mazal agrees and brings me towards her again.
“You look smart,” says Mazal as I descend the stairs to the front door.
“Thanks,” I reply as my tummy ties itself in heart-knots. “You look rather chic yourself,” I say, indicating to her gold and green dress.
“Thank you darling,” she says before gallantly taking my hand.
“Oh Mazal! I do love you,” I say.
Mazal flushes pink.
“I love you more,” she declares, planting a soft kiss on my cheek.
We hail a taxi and soon arrive at the restaurant for our first date. As we are being seated I think about my story which I finally finished and sent off. After mine and Mazal’s first kiss, I had decided to rewrite my whole draft. I knew what had gone wrong now. I couldn’t write a boy-girl love story when my own real romance was a girl-girl love story.
I enjoy our date very much when, just before dessert, my phone buzzes. I fetch it out of my handbag and open the message.
“Oh my god! I’ve won! I’ve won the competition!” I practically scream.
Mazal’s eyes go wide and she starts grinning madly.
“Kiran Millwood Hargrave loved it! Look, she says ‘I loved this gentle yet bold and fiercely loving tale of a teen queer romance. I found it adorable how Lilian Scott and Renita Lyle bond over a lost baby deer and I can’t wait to read more by this talented young lady.’!”
“No way!” Mazal cries. “Kyna, that’s amazing!”
“I know!” I say, my voice squeaky with excitement.
Mazal reaches for my arm and kisses me passionately. It is all ending just as it should be. Perfectly.
Thanks for reading,