Flash Fiction: Familiar

Sleeping Arctic Fox
Sleeping Arctic Fox

I’ve been working on something, something big. Like worldbuilding big. As you may know by now I love fantasy and I love writing. So it might not come as a surprise to you that one of my dreams is to write a fantasy book {or series of them hihi}. It’s kinda scary, but in a good way. So I’m trying to, very slowly, build a world and all the races, creatures and people that go in it. What helps is writing tiny scenes and stories to flesh out these things. The following story is one of those. This might be part 1, if inspiration for this pair of characters strikes again, who knows! Enjoy, and tell me what you think!

Keep her safe, it was all he could think about while running through a forest he didn’t know, remembering nothing, not even his name. He could remember her name though, Nialura, which was a strange name, he knew, he just didn’t know why. It didn’t matter now anyway, he was still running, still trying to get somewhere safe. Get her somewhere safe.

There was a rumbling noise, lights illuminating the forest around him. A car passing him and pulling to a stop at the side of the road. Was this what he was running from? He couldn’t know, not with the adrenaline and magic coursing through him, pounding against his skin. He swerved away from the car and kept running. If he could find some buildings, maybe he could find shelter, somewhere to hide. A shape stepped out from behind a tree, forcing him to stop.

“David,” the woman asked, “are you alright?”

“Get away.” He all but growled at her, clutching Nialura’s tiny form closer to his chest. She was so small, so vulnerable.

“David? It’s me, Zoe. Why are you running? What’s after you?” The woman stepped closer, her brown eyes wide and worried. Her dark skin looked warm in the afternoon sun that dappled through the trees. She didn’t look dangerous, but how could he be sure. She reached out, as if to touch him. It was too much. He jumped back, twisting to keep Nialura away from her, throwing up a glowing blue barrier between them. The woman, Zoe, jumped as if burned, her eyes flashing a bright silver for a moment before turning back to warm brown. “David!” She exclaimed, a combination of panic and incredibility in her voice. “Will you just tell me what’s going on? You disappear for three days, nobody knows where you went, and you show up here, smelling like fear, naked, running through the forest like the devil himself is chasing you. What happened to you?” She continued, stepping closer to where the blue barrier had been.

“I don’t know.” He, David?, ground out.

She studied him for a moment more. “You don’t even recognize me, do you?” At the shake of his head she continued. “We’re friends, part of the same – family I suppose. We were all really worried about you. What do you remember?”

He closed his eyes for a moment and thought back. There were some flashes of walking through snow, fighting, throwing his magic at people who tried to get him, running towards a giant wall of purple light, seeing Nialura, her white fur almost invisible against the snow and her amber eyes sharp and knowing. He doesn’t say the last part, but tells Zoe about the snow and the fighting and the wall. Her eyes go wide when he mentions it.

“You went Through the Veil?” The way she says it makes him add capitals, like it’s important. “Why would you go there?”

To get her, he thinks but doesn’t say, her huddling form warm against his bare chest. She stirs then, looking up at him with her amber eyes. “You should show her.” A soft voice rings through his head and he knows instantly that it’s Nialura. “I think you knew her, before. She’s not a threat.” 

“Are you sure?” He thinks back, knowing she can hear him too.

“Yes.” She answers, rubbing her cheek against his chest. “She feels safe.” 

“David?” The woman before him asks. “Let’s get out of here, okay? We’ll get you somewhere warm and with clothes.” She’s grinning as she says the last part, but there is too much worry in her eyes. Instead of answering he took a tentative step towards her, still ready to jump out of her reach, despite what Nialura said. He held out his arms, showing her the small white fox nestled in them.

“Nialura.” He tells her as Zoe’s eyes go wide.

“A Familiar.” Zoe breathes in awe and the word strikes a cord within him, yes, that’s what Nialura is. Familiar in a world where he doesn’t know or remember anything. “But – it’s so rare. And – you’re  too young. You should’nt be able to -. How?” She finally seemed to settle on.

“I don’t know.” Was the only answer he was able to give her.

“Finding a Familiar comes with a cost.” She says, dreamlike, like she’s quoting something. She closes her eyes for a moment and when they open again there’s a new light in them, one filled with determination and respect. “Alright, come on, we’ll figure it all out. I’m taking you both home.” She stepped forward and gently curled her hand around his upper arm, being mindful not to touch Nialura. That touch and her words of home are the first things that seem to make sense in this world that he should know but doesn’t. With one last questioning look towards Nialura he does the only thing that feels right; he follows.

 

Flash Fiction: Aftermath

lady_wolf__by_shannon_maer__by_shannon_maer-d6ir4yq
Lady Wolf by the wonderful Shannon Maer

There was a scene that I’ve had in my head for a long time, but I never quite knew how to start. So when I came across the writing prompt from Sarah Selecky I was very excited! It gave me the opportunity of writing out the scene without the immediate need to turn it into a full story. So here you go, a scene that takes place directly after a tragedy. Let me know what you think!

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I woke up slowly, the heartbeat under my ear a comforting rhythm. The chest I was laying on was solid, rising and falling with his every breath. Strong arms circled me, holding me close. For a moment I snuggled closer into its warmth. That’s when the pain started. There was no sound except for a harsh ringing. My entire body felt like it was on fire, which, now that I remembered what happened, could actually be true. I lifted myself off of my saviour with a pained whimper. I wasn’t on fire, which was a good thing. There was a piece of rebar sticking out of my right thigh, which was a bad thing. Going by how it felt, the bones in that leg were fractured and blood was pouring out of the wound in frightening speed. Now was not the time to freak out, I chastised myself, trying to calm my panicked breathing. Gently I lifted my left leg over the piece the of rebar, rolling onto my back. Now I could finally sit up. The man next to me was still out cold, but I needed to stop my own bleeding before I could check on him. He healed, I didn’t.

Closing my eyes I tried to calm down, deep breaths in and out, willing my body to stop shaking. A rather tough feat when you’re experiencing shock, a voice in my head said. It sounded like my brother. A laugh bubbled up in my throat, but I pushed it down, knowing that if I started laughing I wouldn’t be able to stop. Focus, I told myself again, grabbing the piece of rebar with my left hand. Pushing down the shock and the pain I began chanting the healing spell. I waited until I felt my right hand pulsing with magic, the air around it crackling with energy. It wasn’t the elegant magic I was used to, too filled with terror and pain, but it would at least make sure I wouldn’t die out here, laying in the middle of the street. With one smooth move I yanked the rebar free, pressing my other hand onto the wound and setting the magic free. I screamed as it tore through me like fire, knitting skin and bone back together again.

Still panting through the pain, but certain that I wouldn’t bleed out, I turned my attention back to the man next to me. He looked almost peaceful, laying on his back like he was asleep. He was still breathing and I’d heard his heart beating steadily earlier, so he wasn’t that hurt, just knocked out. He’d also saved my life. I gripped him by the shoulders and started shaking him.

“Hey! Wake up!” No response. “Come on, Wolfman, nap time is over!” Still nothing. I braced myself, knowing he wouldn’t be happy being woken up like this, but he left me no choice. I slapped him across the face with all that I had. “Sam, wake up!” His green eyes flew open and flashed gold as I got out of his way. He sprang up, unnaturally fast and changed. The sound of ripping fabric, bones realigning themselves and suddenly I was face to face with a huge snarling wolf. “You’re okay.” I told him, holding my hands up to show that I was unarmed. “You were unconscious, but you’re alright.” The wolf seemed to calm down at those words. His golden eyes looked me up and down for a moment, no doubt taking in the blood soaking my jeans. He whined low in his throat. “I was hurt, but I’m better now. We need to get out of here, however, I think we both don’t want to be stuck here with the police asking questions we can’t answer.” The wolf bobbed his head up and down in answer. “Alright, your car was around the corner that way, correct?” I asked, gesturing to the west. Another nod. “Then let’s go. Do you know anywhere safe where we can hide, lick our wounds and prepare for the next step?” An enthusiastic whoof and tail-wagging this time. I grinned at him. Slowly I got to my feet, keeping my weight off of my right leg as I straightened. As soon as I tried to take a step however, it buckled under me, almost sending me face first into the rubble. Strong arms gripped me again, keeping me on my feet. Sam was holding me up, in his human form this time.

“Are you sure you’re not hurt?” He asked, helping me step over a big piece of building.
“I tried a healing spell. It patched me up for the moment, but I was too panicked to focus. I’ll need rest and do one when I’m not fearing for my life.” I confessed, gritting my teeth and taking a few steps on my own. Sam stayed close, which I was grateful for.
“We’re not far now. I’m taking you to my family, we’ll be safe there. At least for now.”
I looked into his green eyes, “Are you sure you want to involve your family in this? They already tried to kill us for getting too close.”
A muscle in his jaw clenched in anger. “Which is why my family would want in. Besides, seeing what they can do, we need more manpower.”
I couldn’t argue with that. We’d been taken by surprise and almost hadn’t lived through their attack. Up until now it had just been Sam and me, but if we were to defeat the evil bastards that did this, we needed more people. “Alright.” I told Sam as he opened the door to his black Chevy Camaro and helped me in. Pain shot up my leg from the muscles that weren’t healed properly and I hissed in a breath through my teeth. “I’ll be fine.” I reassured a very worried looking Sam. He nodded and walked to the driver’s side, climbing in and letting his car roar to life. My phone buzzed with an incoming message.
Why are you limping? EV
Spying on me again, brother? TJV
I typed back as we sped down the road towards the edge of the city.
No need, little sister, you are on every news broadcast. AV
Indeed, fleeing the scene with a naked man. Mother will be so proud. EV
“Shit.” I breathed, really not needing my brothers or, heaven forbid, my mother to get involved. But it looked like I had no choice on this one.
“What is it?” Sam asked, his eyes never leaving the road.
“There is news footage of us.”
Sam snarled. “They’ll recognize us.”
“Yes. But I’ll make it go away.” I answered as I typed in a number and pressed my phone to my ear.
“TJ, are you hurt?” My brother answered on the first ring.
“Not at the moment. I’ll need some rest and another healing spell. I’ll be fine.”
“Alright, what do you need?” Augustus asked, his voice all business.
“Get the footage off the air.”
“Done.” He answered, then seemed to pause for a moment. “Is mister Weston still with you?” He asked.
“Yes, we’re heading towards his family. They’re safe.”
“Yes, I read that in the files. Mister Weston, I know you can hear me. Take care of my little sister or this Brotherhood will be the least of your worries. Is that understood?”
I looked apologetically towards Sam, but he simply nodded. “He understands.” I answered Augustus.
“Good. Security teams have been dispatched to your next location along with a healer. They will meet you there. I’ve got Emerson on research, we should arrive with new information around eight. See you then, sister. Be safe.”
“You too.” I answered and ringed off. Relief fought with rage. We were still alive despite the Brotherhood’s efforts, but they harmed a lot of innocent people today. They needed to be stopped, whatever the cost. And now, with our people pulling together, we finally stood a chance.
“We’ll get them.” I said into the quiet interior of the car.
“I know.” Sam answered, the same rage in his eyes. I gripped his hand where it rested on the gear shift for a moment and squeezed. We were safe. At least for the moment.

Flash Fiction: Torrid

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Once Upon a Time by the amazing Anne Stokes

Time for another flash fiction story. This one was written for the prompt: write about the dragon who rescued the princess from the knight. I just had this image of a princess sitting in the palace garden of her home, not happy being rescued at all. Then this happened! Enjoy, and tell me what you think!

This wasn’t the life I’d imagined for myself. Not at all. Not that I’d ever had a lot to say about what my life would look like. I was born a princess, the course of my life had been set in stone since the moment I first drew breath. But stone can crack, and it did when my powers first manifested. My parents were terrified and gave me away as a virgin sacrifice to the dragon that lives high in the mountains on my sixteenth birthday. Needless to say, I wasn’t sacrificed, in fact, the dragon is actually quite nice once you get to know him.
He had vast libraries and loved to talk about all the places he had seen. Even though my life wasn’t my own, it was the only time I’d felt free. There were no expectations to live up to, no mask that I needed to wear. The dragon, I called him Torrid, showed me my true self, and accepted it unconditionally. For a time, I was happy. This, of course, couldn’t last. After just a few years of peace, the princes came to defeat the ‘terrifying dragon’ and save the lost princess.
Eventually it was Prince Evan who defeated the dragon and won me. He didn’t kill my dragon, I begged him not to. Promised I would go with him if he just let Torrid live. Evan dragged me away to his lands, my life again not my own. Our marriage was a huge affair, white flowers on every surface, people arriving from all across the continent to watch the lost princess finally returned. The people of the kingdom fell in love with me, and I with them. But Evan was cruel, both to his people, and to me. Instead of locked in a mountain cave with my dragon I was now trapped in a castle with only animals for company.
The castle gardens were my only place of solace, the one place where I could be away from expectations and the torment that was my husband. The soft petal of a yellow rose was like a caress against my hand as I picked it and smelled its sweet perfume. I turned my head towards the sun, his golden light warming my skin. Days like these were when I missed my dragon the most, his easy company, his gravelly laugh, his eyes glinting when I did something he didn’t expect.
A shadow fell across my face. I blinked up at the figure looming over me. It was a man, young of face and body, but his eyes and silver hair spoke of a soul far older. I knew that soul.
“Torrid?” I gasped.
A soft smile adored his handsome face. “Yes, my princess, it is indeed me.”
“But how? You’re – human?” I wondered, reeling from this revelation.
“Not quite.” He answered as his eyes flashed golden yellow for a moment. “It’s a new trick I learned from an old friend.”
“Torrid, I am so glad to see you. But why are you here? If Evan found out -.” I couldn’t even finish the sentence, a chill running down my spine.
“My dear princess,” the dragon in front of me started, gently taking my hands into his, “my love, I’ve come to win you back.”
I couldn’t stop my wide grin even if I wanted to, knowing that everything I felt for my dragon was clear on my face. And for the first time since I was taken from his, no – our, cave in the mountains, I felt hope stir in my heart.

Short Story: Breathe

breath
Breath by the amazing Selina Fenech

As you might have figure by now, I adore mermaids. I love artworks of mermaids, myths of mermaids and of course, stories of mermaids. So when I found a writing prompt that said to write a story about a mermaid and a princess, I just had to write something. Let me know what you think and enjoy!

He was drowning. He fought with all he had, flailing wildly. Anything to just break through the surface and just breathe, but it was hopeless. His vision was darkening, shifting from black back into colour and he was losing his focus. The ship was becoming smaller, the shimmering of the sun on the surface impossibly far away.

Something moved in the water. He looked at it, watched as it came closer impossibly fast. His eyes grew wide as the shape became more human. A mermaid, his slowing mind provided.

“John!” the mermaid called out through the water. He wondered how he could hear her, and how she knew his name for that matter. A vision, he decided, conjured up by his mind so he wouldn’t die alone. It had to be a vision, for the mermaid wore the face of his captain.

“Marina” he whispered, the last of his breath escaping his lips as she took his face in her hands. She looked worried, her eyes sad as her grey-green hair floated away from her face. The scales of her tail were the same colour he noted, shimmering lavender where the sun hit them just right. It was the last thing he saw before the world turned black once again.

Soft lips pressed against his own. Softer than they were in his dreams and fantasies. It was the most natural thing to breathe in as she exhaled. The pain in his lungs lessened, which his doctor’s mind told him was not a good thing. He clung to his fantasy, deepening the kiss while breathing in her sweet air.

Too soon she pulled back, wonder and desire both glinting in her pale silver eyes. She smiled at him, the soft smile she sometimes wore when they were the only two on deck, gazing at the stars. He smiled back as she gently caressed his face with her fingers. He closed his eyes under her touch. He opened them again when he felt her wind her arms under his armpits, gripping tight around his chest. She pulled up and he had no choice but to follow.

They sped through the water, straight up towards the light of the sun and John thought that if he were to die, this was actually quite pleasant.

At that moment they broke through the surface. There was a lot of shouting and suddenly there was a rope around his chest, pulling him up to the ship while he tried to cough up the water from his lungs. They lowered him to the deck and after more shouting, another figure was laid beside him.

His breath left his lungs on a sharp exhale as he watched the glittering scales of the mermaid’s tail melt away, leaving in their place two very human looking legs.

“Marina?” He rasped as he looked into his captain’s face. The corner of her mouth quirked up in humour at his shock.

“Your pup was right.” Marina said as she nodded towards his daughter, staring at them with wide eyes.

“You’re a – a mermaid pirate captain?” John asked, his voice still raw.

Fondness twinkled in her eyes as she leaned forward. “Mermaid pirate captain princess.” She corrected. Before he could do anything more than gape at her she pressed her still wet lips against his, not caring that the whole crew was watching.

“Ew!” Little Emma’s voice called out. “Does that mean you’ll get married now? Will I be a princess too?” She gasped as she excitedly bounced on the balls of her feet.

John laughed, he couldn’t help it. He laid back down on the deck, pulling Marina into his arms and looked up at the blue sky. As he pressed her close he thanked the lucky stars that it was this ship that he and his daughter had stepped on, so many months ago.

Aster, the Witchy Disaster

Aster

The last story for my Coursera course. I passed! Yay! This time I had to write a story in which there was a significant change. My story is about a young witch named Aster, who’s magic keeps backfiring on her. It’s a little bit different from what I normally do, I made it into a poem. So here it is, enjoy!

There once was a witch named Aster,
whose magic was quite the disaster.
She’d chant and spell and brew and curse,
but nothing ever went from bad to worse.

A curse to hate would always bring love,
and a spell to weaken would instead make tough.
Aster just didn’t know where she went wrong,
when her potion to depress made people break out in song.

The villagers even began to seek out the poor witch,
Whenever they encountered so much as a hitch.
They’d kept coming to her cottage down the road,
no matter how many times she tried to turn them into toads.

One day Aster decided she’d had quite enough,
and gathered all her scrolls and herbs and stuff.
‘This time’, she thought, her heart filled with glee,
‘this time I’ll teach you all to fear me!’

Feather of Jay and a sprig of woad,
sapphires and azureus frogs, a whole load.
Into the bubbling cauldron it all went,
stirring until her spoon was gnarled and bent.

She chanted and sang her evil spell,
grinning as her power rose and fell.
She cackled as she stirred her cauldron’s brew,
but then: *poof* her hair turned a bright, bright blue.

She stumbled back, in total shock,
her fingers trembling as she grabbed a cobalt lock.
‘Hells bells and a coven of ugly witches’,
she thought, ‘this will have the whole town in stitches.’

She couldn’t be seen like this, not now, not ever,
but turning her hair back turned out to be quite the endeavour,
Night upon night she cursed, studied and hexed,
until she was so tired she couldn’t read the ancient texts.

Her hair stayed blue no matter how hard she tried,
so one day she decided to wear it with pride.
She donned herself in a bright azure gown,
and held her head high as she went into town.

There were murmurs and whispers but nobody chuckled,
or laugh long and loud until their knees buckled,
In fact, they were smiling and slightly in awe,
Aster’s pride growing with all that she saw.

Then up came a-running a very young lassie,
Her eyes bright and her mouth very sassy.
‘Aster, Aster,’ she called, ‘your hair is al blue,’
‘I love it, I love it, it looks so good on you.’

Aster felt something then, she’d never felt before,
a warm glowing, all the way to her core.
And when the girl said; ‘you are so cool!,
the young witch couldn’t help, but smile like a fool.

More people came, to talk and even hug,
and thank Aster for all of their luck.
Aster saw them all, so happy and glad,
and thought: ‘maybe being good, isn’t all bad.’

Flash Fic: a New School

parliament

Picture of the building of parliament in the Hague, the Netherlands. Credit to Vichie81 on Thinkstock.

Time for a new writing assignment I want to share with you. In week three of the Writing for Young Readers course we talked about setting, plot, theme and characters. As an assignment we had to write a story of 500 words or less, depicting some sort of change. Below is my entry! I wanted to go for YA this time and I’d like to think I nailed it. This version is slightly more embellished for your reading pleasure, but I think it works out better this way. Of course my first draft was 528 words, so I took out a few sentences here and there, got it back to 498, decided that for the blog I wanted the longer version again, so now it’s 672 words long {tihihi} The building in the picture is the inspiration for the school where our MC {main character} experiences a very peculiar first day… Enjoy!

‘It doesn’t look like a school.’ Sam thought as she trudged up the steps of one of the buildings, this one looking sort of like a short tower. The entire complex was made up of redbrick buildings with dark grey roofs, all of them different shapes and sizes. When you put them all together they kind of looked like a castle, which was just weird for a school, if you asked Sam. Her parents had been more than excited, however, when they got the invitation in the mail. Grimleigh Academy had been perfect for their ‘extra attention’ needing (read: troublemaker) teen, especially after she got expelled from her last school for punching a boy in the face. Sam of course hadn’t wanted to come at all, but it wasn’t like she had a choice.

The inside at least was more familiar, with light walls and floors, lockers lining both sides of the hallway. Classes had already started, leaving the halls mostly empty. Sam looked down at the note in her phone, she was supposed to meet mr. Greenridge in room 104. A loud bark made her look up and she almost dropped her phone in shock. The biggest dog she’d ever seen came rushing straight towards her. She jumped to the side, banging her shoulder against the lockers in her haste to get out of the enormous beast’s path.

‘Aw, come on, Andrew!’ A voice called after it. ‘The girls love that out-of-control thing!’ A boy with red curls and twinkling eyes came rushing past, chasing after the huge dog. He stopped when he saw Sam. ‘Oh hey, fresh meat!’ He grinned. ‘You on your way to the principal?’

‘Uhm, yeah?’

‘Cool! I’ll walk ya.’ The guy said, turning back the way he came and walking down the hall, not bothering to wait and see if Sam followed or not. ‘You gotta name, fresh meat?’

‘It’s Sam.’ She said, taking in the high ceilings and tiny windows. It was weird, the only windows in the building were high up and covered with some sort of foil.

‘I’m Gabe. So, what’re you in for? Witch right?’

‘What?’

‘Okay, no witch, I just thought, with the black hair and garb…’ Gabe trailed off at her pointed glare. ‘Then what? Shifter? Faerie? Oh! Are you one of those Selkie chicks?’ He stopped her with a hand on her arm. The door behind him read 104.

‘What are you talking about? You do realize those things aren’t real, right?’ She asked, feeling like this guy had lost touch with reality somewhere. A guy walked past them, a ferret perched on his shoulder. He seemed to be talking to it, hands waving expressively.

‘Wait, you mean you don’t know?’ Gabe exclaimed, pulling her attention back to him. ‘Oh man! I wanna see your face when Greeny explains what this place is. It’ll be epic! Please, please, please let me sit in.’ Sam was about to respond when a shriek filled the hallway. ‘Ah, ms. Honeycombe found the gift I left in her desk.’ Gabe grinned, his amber eyes lighting up with mischief.

‘Gabriel Helseth! Did you really think I wouldn’t guess it was you? You are in a world of trouble, young man!’ a female voice shouted.

‘Oops, guess that’s my cue to skedaddle.’ Gabe told her, still grinning like a loon. ‘See you around, fresh meat!’ He turned and all but ran towards the exit.

‘Don’t count on it, short-stack!’ Sam shouted at his retreating back.

Gabe turned, still running. ‘See, nicknames already, we’ve got a bond going!’ Sam hid behind her hair to hide the smile she couldn’t suppress at his antics. Yeah, she liked this guy already.

‘Ms. Lismore?’ A soft voice spoke behind her. Sam turned to offer her hand and an introduction, but the words died on her lips. All Sam could think when she faced the principal, with his green hair and beard, was that this was the weirdest first day she had ever had. And it hadn’t even begun yet.

Flash Fiction: A Lovely Phonecall

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Last week I started something new: I signed up on Coursera.org! Coursera is a website which offers free online courses from the best universities all over the world, on a bunch of different subjects. I want to follow some writing courses this year to take my writing to the next level. I signed up for the course ‘Writing for Young Readers’ from the Commonwealth Education Trust, hosted by writer David Hill. I just finished the first module and it’s been so educational and tons of fun.

To finish the module, I needed to choose a viewpoint {first -, second -, third person or universal viewpoint} and write a story of 500 words or less about an event taken from my own life. I wrote a memory of a phonecall between me and my now husband, which is the beginning of how we got together, and I wanted to share it will all of you. Love it, hate it, let me know!

I was laying across my mother’s bed, because that was where the phone was. Laying on my stomach, I listened as Rick told me a joke. We’d already been talking for about an hour, even though we had seen each other just hours ago at school. I had this dopey smile on my face and was glad that he couldn’t see me. He spoke up again, sounding shy all of a sudden.

“Am I crazy if I ask -. What I mean is -. Ugh! I think we both know what’s going on between us, right?”

My heart was hammering in my throat. Was he really suggesting what I thought he was? He was my best friend, if I told him I liked him, but he didn’t feel the same it could ruin everything. “I- What do you mean?”

He let out a weary sigh. “Never mind. If you don’t know what I’m talking about I’ll-.”

“No wait!” I interrupted him, dragging the courage to speak up from somewhere deep inside me. “I think-. I know what you mean. I do know.”

“Yeah?” I could practically hear his grin.

“Yeah.” I grinned right back.

There was a silence after that, a bit awkward, but mostly filled with joy. We both started laughing at the same time. Words had never been a problem between us but suddenly everything felt charged, different, but better.

“The annual carnival is next month. We’re all going. Would you like to come with me?” I asked, nervous even in the revelation of a few minutes ago.

“Yeah.” He answered. “I’d love to.”