“The people who need what you have to say are waiting for you and they dont care that you think it's boring, unoriginal or lacking in value.”
Havi Brooks

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Notes from the author:

Middle grade and young adult protagonists are often confronted with the impending death of a friendship. In most cases, it’s down to natural causes. Friends grow up; friends grow apart. When they start to solidify their own identities, they start to question the parental assumption that two kids sharing the same gender, age, and geographical location are destined to be best friends forever. In this story, however, the cause of damage to Tiana and Misha’s friendship is anything but natural.

Of course I stole it. It was the obvious thing to do. It was this big tacky symbol of everything that had gone wrong between Tiana and me. If I’d believed in magic, I’d have said that stealing the locket and maybe destroying it was a spell to put everything right. But I didn’t believe in magic. I was just angry and hurt and ready to hurt someone back. And what better way to hurt the person who hurt me than by stealing her prized possession?

Tiana and me, we’d been best friends. You couldn’t see daylight between us, we were that close. Everyone at school knew it: Misha and Tiana, ride or die. Then I guess puberty hit, that magic age when everyone shape-shifts like werewolves under the full moon and you get to see what kind of monsters they really are. In Tiana’s case, it was even more like werewolf stories than most, because she was seriously sick for a couple of weeks, so sick they wouldn’t let me visit her. She never told me what was up with that. Only reason I knew she’d got better was seeing her around town again, going out to breakfast with her family, waiting for the school bus. Moving through the crowd at the junior lockers like a Goddess among mortals. She’d shape-shifted into a runway model. About ninety percent of the boys and twenty-five percent of the girls were crushing on her, hard, and she ignored them all.

And she flat-out avoided me. She made damn careful sure that I never got a chance between classes to talk to her alone. And I wasn’t going to ask her, Hey, Tiana, what did I do wrong? where anyone else could hear. I could just imagine the fun that the rest of the kids at school would have after that scene went down. My only real option was to follow her home after school or just go knock on her door, make her look me in the eye. Make her say it out loud: Sorry, Misha, I just don’t like you anymore. And I was way too much of a coward to face that.

Meanwhile, she had this locket. This big, eye-catching thing. Had to be fake, the way it gleamed and sparkled; real gold and diamonds don’t have so much to prove. And what was Tiana trying to prove, swanning around with that hunk of bling like she was too much All That for the rest of us?

So of course I stole it.

But I didn’t just knock her down behind the gym and rip it off her. I was angry enough to do that, yeah, but I wasn’t stupid. So I told my cowardice to stuff it and I damn well did follow her home. Acted like it was no big deal, like nothing had changed. Asked her, soon as we were away from the other kids, Hey, so, we both have that big test coming up next week, how ‘bout we get together for an all-nighter study session? Like we used to do? It was hard to stop there when I wanted to go on begging Can’t we go back to the way we were, why aren’t we friends anymore, what changed? It was really hard to shut up and wait for her to answer, or to just turn and walk away from me without a word. And it was super hard to watch her face get this conflicted, painful look like she had a difficult truth to tell me and didn’t know where to start.

Finally she said, all reluctant like I’d badgered her into it, “Yeah, OK. Tomorrow after school?” So that’s what we did.

Her mom acted all stiff and proper around me, which was weird. And Tiana acted like we were actually there to study and nothing else. “Tiana,” I said, “we used to talk. What’s up with you?” And she just frowned and said we couldn’t goof off like silly middle-schoolers anymore. The trig test was going to be serious, OK?

And that’s when I thought, hell with it. Hell with her. I shut my mouth about anything that wasn’t trigonometry. And I watched where she put the locket when she got ready for bed. I waited until she was for-sure asleep.

And then I stole it.

I put it on so that the locket was under my shirt. Then I grabbed my things and got out of there. I figured, now she couldn’t ignore me anymore. If she wanted the damn thing back, she’d have to come crawling to me.

It was only a mile home from there, maybe not even that. But I never made it home. Halfway there, I got these monster cramps, worse than before my parents finally gave me permission to go on the pill. And it wasn’t even the right time of the month. They were so bad, I just curled up right there on the sidewalk and lay there trying to breathe. Eventually, some animal instinct propelled me off the sidewalk and up the docks and down under a tarp on one of the boats, where I could fold myself up tight and wait to see whether I was going to die.

That was how Tiana found me. She dug me out from under the tarp, picked me up like I weighed less than a baby, and carried me back to her house. And then she told me everything.

“I felt you,” she said. “I was dead asleep and you woke me up, hurting. I’d felt you hurting for a long time, but Mama told me to just tune it out. And I hated it. But then tonight you got the destiny sickness and I knew Mama was wrong.”

I didn’t know what the hell “destiny sickness” was, but, whatever it was, it had me hurting too much to ask any questions.

“I’m so sorry, Misha. I should have come to you sooner. I told Mama the locket wanted someone, I could feel it, and maybe I’d have figured it was you if I’d thought for two seconds about it. But Mama was always telling me, it only gets handed down from mother to daughter, it can’t possibly want someone new already. But I should have trusted what I felt. You deserved some kind of warning, what it would be like.”

It all came out after that, in dribs and drabs over the next two weeks while I suffered my way through this “destiny sickness” business. Tiana told me that when I got better I’d have super strength, weird mental powers, all this superhero shit. And it meant I’d be set apart, just like her. We couldn’t afford to get attached to ordinary people anymore. We had to be able to answer destiny the instant she called, no questions asked, no regrets.

“But I did regret it. I missed you, Misha! But Mama made it clear I couldn’t have friends. All could have was a daughter, eventually, so I could hand her down that locket. But then the locket called you. I should be sorryit’s gonna be rough on you, no lie. But I’m so glad we’re in it together and we can be friends again.”

It was a lot to take in. And I can’t say it made it all better. Who says superheroes can’t have friends? That’s stupid. That’s, like, the stupidest trope in the comic books. I’m pretty damn mad at Tiana’s mom for pushing that bullshit on Tiana, and I’m still pretty mad at Tiana for buying it in the first place.

But at least we’re talking again. And, hey, I have a Magic Hero Destiny. That’s kind of neat, isn’t it?

This has been the Friday Fictionette for July 5, 2019. It's also the Fictionette Freebie for the month, which means anyone can download the full-length fictionette (1299 words) from Patreon (as an ebook or audiobook) regardless of whether they're subscribers.

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