Last week I started a new thing on my tumblr, where I will be posting 200 words of a (very) short story a day, Monday-Friday. My goals with this are
- To experiment with much shorter writing than I usually do
- To try and have more finished fiction to share
- To dabble in genres I either don’t have confidence or longer story ideas for
- And honestly, because I want to have fun with shorter things!
While these will be posted on my tumblr daily, somewhere between 5pm – 7pm PST, I will also be posting the fully-compiled version on Wednesdays to this blog.
Today, I’m sharing a story about two girls in love.
The night before the wedding, the sky was unusually clear.
Even on the distant horizon there was no trace of clouds of any sort; each individual star stood proudly alone, casting its own bright corona. Insects creaked to one another in quiet unison, undisturbed by the faintest breath of wind.
“If it does not come,” Mi-yeon said as she combed her hair, “then let’s run away instead. Somewhere where we don’t have to wait. It’s a silly tradition, right?”
In-hye considered the water spots on the ceiling. Under her folded hands, her heart beat slow and steady.
“Maybe,” she said.
The first time, In-hye thought she’d met a princess.
Mi-yeon was delicate, with long thin limbs and a soft oval face framed by sleek dark hair. Her pink bow of a mouth always smiled, whatever she said. She dressed in pastels but favored pink and white, high skirts and low tops and shoes with heels sharp enough to stab.
The first time, In-hye knew she’d met a dragon.
Mi-yeon stopped for nothing and no one; she’d taken one look at In-hye and smiled, and it hadn’t been love then, but In-hey knew it would be only a matter of time.
Mi-yeon liked to sleep curled up so closely that there was no space between their bodies at all. When allowed, she would curl to put her head on In-hye’s chest and throw one leg over In-hye’s hips, breathing in small peaceful snores. In the winter this was comforting; in the summer they would both wake up in the morning uncomfortable.
“You shouldn’t let me do that,” Mi-yeon said once, with a laugh. “My first girlfriend actually broke up with me about it. You’re too patient, In-hye!”
In-hye, who slept straight and still and lonely by herself, just shook her head.
“I totally noticed you first,” Mi-yeon said. “In the food court. You were frowning at something. Like you were trying not to cry! And I wanted to fight whatever had upset you.”
“You just want to fight everything, all the time.”
“No!” But then Mi-yeon laughed. “Yes. But I want to do that even more when I like someone. Should I slay a monster for you, Princess?”
“Don’t be silly,” In-hye said. She reached out to take Mi-yeon’s hand and prayed she wouldn’t notice how cold In-hye’s fingers were. Her heart ached. “You know there’s no such thing as monsters.”
“You’re in love,” In-hye’s grandmother said instead of a greeting. She stared at In-hye, her dark eyes hard and bright. Her small mouth pulled into a deep frown. “Is it with that girl? You’re a fool.”
In-hye cringed but forced her smile not to falter. “She’s wonderful, Grandmother,” she said. “If you’d just meet her, you’d know–”
“I don’t need to meet her to know,” her grandmother said. “You should know better. Silly girl. Have you told her?”
“I’ve told her I love her,” In-hye said. “That’s all.”
Her grandmother scowled. “Better tell her the rest soon. You’ll regret it.”
“A fortuneteller? Really?” Mi-yeon laughed. “You’re so old fashioned sometimes.”
“But you’ll listen to their advice?”
“If it makes you happy.” Mi-yeon took In-hye’s hand and squeezed it. “You know I don’t get it, but I’ll trust you.”
Thank you, In-hye meant to say, but it came out, “You shouldn’t.”
Mi-yeon’s smile faded. “What?”
“No, I’m sorry,” In-hye said. “It’s not important.”
“I’m just being silly again,” In-hye said. “You know what I’m like. It’s just that. Don’t worry.”
Mi-yeon’s brow furrowed and her shoulders drooped. “I wish you’d trust me, then.”
And to that, In-hye could say nothing.
On that clear night the day before the wedding, In-hye waited until Mi-yeon’s breathing smoothed out into the cadences of sleep, then rose from the bed. She went to the desk and pulled out a pen and Mi-yeon’s battered notebook. It wasn’t a diary, Mi-yeon insisted, just a place where she liked to write her thoughts down, to organize them.
In-hye looked at the rows of Miy-yeon’s handwriting, looking at the shape of the words without reading them. Like Mi-yeon herself, they were sharp and lovely both.
In darkness and silence, In-hye wrote her confession.
I love you. I’m sorry.
In-hye’s grandmother took one look at her and sighed, then stepped aside to let her in.
“I told you,” she said. She sounded sad rather than stern. “You waited too long. Silly girl. Things like us, we’ve no business getting involved with humans.”
She opened her arms when In-hye took a sobbing breath and held her, stroking a hand through her ear, around the phantom places where In-hye’s fox ears hid.
“There will be others, someday,” her grandmother murmured. “But next time, perhaps not a human. They’re such fleeting things.”
In-hye said nothing, only clung to her grandmother and wept.
“You’re an idiot,” Mi-yeon said. “I can’t believe you did that.”
Wrapped in her nest of blankets, In-hye raised her head and gave Mi-yeon a bewildered look.
“How did you even get here?” she asked.
“Your grandmother called me,” Mi-yeon said. “You stupid, stupid fox! You could have at least talked to me.”
In-hye leaned back. Her ears wanted to flatten against her skull, but she’d need to manifest them first. Instead, she lowered her gaze. “I’m sorry?”
“You should be,” Mi-yeon said. “What were you thinking?!”
Again In-hye drooped. “How could I tell you? I couldn’t expect you to believe me. I didn’t want you to think I was lying to you.”
“So you lied to me for real.” Mi-yeon sighed. She crossed to sit on In-hye’s bed.
“I’m pissed,” she said. “After all this, maybe it’s better the wedding didn’t happen. You lied for a year, and then you ran away. How awful.”
In-hye cringed. She sank deeper into her blankets.
“But I still want you to be mine,” Mi-yeon went on. “Would you try again with me?”
“No promises,” Mi-yeon said, “but whatever you say, mean it.”
The words, to her relief, came easily.