Introducing my new regular feature: the first edition of Serial Scribblings! I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know my characters, Leelah, Nic, Chaley, and Idabel, through future editions.
It all started with a boy. Leelah marveled at the stupidity of her predicament as she stumbled over the tangled roots of a massive oak tree, it’s expansive branches heavy with leaves. Probably so beautiful in the sunshine, it appeared sinister against the moonlit sky, slowly swaying in the dank breeze.
I followed a boy here, she repeated in her head as her stomach dropped, her face warming with new embarrassment. A boy with whom she’d only spoken two full sentences in the six years she’d known him. A boy who wouldn’t even speak to her if his friends were present. A boy with whom she likely had nothing in common, who had no redeeming qualities, besides his unsurpassed, undeniable, golden-boy beauty, which had captivated her since the first day of sixth grade. The very day when she noticed for the first time that boys weren’t quite so disgusting, coincidentally. Now she would have to forget him. What kind of story was that to tell her daughter one day?
A slave to her epic imagination, she’d pictured a first kiss under the stars, a sweet early summer wind rustling their clothes as they embraced, cold electricity darting through her stomach and up her spine, a shooting star racing above their heads as they finally parted. She was mortified to realize she was like one of those women in those mindless romantic comedies they showed on basic cable over and over again. She was a dumb hopeless romantic. That changed tonight. From this point forward she was declaring herself a modern romantic. Hoping for the best, but expecting…well, to get lost in the woods.
Her first act as a newly minted modern romantic was to extinguish any hope that her perfect first kiss would ever happen. Even if she managed to find the object of her obsession, she was eaten alive by bugs, pouring sweat, and her clothes were dirty and torn. He would recoil in disgust if he saw her. And anyway, shouldn’t her first kiss be with someone that she, you know, actually knew? Not someone that she just stole glances at in hallways and on bus rides? Someone who wanted to kiss her in public, in front of the entire school, not in secret? A first kiss was forever.
She noticed a dark figure darting through the trees, parallel with her. It’s only a deer, she told herself, not at all convinced. A distant splash from the nearby river made her jump, but it was a good sign. If she could hear the river a trail must be close by. Something dark that appeared to have wings weaved between tall blades of grass beside her. A bird flew overhead, momentarily filling the eerily quiet forest with its almost-human sounding call. She should have been more afraid, but her anger propelled her forward, deeper into the dense forest, in search of the trail they’d somehow lost. She was angry at the girl she’d left behind, injured, disoriented, and in horrible pain, all of which she deserved. She’d taken everything from her.
But even as those thoughts made circles in her brain, she knew she had to go back. The only part of her that was purely her mother told her to go back. Slowly, as though her feet were stuck in a syrupy goo, she turned to retrace her steps. Incredibly, she was going to find the one girl she never thought would need her help.