Happy Friday, everyone!
And, to all my fellow writing enthusiasts – happy NaNoWriMo!
I’ve always wanted to participate in National Novel Writing Month, but since November is usually one of the busiest months of my year, the opportune moment has never presented itself. And, unfortunately, this year isn’t looking any less bleak… Between university starting, my oral exam, my master’s thesis, and the whole world succumbing to chaos, I really don’t have the time to commit to a full novel.
Or do I? After all, what matters most is a story’s greatness, not its length. I’m sure a four-page novel can be just as good as a 400-page one.
To prove my point, I’ve written exactly that. A four-page book that is sure to blow your breath away with its epicness and amazing writing. In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this became the world’s next great bestseller. And eventually got turned into a blockbuster movie. After all, I did my best to include every one of my favorite tropes and writing quirks, so there’s no way it can’t be good. Plus, I didn’t let anyone else read it first, so that its artistic purity wouldn’t get marred by any conflicting feedback.
So here it is: A Sunrise of Serpents and Evaporation! Fellow book bloggers, I expect you to promote the hell out of this masterpiece! (And yes, I know the title doesn’t really fit with the content of the story. But I thought it sounded really cool and marketable, so I decided to go with it anyway.)
A Sunrise of Serpents and Evaporation
I let out a breath I didn’t know I’d been holding. I could do this. I knew I could.
I gave my reflection one last check in the mirror. Luscious golden locks curled across my pale cheeks, making my icy blue eyes look all the more striking. Sharp cheekbones accented my round, full lips. I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. I would never be pretty, so this feeble attempt at making myself look presentable would have to do.
Besides, I’d always been more of a bookish person anyway. Unlike other girls, I much preferred to spend my time lost between pages with the likes of Sydney Carton and Edward Rochester for company. And Heathcliff, of course; him being the epitome of desirable Victorian love interests. Why would I want to hunch over the bathroom sink for hours and apply make-up? That would make people think I was one of those fake reader girls, and that simply wouldn’t do.
“You’re cutting it awfully close, Cyd!” my dad’s voice boomed from somewhere downstairs. “You don’t wanna be late on your first day!”
Like anyone in this dump of a town would even care about that. Of all the places he could have chosen to move to after mom’s death, Knives, Maine, had got to be the most boring. Apart from the school, the biggest building in town was the local convenient store – at least according to Wikipedia. Though maybe that was the point. A town with nothing in it also didn’t have any reminders of mom.
“Coming, dad!” I yanked the brush through my curls one last time, gave my reflection a final look of disapproval, and wrestled with the bathroom door for a good solid minute until I remembered that it opened inwards. Trying to ignore the lump in my throat, I headed downstairs.
Dad was already at the kitchen table, sipping coffee from his favorite chipped 49ers mug. Mom had given it to him back when they were dating, but I suppose he hadn’t had the heart to get rid of it along with all the other reminders he’d purged.
A wave of sadness washed over me. I know that probably doesn’t sound very sad, since I’m telling you this and not actually showing you my feelings, but trust me, this was the way it was. I was very, very sad because my mother had just died of cancer and my dad and I both didn’t know how to deal with it.
“I made you breakfast.” Dad gestured to about ten different boxes of cereal at the place across from him. “Didn’t know which one you wanted, so I figured I’d give you some options.”
“That’s really sweet of you, dad.” I forced a smile. Milk was nowhere in sight, and if I remembered correctly, I had emptied our last carton yesterday. I’d have to pick up some more groceries on my way home. (I know what you’re probably thinking right now – if her dad bought all those cereal boxes, wouldn’t he have gotten milk, too? But that’s where you’re wrong. This is a very obvious plot hole that I am keeping in the story so I can show you how much of an adult I am. Or do you know any other kids who help their parents with chores around the house?) “But I’m already running late, so I’ll probably just eat a sandwich on my way.”
His face fell ever so slightly.
“I’ll grab us something for dinner to make up for it.”
He chuckled. “That’s my girl.” (See? I am an amazing daughter!)
“You sure I can leave you alone here for a couple of hours?”
“You sure you don’t want me to come with you?”
I tried my best to hide my horror. “It’s just high school, dad. I think I can manage.”
With that, he returned to his coffee, and I went on the hunt for sandwich material.
Despite being the largest structure in town, Knives High School was tiny. If it hadn’t been for the koala – my new school’s mascot – glaring at me from the enormous wooden sign at the edge of the parking lot, I might have missed it altogether. At first I assumed the other buildings must be hidden somewhere behind the tremendous amount of trees that grew here, but quickly came to realize that there was, in fact, just the one building I was currently staring at.
“You new here?” A girl with skin as dark as the earth after a heavy summer rain, as brown as a mug of coffee on an early Monday morning, and as smooth as melted chocolate in the sunlight peered over my shoulder at the Knives High information package I was holding. Dad had picked it up when he’d registered me at, and I was supposed to return all the paperwork ‘at my earliest convenience’.
“That obvious, huh?”
“Kinda.” She grinned, flashing a row of pearly white teeth. “We don’t really get that many strange faces around here.”
“Don’t worry! You’ll feel at home in no time! C’mon, I’ll show you around – I’m Bri, by the way.”
“Cydnee. And that’s really nice of you, but I’m supposed to drop off all this paperwork at the front office.” I gestured vaguely toward the school. “And get my schedule and everything.”
“Oh, that’s totally fine! I can show you where it is!” She grabbed my hand, dragging me along without waiting for an answer. “I’m sure you’re gonna love it here!”
Deciding not to comment on that, I followed Bri through the big double doors and into the building. Thankfully, the air was considerably warmer here. All this cold northern wetness took some getting used to.
“It’s right over there.” She flashed another one of her brilliant female smiles, pointing to a counter to our left. Someone had taped a huge banner reading “FRONT OFFICE” onto its wooden panels. Yeah, I definitely wouldn’t have found that without my tour guide.
I got in line behind a tall boy with jet-black hair. Even though he had a very thick winter coat on, I could tell he had some serious abs. But I wouldn’t let myself get distracted. Instead, I thumbed through my packet again to make sure I had everything.
“Your name is spelled C-Y-D-N-E-E? That’s so weird! I thought it was Sidney, like, you know, S-I-D-N-E-Y?” Bri had obviously been reading over my shoulder, and felt completely unabashed about it.
“Yeah,” I shrugged. “My parents thought it looked cooler that way. Besides, every proper assassin needs a normal name with strange spelling.”
Bri’s eyes widened. With fear, I presumed. “You’re an assassin?”
“Well… I’ve never actually killed anyone. But I do consider myself very badass.”
The boy in front of us snorted.
“You got a problem with Cydnee’s name, Finn?” Bri sounded rightfully outraged.
The boy turned around. He was taller than I’d realized, and tanner than any human being coming from Maine had the right to be. And hotter, too… His lips lifted into a crooked, male smile.
“No. Why would I care what hipster parents want to name their kids?”
Bri stiffened indignantly beside me.
And then the boy’s eyes met mine. Before, I’d been thinking about how, in spite of her over-the-top enthusiasm, I actually kind of liked Bri. She clearly loved me, even though we’d only just met. Besides, everyone I’d seen in this town so far was excessively white, and you couldn’t exactly be the protagonist of a YA paranormal novel if you didn’t have a token minority best friend. I needed Bri if I ever wanted to be a true heroine. Maybe I’d get lucky and she was also a lesbian, and my book could fulfill the LGBTQ+ quota, too.
But within the sliver of a second in which Finn’s gaze locked with mine, all those thoughts vanished into nothingness. I saw only green, green in my vision, my body, my lungs. Depths and depths of it. Waves of seaweed, jade and turquoise swirling around me, luring me in. I couldn’t breathe, I realized with wonder. I was drowning. Everything was fading, I was dying, I knew, but I was completely and utterly entranced.
And then it stopped. The green became eyes again, a look of horror. And then he was gone.
I came to in the nurse’s office. I knew it was the nurse’s office because it smelled very strongly of antiseptic. I have great deduction skills, you see.
Bri’s anxious face hovered over mine. “Cydnee! You’re awake! You were so pale, I thought you might have died!”
“I definitely don’t feel dead,” I said. And I didn’t. My thoughts immediately circled back to Finn. I knew, in the depths of my heart, that he had just tried to kill me. But something about him had also drawn me in. I realized, with a pang, that I was utterly and irrevocably in love. Even though he probably wasn’t human.
“Are you sure you’re okay? You still look a bit weird.” Bri’s voice trailed off.
“I’m fine,” I insisted. “Where did Finn go?”
“Who?” Bri looked absolutely puzzled.
“Finn! You know, that tall black-haired dude we were talking to two minutes ago!”
“Finn Thalassos, you mean? I didn’t know you guys knew each other!”
“What? I mean, we don’t! But we were just talking to him!”
“Look, Cydnee. You just had a really bad fainting spell. But I swear to you – I haven’t seen Finn at all today.”
That was most definitely strange. But it confirmed my suspicions that there was more to Finn than met the eye. And in the next few weeks, I would use my amazing sleuthing skills to find out exactly what it was.
I suppose I could tell you all of that in a really long novel, but since I’m so excited that I can’t really keep it to myself, I’m just gonna info-dump everything on you now. The first thing I did was, obviously, to confront Finn. And let me tell you – his reaction was certainly suspicious. He wouldn’t meet my eyes and gave me this super agonized speech about how we couldn’t be friends, even though he really wanted to be. So I did some research, and it turns out that Finn is actually a merman! Who would’ve thought! When he touches water, he grows a tail, and he also has really powerful aquatic magic that has allowed him to live for 500 years but still look like a teenager. The only problem is that, when mermen meet their soulmates and look into their eyes, the soulmate immediately starts drowning in order to unite the two of them in a watery grave. So yeah, even though Finn and I are in a relationship now, we can’t actually look at each other, which complicates things a bit. But that’s okay. It’s not like Finn is my only option. If things go too badly, I can always pick sharkman instead… We’ve been a love triangle for quite a while now, you know.
So yeah – that was it for this week! Aren’t you completely blown away by my writing talents? Isn’t this just about the best thing you’ve ever read?
Please let me know your feedback in the comments! (Though I won’t be implementing any of it, since, as you know, this story is already perfect as it is…)
Also, let me know if you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, so I can cheer you on from the sidelines now that I’m done with my own project! What are some of your best writing tips and/or biggest pet peeves?