“What do you mean leave Reyes?” Eliana asked. “We don’t even really have money. We’re just three girls.”
“Three girls . . . . with magic,” I completed for her.
“Sure, we’ve all developed a bit of magic, which is a weird coincidence for a group of best friends, but it’d not like we’re Chosen Ones or whatever they call it in Anglachel.”
“So, like, we’d run away?” Leandra tentatively asked.
“Yeah, that’s it. Run away with me. Somewhere. Anywhere,” I pleaded. “Honestly, Eliana, Anglachel doesn’t sound like a bad idea. I’ve heard there’s a gender-fluid member of the royal family. Can you even imagine how accepting they must be of people like me there!”
“I have heard that. Didn’t the royal family allow them to change their name to something gender-neutral and even present them to the court that way?” Leandra remembered.
“Yeah,” Eliana said. “That’s right. They call them Prince Avery. And if they are presenting feminine, they call them Princess Avery. It is pretty cool. I’m still scared to come out to my family as pan.”
“Then don’t! We can just run away! I’m not saying we should run away from our problems. I’m saying we should run towards our futures! If Anglachel is this socially progressive, they must have programs for a group of outcast immigrants like us,” I reasoned.
“Maybe,” Leandra said, considering. “So you just want us to build a boat or something with our magic? I don’t know anything about boat travel.”
“I do,” Eliana said. “But boat travel is a lot of work. I can’t do it with just the three of us.”
“I bet you could,” I said. I was amazing at how much my mood picked up with this idea. It just felt right. “You could bring the boat to life with your creative magic. It could move through the water all by itself!”
“That does sound like a fun experiment,” Eliana allowed herself to ponder the idea.
“What do you say, Leandra?” I asked. “We can’t do this without you. We’re awkward as hell, you’d have to be our voice.”
“Don’t I know that’s true,” Leandra laughed. “I mean, I would have to tell my family goodbye. My situation was never like yours. My parents accepted me when I told them I was a lesbian.”
“Then we’ll tell them. Nothing wrong with a short pit stop before starting our destiny!” I declared. I even stood up and pumped my fist in the air to top off the sentiment.
“O.K., O.K.,” Leandra said. “I’ll go. Let me talk to my parents first, maybe they’ll give us money or something. And I’ll need to pack. I can’t be the group’s representative without my clothes.”
“You know that’s a lie,” Eliana countered. “You’ve always had a bag packed in case you were ever scouted as a model.”
“Don’t say that so loud,” Leandra growled. “It’s really embarrassing that it hasn’t happened yet.”
“You can become a model in Anglachel,” I said. “We can become whatever we want in Anglachel!”
“I’m in too,” Eliana said. “I don’t know much about Anglachel, but I do know that if we’re together, we can do anything.”
“That’s the spirit!” I said. I waved at the waitress, and she noticed me. “Two more spoons, please. We need to celebrate!”
The three of us fully demolished the higos con queso. For the last meal I was going to have in Reyes, it tasted pretty great. I liked the idea of leaving this place with sweet memories rather than the bitter ones I had been stewing in. We went to Leandra’s house and talked everything over with her parents. They wanted us to wait, but they understood that we were ready. They gave us about 50 gold coins and Leandra grabbed her packed bag. They gave each of us hugs before we left.
“This doesn’t mean you have to stay away forever,” Leandra’s mom said. “All three of you will always have a home here.”
I didn’t even try to hold back the tears that began streaming down my face. It felt good to be accepted. We headed out the door, and as we stepped into Leandra’s lawn, a giant, clockwork bat swooped down to greet us.
“Is it dangerous?” Leandra asked.
“I don’t know,” I answered sincerely.
“It’s beautiful!” Eliana said, approaching it.
Eliana reached out to touch its head, responding like she was petting an actual bat. Her hand started to glow, and it lowered its head to the ground and revealed a seating area in its back.
“Did you do that?” I asked Eliana.
“Yeah, it seems like it responds to creation magic,” she explained.
“Well, this feels too convenient,” Leandra said suspiciously.
“Don’t be so paranoid,” I said. “Who even knew we were planning to leave? This looks like a very cool way to make it to Anglachel.”
“I agree,” Eliana said. “It feels like it came here to see us. I don’t think it wants to hurt us. I can communicate with it a little bit with my magic.”
“Are you sure?” Leandra asked.
“Yeah,” Eliana responded. “I think so.”
“Of course it’s safe!” I declared. “This is our destiny, right? Maybe the world is finally working in our favor!”
“O.K.” Leandra relented. “But I’m blaming you guys if this thing kills us.”
“This is so cool!” I yelled as I ran up to the clockwork bat.
These stories serve as inspiration for the upcoming short story collection, Tyranny of the Fey. The collection will be released in Fall 2023. You can get a $1 preview now!