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My writing and art! Main @cjadewyton and polished work on @jade-wyton

Posts tagged mywriting:

‘What was their name, Q?’ Coi’Lili lent heavier on the fence, leaning forward so he could look Jaisa in the eye. ‘You are smiling now.’

‘Its name is Batni.’

‘Its, Q?’

‘Yes, that’s its pronouns,’ Jaisa responded, a humoured snort escaping through xer gills. ‘We don’t all use xie and them, you know. The whole point is we’re not some sort of binary. He, she, fae, hir, sie, ve, its. … There’s hundreds of options. Xie and them are just common and easy to use in front of land-dwellers, that’s all.’

‘I see,’ Coi’Lili gave a nod and ruffled his feathers. ‘And xie is what you prefer, Q? There is nothing else, Q? Because if there is something else I am more than happy to use it for you.’

‘Yeah, nah,’ Jaisa shrugged. ‘Xie is fine. I don’t think you could pronounce my pronouns in Seces.’

‘I am part avio, my sweet lovely one,’ Coi’Lili responded. ‘And I have my speaker. I would be able to pronounce anything. Maybe even better than you.’

Jaisa let out another gill-snort before turning to Coi’Lili. ‘Alright,’ xie said. ‘Try this one, then.’

A short whistle came from xer gills, echoing like it was being whistled twice as xie opened and closed xer mouth. Then xie clamped xer gills gown down with a wet slapping noise and grinned.

‘That is your pronoun, Q?’ he opened his mouth and the noise echoed out of him, perfectly mimicked. ‘That is not to hard to say, my dear.’

‘Works as both personal and possessive,’ xie said. ‘But I doubt the wolvens around here could pronounce it without bordering on offencive, so I prefer to just use xie and xer on land.’

‘If that is your wish, I will respect it,’ Coi’Lili gave xer a gentle nod. ‘But if you change your mind do not hesitate to let me know. It is nothing hard for me and I am more than happy to do it.’

‘Thanks,’ Jaisa replied, resting xer chin on the fence and staring into the pond longingly. After a moment xie eyed Coi’Lili. ‘Do you think I would get in trouble?’

‘For your pronouns, Q?’ he gasped. ‘Oh, no no no! Queen Distro would never allow that!’

‘I meant if I jumped into the pond,’ Jaisa clarified. ‘Do you think I would get into trouble if I went for a swim?’


‘I think if I’ve learnt anything, it’s that Gavin likes food regardless of flavour,’ Dale joked. ‘I think he’d eat clay if you’d let him.’

‘He used to,’ Talia replied, the edge gone from her voice. ‘He didn’t grow out of it until he was eight. Eight years old and he was eating dirt.’

‘To be fair, I think I can recall you doing the same!’

‘Oh please; it was the worms I was interested in, not the dirt.’


‘I’m going to ignore you, now,’ said Ka’harja as he turned away. ‘Nothing personal, I just don’t want to hear you speak ever again.’


‘What are you going to call him?’ Tru’man asked.

‘I haven’t thought about that. I thought Linzor would. …’

‘Har’py law says that if one of you is the leader of the troop, the other gets to pick the child’s first name,’ Tru’man reminded her. ‘If Linzor wants him to share his last name he’ll have to give you the right to an unquestioned first name.’

Scaychie snorted a laugh. ‘Is that how it works?’

‘It will be if I ask my kekik to tell him that,’ Tru’man grinned. ‘So think of a good name for him!’

‘Or her.’

‘Geoff’Selulu knows its a boy,’ Tru’man replied, his wings stiffening as he sat up straighter; a proud look on his face.

Scaychie laughed at that. ‘I really like the name Kikimarsu for a girl.’

‘Which he’s not, so you need a boy’s name.’

‘Okay. Okay. … Harnlix. After my father.’


"This eventually led to her stepping down willingly from the position as ruler, which changed the power dynamic of the Heck’ne greatly and was the first step to the Har’py tradition “kan mup mala’kala,” or “eat the bad Prophet,” which is rather self-explanatory."


Hayt! Paying the universe forward for something nice Toro did for her once (and unbeknownst to her, she's actually helping Toro's daughter!)

1st excerpt is 200 words, 2nd is 90 words!


‘What’s your name?’

She doesn’t respond.

‘I can wait all day.’

‘Hayt.’

‘Well, Hayt. I need that coin purse back.’

Hayt begrudgingly hands it over.

‘I shouldn’t, but I believe in second chances,’ he says as he takes back the coin purse. ‘So get going back to your parents.’

‘Don’t patronise me, fat-man,’ Hayt mumbles under her breath as she walks away.

Toro laughs, and the kid’s tail fluffs out when she realises he’d heard her.

‘Good mouth on you!’ he laughs. ‘Now get before I mistake you for one of my own kids and take you home with me!’

Hayt looks at him for a second, then a sly smirk appears on her face. ‘How did someone as ugly as you find a girl who’d let you have kids with her?’

Toro scoffs, then laughs.

Hayt gives him the finger, but he sees her grinning playfully and knows she’s just being a cheeky felinic kid.

‘Alright, move off before I change my mind.’

‘Hah, right,’ Hayt snorted. ‘So what? Do I owe you something now?’

‘Nah,’ Toro shook his head. ‘I’m just being a decent person. Just pay it forward when you can. … Pretend you owe the universe.’

~~~~

‘You’ve done a lot for me,’ she sighs. ‘Is there anything I can do to thank you?’

‘I’m just paying forward,’ Hayt responds. ‘It’s a bit of a thing I have going on. Do something nice for someone so maybe they’ll do something nice for someone else. You know.’

‘That’s a nice idea,’ Ka’tassah grins. ‘Doesn’t sound like it came from this area.’

‘Some old guy did it for me once. Felt good. Pretty sure it made me a better person. So I make sure I do the same.’


Though sexual dimorphism in harpies is often used to quickly identify the biological sex of a harpy, it is common to be corrected on pronoun usage by niritaka (transgender) or haykafica (intersex) harpy. Haykafica harpy make up roughly 3% of the known Heck’ne population, and niritaka make up almost 10% of the population. Niritaka are most common in harpy families that socialise with the local seces people, though they are found across Heck’ne and their high population in areas with seces is simply put down to having a better education of gender identity.


‘I could go home.’

Tru’man hesitated. ‘Wh-What?’

‘Das,’ she said slowly. ‘I … want to leave Heck’ne too. I feel so. … Unalive here. I need to heal.’

Tru’man reluctantly looked around, then sighed. ‘I understand. … Go. Be happy and … visit me?’

‘Of course I will,’ Scaychie smiled warmly, and wrapped her arms and wings around Tru’man. ‘I will heal and then come back for you.’

Tru’man blushed, and they gave a gentle kiss. ‘I’m too scared to say goodbye. … Leave without telling me when. It will be easier.’

‘Are you sure?’ Scaychie asked.

‘If you tell me when I … might not be strong enough to let you go.’


Ka'harja's Journey, Chapter 7 excerpt:

‘Well, uh—’

Before he could get the words out of his mouth, Annanyn plopped herself between the pair and offered them both fish from her complicated-looking platter. As she turned to Ka’harja her face pulled in a grimace. ‘What’s that smell?’

‘What smell?’ Sken asked.

‘Smells like mouldy cloth,’ Annanyn muttered, sniffing at the air. ‘I think someone’s cast magic here recently.’

‘What?’ Ka’harja laughed. ‘What are you talking about?’

Annanyn was too busy sniffing to respond, so Sken answered for her. ‘She’s an aura sensor. She can smell magic.’

‘Smell magic?’ Ka’harja echoed. ‘I though aura sensors … sensed magic.’

‘Smell is a sense,’ Sken scoffed, rolling her eyes and grinning playfully. ‘Every aura sensor is different. Annanyn smells it. … What sort of magic is it, puddle-hopper?’


‘Do you want me to do the frown?’

Distro snorted with surprise and turned back to the young felinic. She’d forgotten she was having her portrait painted. ‘If you like, Penel. As long as I look gay.’

‘You always look gay, your majesty,’ said Penel. ‘You exude it like an aura. I admit I’m jealous. How do you do it?’

‘Years of practice,’ Distro felt herself grinning. ‘But perhaps I can give you some pointers?’

‘Perhaps,’ Penel’s eyes flashed impishly as she washed the paint from her brush. ‘Anyway, seeing as you’ve moved around, now seems like a good time to take a break with this. I’ll go get some food and then we can continue?’

‘I think I’ve had enough for today,’ Distro replied. ‘I’ve got a few things I need to do.’

‘Serious things that make you frown?’ Penel asked, giving a playful shake of her head and clicking her tongue. ‘Tsk, tsk. That’s not very swag of you.’

‘Don’t tell me what’s swag!’ Distro retorted. ‘I’ve been swag for over two thousand years!’

‘You’ve been a lot of things for over two thousand years,’ the girl teased as she scooped her things into her bag. ‘But swag is not one of them. Should I come back tomorrow or. …’

The queen’s twitched an ear as Penel’s gaze shifted and she fell silent. There was a raspy whimper and Distro turned to see a wide-eyed seces shivering in the doorway.

‘Good evening, Jaisa,’ Distro greeted gently. ‘I’m glad you’re awake. Are you alright? Do you want to sit down?’


Almost all naga have flat noses with broad bridges. This aids in above-water breathing and makes their sense of smell very strong both on land and underwater. When underwater, naga smell by exhaling through their nose; this breath is trapped by mucus and remains attached to the naga’s face as a large bubble until they choose to inhale them again. Naga can make mucus bubbles while above water, but most choose not to because most land-dwelling Sentients find them unappealing and “gross.”


‘Hey, no, Richard can be strict,’ Dale replied. ‘Example: I kept telling Gav not to put his stuff in the walkway. So many times! And still, there it was, in the middle of the hall. Then Dick comes over, and POOF! Gone as if by magic! I don’t know what he said to the kid, but it worked.’

‘Probably “please”,’ Anna piped up. ‘Always works for me.’

Talia shook her head as a loud slurp followed, and Dale peaked in the rear view mirror to catch a glimpse of Anna meeting his eye as she drank her frozen cola.

‘You’re special though,’ he retorted. ‘Gav knows you’ll tell on him if he misbehaves.’

‘What, and you wouldn’t tell me?’ Talia scoffed.

‘I mean, depends on what he did and if he blackmailed me into not telling!’ Dale joked. ‘That kid knows how to dig up dirt.’

‘Ooh, boy, does he ever!’ Trish responded. ‘Big feel though. I don’t report anything back unless I have to.’

‘I can’t believe I let you two watch him,’ Talia rolled her eyes. ‘Well, congratulations. I certainly feel better about him being with Richard now. Not so much about ever leaving him with either of you two again!’

Anna’s next slurp was comically loud, and her shit-eating grin told Dale it was deliberately so. Then her eyes widened. ‘Oh, wow. That’s your house, Dale?’


The Dassen Origin is a story known by both dassen and zokex races. It’s a tale that took place before the awakening of The Goddess Scara, back when Das was still whole and unshattered by the Island Mover. It’s the tale of a shape shifting zokex, named Adoration, who started a nurlak-worshipping cult. The cult did a lot of morally questionably actions during their formative years and, after being banished from zokex society, moved on to outright horrible acts. Their most famous crime was the mutilation and murder of a young nurlak child whose body they used to create a form-changing potion. This potion was supposed to turn the members of the cult into nurlaks, but due to the brutal nature of the murder, the ancient nurlak gods punished the zokex and their potion only half-worked, leaving them stuck halfway between nurlak and zokex; the first dassens.

[also my fave paragraph from the story's below the cut]

cw: gore / death

It wasn’t long before the cult began to test their boundaries, and Adoration did the unforgivable. The old sun set in orange and pink, and in the dimming light of the night she stole a nurlak out a temple’s window. A child, no more than a decade old, who was stripped of their skin while still alive and torn apart by the ravenous dragons. The blood and flesh of the young one was used to create a serum of change. Magic imbued into them from the gory ritual, the zokex shared the foul drink and called to the nurlak gods for their rewards. The serpents were disgusted.


Elli, a Canis diplomat, married one of Konde's princes to help make a peace treaty. Then she goes and screws it up by having an affair with the prince of Canis. Needless to say, it's a drama that causes a very serious meeting between the two kingdoms.

Distro, though, knows how to diffuse a room.

200 words

‘If we are seeking forgiveness for our past mistakes from our allies, doesn’t it make sense to offer them the same curtesy?’

Nirine stared at her son in disbelief as her court muttered disapprovingly. Elli could feel their gazes boring into her. As well as the gazes of the Canis diplomats. The only eyes she could see that didn’t look like daggers were Ykelt’s— And Distro’s.

Distro was shaking her head, but her gaze was soft and forgiving. Then she took a deep breath and addressed the room. ‘He’s right, and I’m willing to forgive you, Nirine.’

‘You— Excuse me?’

The room began to mutter, and Elli was stunned. What?

‘I’m willing to forgive you, for the actions of your daughter-in-law,’ Distro clarified, grinning widely. ‘She seduced my grandson, you see. And now we’re caught in this slurry of political drama. And I just want you to know I forgive you. And I especially forgive your son for not keeping her satisfied— If you know what I mean!

The comical wink Distro gave made the room fall silent.

Then Sensin’s mother laughed, and shook her head. ‘You forgive him for. ... Oh, Distro! Oh, Goddess, Distro.’


‘Ah, yeah, I didn’t think those two got along much,’ Ka’harja replied. ‘Did something happen between them?’

Coff shook his head. ‘N-No. They just— They just— Just—‘

‘Just don’t get along?’ Ka’harja offered.

Coff bit his lip and nodded. ‘Y-Yea—’

‘—HAH!’ Distro’s laugh cut in from above, and the boys turned to see her, Denni, and Dena staring down at them from the top of the hill. ‘GAAAAY!’

‘THAT’S THE POINT!’ Ka’harja shouted back as his mother began her way down towards him. ‘Aw, no, what does she want— THIS IS A PRIVATE CONVERSATION! GO AWAY!’

‘YOU SKIPPED BREAKFAST!’ Distro pointed to Denni, who brandished a loaf of bread high above her head. ‘BUT IF YOU’RE GOING TO BE UNGRATEFUL, THEN FINE! DENNI?’

The loaf of bread sailed in a perfect arc through the air and Ka’harja didn’t have time to respond before it hit him full in the face.

‘Ow!’ Ka’harja exclaimed, dramatically motioning from his face to the bread. ‘Seriously? SERIOUSLY?’

‘LOVE YOU!’ his mother called back. Then she headed back up the hill and put an arm around each of her friends, leading them both back towards camp.

‘Gods! I swear! Sometimes she’s just— UGH!’ Ka’harja flopped onto his back and gave a groan. ‘Sorry about her.’


‘I came to Canis,’ Wryn said. ‘I can’t go to jail here for a crime I committed in another country; unless that country puts out an International Warrant. Which they haven’t. I keep up to date just in case.’

‘Where will you go if they do?’ Ell’ian asked.

‘Labuntur’s my backup,’ Wryn admitted. ‘It’s not in the Alliance, so International Warrants aren’t valid there. I already have a plot of land in my name —it’s where everyone else moved, actually— if it wasn’t for my Popa and grandchildren I’d have moved in with them already. Plus I have to look out for you,’ she ruffled Toro’s hair. ‘I owe that to your ma’, don’t I?’


The first draft of a fight that Linzor starts. This time he's being blatantly manipulative with people.

And even though it's blatant, and she KNOWS what he's doing, it still works to make poor Elli doubt herself.

370 words

cw: abuse / manipulation / fighting / violence

‘You’re scared!’ Linzor growled. ‘You’re scared that Elli and I are going to run off together!’

‘No I’m not I just— You’re a creep!’

‘Zen’efay! I knew it! You don’t trust her, but you can’t admit it!’ Linzor hissed. ‘So of course I’m the villain! Never mind that I’ve been her only loyal friend for years! Her sister and her boyfriend run off together, her mother marries her off, her husband neglects her so much she turns to another man— Who stabs her in the back and blurts about it to everyone!’

Elli could feel her heart racing as Linzor stepped closer to her husband. She could barely breathe as Linzor continued.

‘If I was with Elli I would never have her stray!’ Linzor declared. ‘I’d treat her as she deserved and make sure she behaved! Unlike you!

Sensin’s fist met Linzor’s jaw with a loud crack, and the dassen stumbled back a pace.

The room gasped, as did Elli. She was so shocked by Sensin that she almost forgot to be surprised that Linzor was still standing.

Almost.

But then he looked up at the wolven, his eyes burning with the same seething hatred that Elli had only seen the night he’d almost killed Ykelt, and when he lowered his head Elli felt herself screaming as she leapt between the two men.

‘NO!’

To her surprise, nothing happened.

Slowly, she dared to wink open an eye, and saw as Linzor’s horns —which had stopped only millimetres from her throat— were pulled away. She felt Linzor brush the tips along her cheek as he moved to stand straight, his anger seemingly gone as he gave Elli a familiar look. It was cool enough that people who didn’t know him might think it was reserved, or indifferent. … But Elli recognised it. It was the same look he’d given Keeyata after she’d burnt herself on the stove. … The same look that he’d given Ziu after her favourite glass eye had gone missing from her room. …

He was entertained.

He was having fun.

He made it physical,’ Linzor said plainly, his voice echoing through the silent room as he turned and made for the door. ‘I pray that’s not how he is when you two argue.’


Little Centela is a good Har'py which means he is NOT a liar and will get VERY upset if it's implied he's not telling the truth.

Kaka mia mal sasao! Don't whisper what you won't scream!

600 words

cw: death mention

‘I hate baths,’ he muttered. ‘I want to lie in the dirt!’

Sensin shrugged. ‘You’re going to have to have a bath when you’re done in the dirt. You won’t be allowed in the dining hall like that.’

‘I can get my own food,’ Centela declared, jumping at the base of the tree and digging. He scrabbled until he was able to pull out a small root, and began chewing. ‘Mmmfee?’

‘Spit that out!’ Sensin exclaimed.

‘Mno,’ Centy grumbled, clambering around the tree so Sensin couldn’t grab him. ‘Itf mimne!’

‘Papa, he’s so clever!’ Mingan exclaimed. ‘I wish I knew how to find food like that!’

Centela felt his scales warm with pride, and felt his chest tighten as he instinctively stood up straight. He pulled the root out of his mouth and quietly stepped out from behind the tree.

‘I can teach you,’ he told her. ‘It’s not so hard. You got to be careful not to eat poison stuff. That’s all! If you eat poison stuff you’ll die and be thrown into a ga’oa so goblins get to eat you!’

‘No you won’t—’ Sensin lunged for Centela, just barely managing to catch him. ‘You’ll go to the healers until you get better.’

‘If you get better!’ Centela exclaimed. ‘If you don’t throw up your whole stomach and have your lungs explode! I’ve seen it! It’s gross and you won’t even make it to the healers before you die!’

Mingan gasped, and hid behind her wings as her father hefted Centela off the ground.

‘Stop scaring her, Centela,’ he grunted.

‘Stop lying to her!’ Centela retorted. ‘If she thinks poison’ll not kill her then she’ll eat poison and die and you’ll have to live knowing you killed your zelkin! I’m helping you not be a murderer! You hakalika balak!’

Sensin hesitated, then let out a deep sigh and pulled Centela into his chest to keep him steady. ‘You don’t need to be so graphic about it.’

‘But it’s what happens!’ Centela defended. ‘It’s as bad as a spider sting!’

Sensin sighed. ‘Again with spiders. You really don’t like them, do you?’

‘Why would I?’ Centela exclaimed. ‘They’re big and mean and eat us whenever they can! With lots of stingers and legs and big big fangs!’

Mingan let out another gasp. ‘Like in your drawing!’

Centela nodded. ‘Uhuh! Only I’m not a good artist like you, so I can’t draw them right! They’re BIGGER than my drawing! So big they could swallow your stepapa Sensin whole!’

Mingan whimpered, and collapsed backwards into her chair. ‘Not stepapa!’

‘Uh-huh!’

‘Nuh-uh,’ Sensin replied. ‘There are no spiders that eat people.’

‘YEAH THERE ARE!’ Centela shouted. ‘I’M NOT A LIAR! IF YOU THINK I’M A LIAR THEN YOU CAN GO TO HECK’NE WHEN MY YALFIT PICKS ME UP INSTEAD! THEN YOU CAN LIVE WITH THE SPIDERS INSTEAD!’

‘Stop that,’ Sensin sighed, dumping Centela into the wheelchair beside Mingan.

‘No!’ Centela pouted. ‘I’m not a liar! Apologise for saying I was a liar!’

‘I didn’t call you a liar—‘

‘—YES YOU DID AND YOU HAVE TO APOLOGISE OR I’LL HAVE TO FIGHT YOU IN GRA GA’HOO DA!’ Centela screamed. ‘AND I REALLY LIKE YOU SO DON’T MAKE ME HAVE TO KILL YOU BECAUSE I WILL WIN! AND THEN YOU’LL BE SORRY BUT IT WILL BE TOO LATE BECAUSE YOU’LL BE DEAD! I DON’T MAKE UP STORIES! KAKA MIA MAL SASAO! KAKA! MIA! MAL! SASAO!’

‘Alright,’ Sensin gave a heavy sigh, and pet Centela’s head until he quietened down. ‘I’m sorry for saying you were making things up.’

Centela crossed his arms and turned away. ‘Don’t call me a liar again.’


(sorry for screenshot format)

just some first draft excerpts from A Man Worth a Million, as I'm really happy with my progress so far!

very mild implied nsfw on a couple of them (but nothing big)


Dale doesn't realise Trish is a lesbian (again)

From chapter 9 of A Man Worth a Million

140 words

‘What about work?’

‘Work can suck it!’ Dale laughed. ‘I have new friends now! Who needs Dick when you have girls like you and Anna?’

‘Wow, you sound just like Trish,’ Talia snickered. ‘Can’t count how many times I’ve heard her say that.’

‘Doesn’t she like Richard?’ Dale asked. ‘I thought she did?’

‘N— No she does,’ Talia bit her lip. ‘She’s. … I was just cracking wise. Don’t worry about it.’

Dale shrugged. ‘Alright? But if she’s got a problem with Dick you can tell me.’

He wasn’t sure why Talia snickered, but she shook her head and waved a hand to dismiss him as he led her to the cafeteria, so he didn’t ask about it. Though maybe he—

‘Zoey!’ he called, immediately distracted by the girl serving at the counter. ‘Hey! How’ve you been?’


‘Hey, I know someone else who knows Trish—’ Dale quickly stepped away, and Talia and Tiffany were left giggling together until he came back with Zoey. ‘This is Zoey, she went to … uni? With Trish. Zoe, this is Tiffany. She’s a friend of mine, and I also found out she’s friends with Trish.’

‘You gay?’ Zoey asked, so suddenly that Dale choked on his drink.

‘Bit bisexual, yeah.’

‘Girls in suits, am I right?’

‘Consider, girls in summer dresses.’

‘Girls in leather jackets are pretty great.’

‘I have a leather jacket.’

They fist-bumped, and then walked off together, chatting.


SCREAMS

OKAY I FINISHED IT!!

I'll do proofreading for typos and formatting errors tomorrow, but for tonight it's DONE.

76 pages.

Read the whole thing here: https://cjadewyton.com/my-writing/my-girlfriend-is-a-seagull/


‘Hello! I am Keemi’Keemi! I am serving drinks today!’ the avio gave a happy flap of her wings.

‘I’m Stars!’ Stars’ face lit up. ‘And this is Koko, Baku, Lif, Trat, Sken, Annanyn, Coborn, and my best friend— Ka’harja!’

‘Oh best friend!’ Keemi’Keemi beamed. ‘I have seven those! They very fun have! Lots and lots of love!’

Stars nodded. ‘Is it okay if I ask what keemi means, Q?’

‘Oh, yes! Very okay!’ Keemi’Keemi nodded. ‘Keemi when you small, and parents give you three kisses on nose to make giggles!’

‘So your name is …’ Ka’harja hesitated.

‘Six giggle kisses!’ Keemi’Keemi beamed.


Ka'harja's Journey, Chapter 9 (WIP)

Ka'harja falls in a river and is pulled out by Sken. The following conversation is as awkward as those two always are when put together.

500 words

‘Get off me!’ wiggling as much as he could, Ka’harja managed to escape his mother’s grip and fled through the caravans towards the river. He couldn’t hear anyone following him as he made it to the incline and dared to slow down. Then he glanced back and was relieved to see nobody behind him. ‘Oh, thank the Eighth child of the Ninth,’ he breathed, stumbling down the hill. Then he slipped and tumbled the whole way down before splashing into the water with another loud cry. He flailed for a moment before something heavy knocked the wind out of him. In the second it took him to compose himself, something grabbed him and flipped him upright, pushing him up and out of the river again. ‘Scara, Ka’harja, are you trying to drown yourself!’ Sken’s voice snapped. ‘Stop struggling!’ ‘Sk— Sken?’ Ka’harja managed as he was hefted out of the water and dropped heavily on the muddy bank by— By an almost completely naked Sken! ‘I— I’m gay!’ ‘Yes, I know that,’ Sken grunted, dropping on the bank next to Ka’harja and rubbing her cheek. ‘You also have a real good kick in you.’ ‘I kicked you?’ cogs turning in his head, it took Ka’harja a moment to realise exactly what had just happened. ‘Oh, oh Great Star I’m so sorry I didn’t mean to—’ ‘—Yeah, yeah, I know,’ Sken cut Ka’harja off with a humoured snort. ‘You never mean to freak out. What happened?’ ‘Mum spat on me,’ Ka’harja explained, making the mistake of glancing over himself and the seces. ‘Uh. Your underwear.’ ‘What about my underwear?’ ‘I can see them?’ ‘Well, yeah,’ Sken snorted. ‘Can’t exactly swim properly in jeans.’ ‘Ah. I see,’ he gave a short nod. ‘They’re, uh, pink?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘I didn’t think you liked pink much,’ Ka’harja admitted. ‘I thought you’d be more of a … a purple girl.’ ‘Ugh, purple,’ Sken rolled her eyes. ‘My school uniform was purple. It was a horrible, ugly shade of the colour, too.’ ‘You went to school?’ ‘Had to get smarter than you somehow, didn’t I?’ Sken grinned before leaning back and letting out a long, heavy sigh. ‘I used to hate pink. It’s what I was assigned at birth, you know.’ ‘You were assigned a colour?’ ‘Yeah, all seces are. Makes up for not being given a gender, I guess,’ Sken’s gills gave a pop and she grinned widely. ‘Though, a seces’ colour is meant to be a private thing and we’re only meant to tell people we’re close to. Never really bought into that, though. … Anyway, you all done drowning?’ ‘Pretty sure I’m done,’ Ka’harja felt himself chuckling as Sken punched him in the shoulder and pushed herself up. He watched as she disappeared back into the river and … wasn’t entirely sure what to do next. He didn’t want to go back to his mother. Not if she was going to spit on him again. And he wasn’t sure Coff was ready to talk to him yet. Though it was all he wanted to do.


‘Hey— No, no!’ Ka’harja leapt to his feet and raised his hands defensively. ‘You guys can’t bully me!’ ‘Crock!’ Distro gave a wicked grin and made to stand up. ‘We can absolutely bully you!’ ‘NO!’ Ka’harja didn’t mean for it to come out as a shriek, but the entire room had taken cue from his mother and suddenly advanced on him— And he was only half out the door before he felt his mother leap onto his back and whoop like she was taming a wild horse. He nearly slipped down the last step as her weight slammed into him and stumbled along the damp grass for a minute before Distro’s arms wrapped around his face and he couldn’t see where he was going. ‘Git ‘im, Distro!’ ‘No! Stop getting me!’ Ka’harja exclaimed. Then he tripped and fell, the weight on his back pulling him down sideways. ‘Aw, FUCK!’ Distro exclaimed as Ka’harja landed on her. ‘Elbow— ELBOW!’ Ka’harja rolled off her and she let out a gasp, gripping her stomach and rolling over to catch her breath. ‘Y’kay, Distro?’ Denni called. ‘Yeah, fine,’ Distro replied. ‘Serves you right,’ Ka’harja joked, rolling to his feet and offering his mother a hand. ‘I’m a sensitive boy, you know!’ Right as he said it he met eyes with Coff, and felt like an idiot. But then Coff smiled and he felt a little less like an idiot. … And then his mother yanked him onto the ground again and started sticking her fingers in his ears, and the shriek he let out made him feel stupider than ever. ‘Let me go!’ he cried. ‘I’m fragile! I’M FRAGILE!’ ‘Crock!’ Distro retorted before making a throaty snort— And Ka’harja screamed as spit made its way down the back of his neck. ‘DISGUSTING!’ his voice rose so high it hurt his ears. ‘YOU’RE DISGUSTING!’ ‘You’re the one with spit on you.’ ‘Get off me!’ wiggling as much as he could, Ka’harja managed to escape his mother’s grip and fled through the caravans towards the river. He couldn’t hear her following him and he slowed as he made it to the incline, turning to see nobody behind him. ‘Oh, thank the Eighth child of the Ninth,’ he breathed, stumbling down the hill. Then he slipped and tumbled the whole way down before splashing into the river with another loud cry.


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