This isn’t an excerpt from my novel, currently called DREAM BROTHER, but rather a short snippet I wrote as an exercise while I was in the midst of finishing my first draft. It was written from a timed challenge I did with my teen writing group, and the title of it was the prompt. We were using the title of a random book chapter at the time. If you recognize the chapter name, you’ll know where it came from. This snippet is from an alternate POV of probably my favorite character from the book. Their name is Jae.
Jae had recognized it right away. Not that they knew what “it” was exactly, but it was something. Something familiar, unbelievably comfortable, terrifying, chaotic, beautiful, and—whatever, did it actually matter? The unavoidable truth was that this was a person they desperately wanted to know, and that was something that hadn’t happened in a really long time. Obviously this was a nightmare. Desperation was never a good look as far as Jae was concerned. They had permanently sworn off desperation in middle school.
So how it was that Jae came to be standing alone on the sidewalk, on the middle of Main Street for fuck’s sake, staring through a quaint iron gate at a quaint set of stone steps leading up a quaint little hill to the goddamn quaintest Victorian mansion in town, in order to insert themself, uninvited, on some kind of tripped-out Percy Jackson quest to another fucking world was just… well, the most humliating question Jae could have possibly contemplated.
The question Jae could be asking themselves is whether it was too late to bail. It wasn’t. They could send a single text and call the whole thing off right now. Even better, they could just walk away. It would be easy, really. The cracked pavement stretched out in front of them, daring them to take a step. It was the easiest thing in the world. If they started walking right now, nobody would even know they’d been here. They could walk away from this beautiful, outrageous mess and go back to the way things were before. Just one step, and they’d be on their way.
Then her voice was there, unmistakable in the slow, lazy air of a crisp Saturday morning, and Jae was tangled up again in the invisible thread that had wound so tight around them just days before. It really was a nightmare.
Jae sipped their coffee and smiled.