“Only Make-Believe” (Fae Anthology, July 2014)

Robin, who looks like a faun when he isn’t hiding himself with glamour magic, has tried to make a life for himself since his parents abandoned him in the human world. When he meets a girl with magic of her own, he has to navigate identity, loneliness, and teenage hormones.

Excerpt:

Usually I was better at emulating normal people, but a lot was at stake here. Yes, she was cute, but that wasn’t it. I’d never had anyone to talk to about me, about magic, about anything—not since my parents left me.

She shot me a thoroughly unimpressed look. I wondered why she couldn’t see my glamour, that there was something different about me, the way I could sense it all over her.

I tried again. “Look, I promise I’m not hitting on you. I just really need to talk to you about something.”

“What’s that?” Her delicate chin lifted in challenge.

“Magic.” Speaking the word out loud to someone made me dizzy.

Her eyes narrowed, crinkling the bridge of her nose. I could like freckles, I thought. “You’re full of it,” she said, but she leaned closer and I knew I had her.

I held out my hand.

She stared at it, then at me. I wondered if I’d crossed a line, but then she placed her hand in mine.

If I blew it, she’d probably avoid me forever and I would go mad knowing I’d been so close and lost my chance. I pursed my lips, exhaled, then pulled her after me into the rain. I could barely bring myself to look at her in case it hadn’t worked.

But it had.

The rain fell around her, but her hair, her clothes, were perfectly dry. She spun in gleeful circles. From the look on her face, she’d clearly never seen magic before. Maybe she’d been left here even younger than I had.

“This is crazy,” she said. “There’s no way.”

“You believe me?”

“I’ve waited my whole life for magic.” Her voice quavered. “How did you know?”

“You’ve got magic of your own. I knew it when I saw you. That’s why I had to tell you.”

From the curb, a car honked. She bobbed in an impatient, frustrated dance. “Aw, crap. I have to go.”

“Tomorrow?” I asked. “This weekend?”

“Friday. After school. I’m Nadia, by the way—”

“Robin.” I waved at her, dropping the glamour on her as I did, and she shrieked as she realized the water had soaked her clothes. It was a good-natured short of shriek, like children jumping through puddles, and she actually stuck her tongue out at me before dashing through the rain toward her car.

(Fae Anthology, Word Weaver Press, July 2014)

“Green” (Cicada Magazine, Sept./Oct. 2011)

A short story about a young homeless boy, Theo, whose magic or mental illness — he’s not entirely sure which — prevents him from living a normal life. He is taken in by a pair of kind strangers who soon learn they’ve gotten in a little over their heads.

Excerpt:

The world convulsed around him, and Theo sank back against an old concrete wall. He pressed his knuckles to his temples and wished that everything would just stop. Wishing, praying, never helped, but he tried anyway. His vision blurred.

It didn’t stop.

Wide-eyed, he watched the empty alleyway as pavement buckled and buildings swayed. A distant car alarm began to wail.

Above him, the windows of the building shattered. Theo threw himself to the ground and shielded his head with his arms as glass slivers rained down on him. The earth ripped open, slashing through the alley. Bricks and stones disappeared into the abyss. He bit back a scream.

“Hey,” a voice said.

The world stopped shaking.

Panicked, Theo tried–and failed–to get up. For a moment he thought he might pass out. A woman with spiked green hair and three rings in her right eyebrow stood a few paces away. The alley looked as it had before–no glass, no crumpled buildings, no chasm.

“Hey, kid,” the woman said again as Theo brought a bleeding finger up to his mouth. “Don’t do that. It’s filthy. You’ll make yourself sick.”

Her eyes were bright and inquisitive, the eyes of someone who meant well, who might buy him dinner or take him in for a night or two if she figured out he had nowhere else to go. That never, ever ended well.

Theo pushed himself to his feet, favoring his injured hand. He rubbed his finger against the side of his jeans, smearing blood over caked dirt. “Yeah, whatever.”

The woman pulled a Band-Aid from her denim purse. “Here. If it gets infected, you’ll be sorry. Doctors aren’t cheap.”

“Yeah,” he said again, taking it. He shouldered his backpack, dusted off his jeans as if he cared about them, and tried to move past her. “Thanks.”

Her footsteps followed along behind him. “You need a ride somewhere? A bus pass?”

No–he needed sleep and maybe something to eat. The way he felt now, it could happen again, any moment. His mind oozed slowly between thoughts, trying to find a way to talk her into buying him food and then leaving. The last thing he needed was another episode with her around.

He stumbled instead, and she was there to support him.

“Kid,” she said, sounding amused but worried, “you all right?” She leaned in closer, checking his breath for alcohol. He clung to her, knowing she’d smell nothing but dirt and sweat.

“What’s your name?” he murmured. She smelled nice, spicy and almost green, like her hair.

She laughed, surprised. “Eve.”

(Cicada Magazine, Sept./Oct. 2011)