they all pretend they understand: sneak peek

My second novel, Lavender Rose, will be available for purchase September 2021. I’ll be posting updates and the occasional sneak peek for those who are subscribed to my site:

The boy in the mirror looks nothing like me. He has the same thick, ugly round glasses, the same black and white hair, but that’s all I recognize about him. I hate my braces. I’ve had them since I was thirteen, metal and uncomfortable. I’m supposed to wear them for two more years. If I thought I looked like a nerd before, it’s nothing compared to how I feel now. These days, everywhere I look, I see a stranger. Everybody says being a teenager is easy. My mother says it most of all. I don’t mean to be dramatic, but I think it’s the hardest part of my life so far. I don’t know what I’m feeling half the time, or why I’m feeling that way. I have no idea what I want to do with my life, although everyone else seems to have their whole futures figured out.

            “How are you feeling?” I poke my head into my brother’s hospital room. It’s cold, but hospitals always are. “Mom said you had your first treatment today.”

            He smiles, bundled up underneath a thin hospital blanket. “Yeah, I’m not feeling great, but it is what it is.” No one else is here. I expected my mother would be. If it were me in that bed, I’d want to be alone. “What about you? How are things?”

            Ever since Fletcher moved back home, we’ve been spending quite a lot of time together. Even if it’s under bad circumstances, I like having him home. When he isn’t napping, we have fun. I sit on the end of the bed. “I don’t know… same as usual, I guess.” He has an IV in his hand, a pillow fluffed up underneath his head. I’ve never been in the hospital, as a patient. ‘How long do you have to stay here?”

            Nurses are bustling by outside the door. “Only a couple hours, but I have to come back tomorrow. I’m just waiting for my doctor.”  He looks tired, and sounds it, too. “Mom’s coming to pick me up later.” I wish I could drive. A long time ago, my father said he would teach me. I want to own a motorcycle, one day.

            According to Eloise, college football started today. Fletcher says he’s probably not going to be able to play this season. I glance at the IV needle. “Does chemo hurt?”

            “Not really.” Settling back into the pillows, Fletcher seems to get comfortable. A doctor enters the room. I remember Doctor Hart from years ago. He’s a short, bald man, a man serious about his job and patients. Fletcher grins. “Hey, Doc! What’s up?” When they converse, I sneak out of the room. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve always felt awkward about listening in on other people’s conversations.

            Haven always loved dressing up. Her closet was filled with dresses, skirts, sparkles, glitter. Her ballet tutu is still hanging from the back of our door, pink and frilly. Haven was a ballerina, and she was pretty good at it too. Unlike the rest of my siblings, I’ve never been very athletic.

            I take the bus home. When I open the door, I realize nobody else is here. On Haven’s nightstand, there’s still the journal she used to write in every day. It’s pink, covered in glitter and sequins, shut loosely with a silver lock. I never knew where she kept the key. Instead of minding my business, I break into it.

            About six years ago, Eloise told me humans only have five layers of skin, and the last one is purple. I’m ashamed to say I believed that up until a couple years ago. I used to be so afraid of cutting or scraping myself, and I’d never dare pick a scab, just in case I ran out of skin. When I was younger, it was a legitimate fear. It sounds ridiculous, now.

            “Jax?” Larkin stands in the doorway of my room, chewing her fingernails. She does that when she’s scared. “Is Fletcher sick? Daddy says he’s in the hospital.”

            It’s hard to explain things like this to her. I told her about Haven, and she understood, even though my mom said she wouldn’t. “Yeah.” I go to her, and hug her, and spin her through the air. She smiles, and then falls solemn again. “He’s sick.”

            Larkin chews her fingernails again. “Why?”

            “I don’t know.” I’m the only one who will answer her questions. I’m only fourteen. It’s not like I know the answer to everything. “Sometimes people just get sick.”

            “Oh.” She wants to know a lot. Maybe I did too, when I was five. She sits on my bed, her feet dangling off the floor. “When will he get better?”

            Haven’s journal is scratchy in my hands. Her bed is suspended in the air, held up by screws and adorned with blankets and stuffed animals. “I don’t know, Larkin.”

            She falls silent. Tugging on the sleeve of her purple dress, she watches me.

dopamine man.

you’re fucked up –
    a twister of
        nothingness and ruin

being sick on the side             of the road
    + broken-toed

birds half naked
dancing on your lap
–  a hardon
spending all your money on
   hookers and cigarettes
      in london

she said you were destructive :
   a hurricane
   a tidal wave

but you’d rather get high off novacaine

       rails on a countertop
  lines on a basin
     snorting with a girl you
      shagged inside a subway station:

waking up under the sheets
  drenched in sweat
   indiscreet
driving on the wrong side of the road

cheap strip clubs
in paris, france
woke up on the wrong side            of the bed
    knackered out
dopamine man

  see the girl again
    no love
    no friends

breaking through a window in
memphis, tennessee
fingering a girl beside the street
      it gets so loud
         inside your head
             that you can’t even speak

+ drugs aren’t cheap

         but drink a day away.

become a drama author? your life will become a drama.

Apparently, I’m a terrible parent who is not only brainwashing my child, but should also have him taken away from me. The reason for this? I let him wear a dress.

It’s always been extremely upsetting to me how society treats feminine boys. Don’t let them cry, don’t let them dress even slightly “girly”, don’t let them stray from stereotypical gender roles or else they’ll be labelled gay, or girly. As if those are bad things to be. As if the way a person acts or dresses has any bearing whatsoever on their identity. But everything needs to be labelled, so that society feels a bit more comfortable.

My kid’s always been “girly”, whatever that means. He’s always liked wearing dresses and painting his nails. Society is so fragile it can’t stand seeing a boy expressing themselves in ways that are different from anyone else. My son saw a drag show on TV the other day and decided that’s what he wanted to do, so okay, I don’t have a problem with that. He wants to get dressed up and put on his makeup and it makes him feel pretty and happy. Apparently, that’s an issue.

Look, I know I’m a good parent, and no stranger on the internet is going to change my mind on that. Anyway, I really don’t care about the opinions of strangers. What bothers me is the opinions of his family, and that’s what this is all about. Last weekend he wanted to visit his grandma and his father in his dress, wig, and makeup. But he couldn’t. Because his father is uncomfortable. A grown-ass man has masculinity so fragile he’s offended by the clothing choices of a five-year old. I’m told that I’m the problem. I fail to see how that is, in any way, the case.

He isn’t being forced into transgender roles, despite what all my haters on the internet, and even my own family, says. He chooses all his own clothes: things that make him feel happy and comfortable. I’m not confusing him, because he knows exactly who he is, and who the fuck am I to tell him he’s wrong? Who is anybody to tell him he’s wrong? I don’t feel ashamed for forbidding toxic people from seeing him. His own family bullies him into dressing how they want him to dress, how they feel comfortable. But it’s not about them, and it’s not about me. It’s about him, and people need to understand that.

Many think that by allowing him to refuse gender norms, I’m pressuring him into homosexuality or transgenderism. I await the day when society will stop equating clothing to sexuality. Maybe my son is gay, or maybe he just likes dressing up, or maybe he’s just having fun and going through a phase. Who cares? I certainly don’t, as long as he’s happy; my only goal here is to make him feel loved and accepted. I’m not saying people are in the wrong for disagreeing with a certain clothing choice. I’m saying they’re in the wrong for allowing this disagreement to get in the way of their love for the child. Because that’s what happening here.

I love my feminine son. He’s my world, and I’d rather cut off my arm than do anything to make him feel unloved. I’m not the world’s greatest parent by any means. We all just do what we think is best, and sometimes that means butting heads with other people. But I don’t care. Other people shouldn’t, either. Because in the end, whose life is it really?

new project

This week, I finished the final draft of my next novel, Lavender Rose. This means that publishing will officially begin this month, and the book should be released by summer 2021!

I’m quite excited for this one. Lavender Rose is 225 pages of, quite honestly, what I think is my best work. It’s a drama/romance – which of course we all know is my favourite – and I adore it. It follows a family living in Manhattan, searching for their abducted sibling/daughter, battling the terminal illness of another child, trying to come to terms with their sexuality and insecurities.

As most people know, I’m a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community – and I show this in my work. Lavender Rose, though not quite as queer-centric as my last novel, has its closeted characters fighting to accept themselves, and make a name in the world. I’ve begun work on my next novel, a fantasy, which I think will be a very challenging genre for me. I want to challenge myself. I want to become better as a writer.

If you’re interested in the progress of my publication or just looking for more information, follow my blog or social media pages, or feel free to drop me a message!

Thanks for reading, beauties. Have a lovely day.

my first radio interview

Yesterday afternoon, I had the privilege of being interviewed by Ian and Ron from Chat and Spin Radio UK. It was my first radio interview – my first interview of any sort, really – so I was anxious and I babbled, but we all have to start somewhere, right?

I’m scheduled to appear again in February, and I’m hoping since I’ve been on I’ll be a little more prepared this time around. The interview can be listened to at https://m.soundcloud.com/ian-johnson-75/tuesday-15th-december-tuesdays-afternoon-evening-late-show-629pm-9pm-uk-time-part-2#t=1:47:42 around about 1:47:30.

15

cut your arm

like the velveteen slacks you make out of scratch.

with a name dropping –

heart stopping –

rat-a-tat-tat on the window

that fogged from the snow

+ left to his own devices –

he never knows where to go

but he wants to make love

in the hubbub of burning his thumb

on the family stove.

close the window you scoundrel its getting cold

boys like boys

who pierce their lips

+ vape inside a park –

shut your mouth its getting dark.

+ twist his arm

like the wishy washy wishbone

straight from the bird

with a pitter-pat-pat from

the feet of the dog

on the floor where the storm can be heard

but –

the boy likes the boy like

the dog likes the ball

+ he’d rather hold hands

than do nothing at all

but –

he wants to makeout

+ he wants to wake up to –

break one soul.

break them all.

young hearts beating

stickshift breathing

boys like boys who give them reason

young hearts beating

stickshift breathing

boys like boys who dont

the first chapter of a new novel: tales of uspax

Charlize Fournier was always the last to arrive.

Sisters of the Setting Sun met after dark, always, when most of Uspax had fallen asleep. Charlize trudged through the fern and the sludge, her hair flying and leaping out behind her. “My apologies, dearest sisters,” she said, showing herself to the coven. “I was wrought with such unsettling news before my departure. Forgive me.”

Charlize didn’t live alone. She came from a long line of powerful witches, whose lives alone were a threat. Perhaps someday this wouldn’t be the case. For now, Charlize lived as she could: secretive and emerging.

“You are forgiven.” Delta Nightwolf led the coven and mentored its young witches. She was dark, a witch of caliber, inside and out of the coven. “Join us, friend. We are just about to begin.”

It had been ten years since Charlize’s power had begun to emerge. The seventh witch in her generation, she’d been expecting that. Charlize wasn’t yet a fully-fledged witch. The Ceremony was coming fast, leaving her frazzled and doubtful. A witch’s Ceremony was her rite of passage, the transition from apprentice to leader. To all the coven, it was the One Big Event, truly the only one worth waiting for.

The coven stood together, encircled around a fire, hands out warming in the flame. “Are you prepared for your Ceremony, Charlize?” Tinley Wixx asked, her silver hair lit up by the flame. “It’s nearing. It’s oh, such a wonderful journey into the world. I remember my Ceremony.” Tinley’s Ceremony was all the other witch spoke about. The girl was eighteen and newly initiated. Oh, how Charlize longed to be like her!

Charlize took her spot next to Tegan, her closest friend, and the sister of Tinley. “I have been preparing.” A witch only got one Ceremony. It was a necessity to be prepared, for the Ceremony set the tone for the rest of a young woman’s life. As the third-oldest witch in her coven, Charlize had a lot of eyes on her.

“Excellent.” Delta spoke, the ashes of the fire sparking and jumping. “Now that we’re all gathered, let’s begin today’s meeting. I would like to ask: how are you all doing, sisters? We have

not had the opportunity to meet for quite some time. This is my fault. Have any of you discovered anything new about yourselves?”

Delta was a supportive coven leader, though she was rather secretive and spoke little of her personal life. Her Ceremony was years ago, before many things, before even the Event that cumulated in Crepegrum’s birth. Delta had been here since the beginning, she was a wise woman, and she was weathered. She encouraged conversation in the way the Ordinary encouraged the disbelief in witchcraft. Charlize’s own boyfriend was Ordinary. She disliked that.

Bexley Lovejoy was eighteen years old. She stepped forward, a shadow under the moon, and spoke for the first time that evening. “I recognized an emerging Ability in myself.” She had a monotone voice, soft and calm. “I have Clairvoyant Abilities. If I continue to center them, I believe I may someday become a full Clairvoyant, and I would of course use this Ability to bring comfort to all of you, sisters.”

This wasn’t news to Charlize. Outside of the coven, she had close friends in most of her sisters, and Bexley was no exception. Delta smiled, a serene expression on her aged face. “This is wonderful news, Bexley. I hope you will continue to nurture your newfound powers to become the best witch that you can be.”

Tonight was the Awakening. This meant the coven could only meet shortly, as it was illegal not to attend. Charlize knew the High Elves were very particular, enjoying their control and their multitude of Abilities. Charlize had never met the Elves. Travel between factions outside one’s own was forbidden, and Charlize believed it always had been.

There was an aura of death in the air. It was the same aura that accompanied the wars, initiated always by the Dark Witches. It was fortunate for Charlize that she had only lived through one of the many wars Crepegrum had fallen victim to. It was unfortunate that she suspected another was on its way.

“I apologize, sisters.” Delta shuffled, snapping a branch under her heavy foot. “I am afraid we must end our meeting here. The Awakening is about to begin. Already I can sense our brothers and sisters making their way to the ceremony. Let us all accompany one another.”

Every year, the Awakening was mandatory. Every being in every faction across the nation was in attendance, always held separately at the center of each faction. Charlize trailed along after the Sisters, the forest leaves crunching under her feet. Her feet weren’t heavy. As a girl, Charlize was tall and slim and red-haired, the same red hair as every woman in her family. She had no brothers or sisters, and she enjoyed it this way.

The journey from Uspax to Oswaria was long, but Charlize had made it several times. It was where Wing Fulton lived, and Wing knew not of her witchcraft, and so he was forbidden from visiting the nation of the witches. Oswaria was a lawless land, disregarded by the Elves, a carefree place for the Ordinary. Charlize knew their love was against the laws, and so nobody knew of it, and she was always careful not to be seen.

“Rule number two of the nation of Crepegrum,” Aerith’s voice had boomed over all the land,

trill and steady, “Inter-species relationships are forbidden. Any creature found engaging in such a relationship may be hanged.”

It was a no-nonsense place. Charlize had heard the stories, the legends of the land before Crepegrum. According to legend, the land had been homey and populated, but torn apart by race wars and government. She didn’t think it had ever been a good nation to live on. Nobody knew if the legends were true. They had been told and retold many times, perhaps changed, perhaps some parts omitted. Many people claimed witches had always existed in the land, but nobody believed this. This legend wasn’t far off from the way of the nation today.

The Awakening was a long ceremony, filled with song and the casting of Spells of Fortune. This was a spell Charlize had not yet mastered, though she spent many days practicing with her mother and Grandmother. Both of these women were powerful witches, and Charlize desired greatly to be like them.

The seventh rule in the Lawbook of Uspax was that no magic was to be performed outside of the faction. This meant, of course, that although Charlize could cast a Spell of Teleportation to get to Oswaria, this was forbidden. In the nation, most things were forbidden. Charlize wanted all creatures to live harmoniously amongst each other, and she had brought this up many times. The High Elves thought differently, and they were the ones in charge.

Charlize knew about the fae folk. She had seen them, spoken to them, had magic granted by them. Things were a little different for the fae-folk. They lived in the forest of Acren, but fluttered back and forth between factions as they pleased. The fae-folk were mostly pleasant when they weren’t pulling pranks.

Wing was a short man, tanned, with dark hair of medium length. Charlize supposed, originality-wise, he looked mostly the same as every other Ordinary, but she would never tell him this. Wing was a man of suspicion, which made things difficult. Charlize never really acknowledged these suspicions.

September was the faery of Fortune. During the journey to Oswaria, Charlize saw a sparkle in the tree, and suspected it was September. No one ever really saw the fae-folk, as they were small and stealthy, but they often left sights of their attendance in their wake. 

Wing was nineteen years old. His meetings were Charlize were brief and never to be spoken of, as they both knew they were risking being hanged. When she arrived to where the man was waiting in the woods, she was careful to ensure her face was covered. Sometimes, the High Elf Aerith, who had Invisibility, would hide among her residents, concealed to keep an eye out for law-breakers. This was a frightening thought to Charlize, although she and Wing were careful remain inconspicuous.

The man smiled when the girl approached, his head covered by a black hood, and the woods dark. “Good evening, fair traveller. Have you come a long way?”

Wing had an older brother whom Charlize had never met, and he hardly spoke of the man. She kissed him, rather quickly in case somebody was watching. “I’ve come a fair way to see you, warrior. It was a long and winding journey, but I’m here now.”

The two had met at the Awakening a year prior, which was surprising to Charlize, as after all this time, their relations still remained a secret. This was quite the accomplishment, she thought.

Wing turned, and trudged back through the woods. Charlize followed. “Alas,” said the man, handsome despite his Ordinariness, “we must not be seen. Come.” Charlize supposed she was always good at keeping secrets; she had to have been, with the length of time she’d been seeing Wing. “How was your Awakening, maiden? I attended mine with Hawk, although I did dearly wish I could have attended with you.”

Charlize heard a noise. Perhaps it was Aerith, concealed somewhere in the surrounding woods. Perhaps it was but a fae-folk with another of her pranks. “I attended with my sisters,” she was careful to say: the truth, but not in the way the man would think. “It was quite lengthy. I’m weary now and long for sleep. Perhaps we can meet again tomorrow, warrior.”

Wing agreed to this. The man was usually agreeable, but had an air of nosiness to him, which Charlize disliked. There was a breeze in the woods behind them. Charlize needed to begin her journey home, before her Grandmother questioned where she had been. Her Grandmother was a strict woman, dedicated only to magic, and her Granddaughter’s use of it. “Let us find a meeting place for tomorrow,” said Wing, brushing the hand of Charlize. She agreed to this, and blew the man a kiss before beginning the long journey back home.

i just want to take a minute to appreciate my boyfriend

I got a job offer for a daily 8-5 job in a different city. I have a five year old who goes to kindergarten every day, and I was hesitant to accept the job just because I don’t want to make my boyfriend babysit every day of his life. He has health problems and I don’t want to leave him alone with a child in case he starts feeling sick or something.

I brought all this up with him, and he immediately offered to watch my son and encouraged me to take the job. I’ve been feeling stressed about being unemployed and having financial difficulties, and it’d be a relief to have this one thing figured out.

I feel grateful for this man because my son isn’t even his, but he still takes care of him and makes sure he’s happy and safe and whatnot. He says he’d be happy to be a SAHD if it gave me the ability to go out and ease some of my stress. I’ve been very stressed and sore and he gives me massages and takes over some of my chores if I’m feeling too overwhelmed. Of course, i try to do the same, but that’s not what this post is about.

Okay, I’m done. I just love this man and I’m so certain we are going to spend the rest of our lives together.

i’d like to cancel my subscription, please

As a kid, adulthood is one of those things we all look forward to until it’s here. It seems so magical: you can buy whatever you want, you don’t have to listen to your parents, and you don’t have a bedtime. I guess it has its perks. But at the moment, I’m finding it to have many more drawbacks. We’re all stuck in a pandemic that seems to have no intention of ever disappearing. Of course some of us are bound to get a little depressed.

It might be improper, but I feel envy toward those who are working from home, or going into a job they know will be there every day. It’s bound to get frustrating when no one will hire you because of the pandemic, or when all you do is cook and clean, or when your debts keep piling up and piling up because you can’t afford to pay them back. I can’t do everything at once. I clean the house, and I take my son to school, and I cook the family dinner every evening. One thing I can count on is things never changing. Too much change stresses me out. Doing the same thing every single day stresses me out, too.

If I could do anything, I’d go back to school. I want to be a mortician. Something about death and humanity is fascinating to me. I found a course online and everything. Naturally, there’s no way I’d be able to afford it. I miss having a steady job and a weekly income. These days, I rely on child tax and limited support from the government. Once my bills and rent are paid and groceries are bought, I have almost nothing left. I won’t tell my son about the struggles. It’s hard not to feel guilty about all the things I can’t provide for him: no vacations, no fancy birthday parties, no expensive toys or gifts. I know he appreciates what he has. At the same time, he deserves more. It makes me sad to know I can’t give him that.

Next month is my road test. Having my license and a vehicle will ease a bit of stress; I’m frustrated by having to ask for rides or use public transit all the time. But there’s more stress that comes along with your own vehicle. Car insurance, gas money, it adds up, and who knows when someone will give me a break and let me work for them. Your whole adult life, all you do is work shitty jobs to pay for things you need to survive, and now there’s a pandemic, so fuck the economy, right? I don’t want any more shitty jobs. I want a career I enjoy at a place with people I like. I know how to get there, but it seems so far off and so overwhelming. I guess that’s the price you pay when you have big ambitions. I thought that getting published would bring in more income, but it’s hardly helpful, and no one gives a single shit anyway. I’m tired of being poor, but what can I do about it, really?

Recently, my father was diagnosed with lymphoma. We haven’t seen him a while – he’s been in and out of hospital, and can’t really have visitors anyway. He seems alright when I talk to him. His hair started to fall out, so my mother shaved his head. Lymphoma runs in my family. When I’m older, I might get it too. It’s a bit ironic, really. I began my latest novel, about a boy with leukemia, only a few weeks before he was diagnosed. It’s funny how that happens.

Our bedroom needs to be painted. Flooring still needs to be installed. The house needs to be swept and mopped, again. Around here, there’s always something that needs to be done, and I’m tired of having to do it. I can do two loads of laundry and it needs to be done again a week later. I can wash all the dishes and have a bunch more to do the next day. I know, it’s all part of being a parent and an adult. I just wish it weren’t. My motivation these days is really lacking, so I get nothing done, and then I feel bad for skiving off my responsibilities. I know I have all these things I need to get done – debts to pay off, things to put away, jobs to apply for, and it’s like, it feels like all I’ll ever do for the rest of my life. And that sounds like a pretty shitty life, just working until you die. I don’t know. I don’t want to sound dreary. I’ve been dealing with depression just like anyone else.

It’s almost my son’s birthday. He’s turning five, and I booked him a party at a bowling alley. It’s the first party he’s had that wasn’t just at somebody’s house, and I need to save up to pay for it. Because it’s too expensive to get a professional cake made, I’m attempting to make my own. He recently said he wants to live at his grandma’s house instead of mine, because she has better games, and it’s more fun. I know he didn’t mean it like that, but it still upset me. I’ll probably never be able to give him what his friends have. I wish I could. I’m doing my best, but most of the time I feel like my best isn’t good enough.

The government keeps telling me to get a job, as if I haven’t been trying for the past year and a half. We can’t keep giving you income support, they say, like I’m being helpless on purpose. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. Apply for a million more positions and hope I get lucky? Yeah, I guess so.

the life of a writer

If you’ve ever felt alone because of your sexuality, you’re not alone.
If you’ve ever felt like nobody would ever understand you, I want you to know that you’re valid, and that I’m here for you.
If you know anyone who struggles with their sexuality, gender, or mental health, they might find solace in my book: a work about young people trying to pave a way in a homophobic, patriarchal, and biased society.
Men commonly struggle with mental health and addiction, and the world won’t let them talk about it. You aren’t alone, and you’re allowed to feel things.
We’re all just the same, searching for acceptance, love, and carving our own identity.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
#writersofinstagram #whiskeycult #gayandleabian #lgbt #addiction #novels #bookstagram #botd #proud