I see this a lot in my reader groups: people (particularly girls) asking for recommendations of novels with strong female leads. And then inevitably, fifty people comment with various novels they love and recommend. And almost exclusively, the novels feature ass-kicking women with hyper-masculine tendencies and abilities that somehow mark them as “strong.”

And inevitably, I roll my eyes.

Now let me just say that I will be the first to admit that I’m a Sarah J. Maas fan, and she is the queen of writing ass-kicking female leads. And I am fully aware of the hypocrisy of my own stance here for even liking her books. But I will just say that any trope, when written well, can be overlooked. Even enjoyed.

But…

It’s still a trope. And it’s one I think we should address.

In today’s society, gender is almost a bad word. There’s a chasm between those who think gender is binary, and the other side who is shouting with ever-louder bellows that gender is much more than we’ve defined before. And for the sake of my own sanity, I won’t get into the nuances of that argument, except to say this: I believe gender is both binary and varied. And I believe that’s what makes humanity beautiful.

Because there are plenty of men who love ballet and art and cooking and reading and playing the piano and performing and [insert any defined “feminine” hobby or preference here]. There are plenty of men who cry at a great movie, who are tender and compassionate, who are not afraid of their emotions. And they are no less masculine for it. Because masculinity has nothing to do with what you enjoy, nothing to do with your personality, and everything to do with innate responses to the world around you.

And the same goes for females. As far as the pink-loving, glitter wearing, ruffle-clad gender norms are concerned, I am not the typical female. My favorite color is black. I like to hunt and fish. I’d rather be in the mountains. I don’t wear high heels. My cuticles look like crap most of the time.  I can’t stand most romantic comedies. And my favorite movie is Braveheart. Yet I am fully female and fully feminine and I am glad to be. I don’t consider femininity weak, lesser, or of any less value than masculinity.

So it really bothers me when modern culture purports that in order for a woman to be strong, she must take on masculine characteristics. Like it or not, women are, by nature, physically weaker than men. We are not capable of the feats most men are. Of course there are exceptions. Of course. But as a rule, my husband can do more physically than I can. And that does not make me weak. It makes me different. Because believe me, there are plenty of things I can do that he cannot.

So when authors write female leads who can fight like a man and take down most of them, it bothers me. (If you’re a Maas fan, I know you’re probably saying, “But Morgan, Aelin [Throne of Glass] is also feminine! She loves dresses and chocolates and pretty things and…” Yeah. I know. But I would argue that it is not a love of dresses that makes one feminine. Why can’t a man have an appreciation for fashion? Why does that make him less masculine? Why can’t a woman not have an appreciation for fashion? Does that make her any less feminine?) Why should the ability to fight like a man mark a woman as strong enough? Why shouldn’t innate nurturing and empathy be marks of strength? (I won’t even go into childbearing, childbirth, and child rearing. Because God help us if a man ever had to experience a contraction. But I digress.)

Let’s flip this coin and look at it from another perspective. My husband cannot and does not see the world the way I do. He does not consider the reasons behind what people do first—he considers whether or not what someone has done is a reason for recourse. Protection first. Consideration second. But not me. As a woman, I default to considering the why behind actions first. I stop to think about what makes people the way they are, and often that leads me to give grace and mercy before acting. And likewise, it often leads me to advise my husband to do the same. Where his instinct is to protect first, mine is to nurture first.

And both of things are good. Of equal importance. And equally strong.

I don’t need to kick ass in order to prove my strength. My husband does not need to watch a rom-com in order to prove his sensitivity. We can be different—complimentary—and be at our best. Strong. Beautifully nuanced.

It became my heart’s anthem to find a way to convey this genuinely. I wanted to show what I’ve learned from my own marriage—that complimentary qualities are better when they’re together. And that inherent masculinity is strength just as much as is inherent femininity.

It’s the very reason I wrote Elizabeth (the main character in The Promised One) to be the way she is. She speaks her mind. She does not think of Ferryl as superior or stronger or better. Nor does she think of herself as superior or stronger or better.

They are equal.

*Gasp.* What a concept.

My two main characters are equal. Partners. Masculinity and femininity working together. Side by side. Not in front or behind. And as their story progresses, you see this more and more. Without spoiling anything for those of you who haven’t read it yet, I will simply say that their story is one of showing how feminity is its own kind of strength, just as needed and powerful as a man. And it has nothing to do with high heels and dresses and ribbons and bows. It’s a story that shows how we were designed to compliment each other, not vie for the title of “strongest.”

Perhaps that’s the whole point. Because perhaps femininity and masculinity are stronger when they’re together.

The Promised One – Finalist: Religious Fiction

American Book Fest: Best Book Awards 2018

I am so honored and excited to share that The Promised One (The Chalam Færytales, Book I) was a finalist in the American Book Fest Best Book Awards for 2018! Nominated in the religious fiction category, to be among the finalists is an honor! You can see a full listing of the finalists and winner here. And you can read the full press release from the American Book Fest here.

Dear Mom, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry.

Sex has never been a comfortable topic for me. Partly because of my upbringing, and partly because of my faith, sex has been, for the majority of my life, somewhat of a taboo. Even after marriage, there were aspects of my sexuality that I could not bring myself to terms with (because God forbid a woman should not only enjoy it but… you know… want it). But here I am, writing this, knowing that people I know will read it. Knowing my MOM will read it (good lord in heaven). Maybe even my pastor. Most certainly my church friends.

So I guess after today, the proverbial cat’s out of the bag.

Because here’s the deal: I’ve been getting it wrong. The Church has been getting it wrong. Heck, most of the world has been getting it wrong.

And no, I’m not talking about the mechanics. (Although that’s probably part of it, it’s an aspect of sex I’m not getting into for the sake of this discussion.) I’m talking about the philosophical implications of sex. For marriage. For humanity.

Secrets and Lies

Here’s a confession: when I wrote the first novel of my series, The Promised One*, I knew that since it is, among many things, a love story, there would come a time where I’d have to address sex. There would be a moment in the arc of the characters where sex was unavoidable, at least from the perspective of how humans operate and how we’re wired. If I wanted to write real characters, sex had to be a part of the equation.

But I’m a Christian. Christians don’t write about sex. We don’t talk about sex either. We don’t read about sex (publicly, anyway). We certainly don’t discuss it in any capacity aside from counseling and a few classes now and then that whitewash the subject and simplify it into one of two categories: people who are having it when they shouldn’t, and people who can have it and don’t want to.

I don’t fit into either of those categories. And so I’ve always felt lost.

I didn’t want that for my characters. I read great non-Christian novels and find that sex is this exciting, celebrated thing. But I’ve been reared in a culture that in many ways told me the opposite. I’ve been reared in a culture that told me my sexuality is a stumbling block for men. I’ve been reared in a culture that told me men only want me for sex. I’ve been reared in a culture that told me I shouldn’t want it until the right time, and then I should want it, but not too much. I should want it just enough that I’m still modest and proper. But I shouldn’t be prudish–that’s just annoying. I was reared in a culture that taught me that virginity is the ultimate goal, not purity. I was reared in a culture that told me if I am a woman and I have sexual desires, there is probably something wrong with me.

Now none of these things were taught verbatim. It was intrinsic. These were concepts drilled in to me over years and years in the Church, and in the South. These were ideas birthed from the I Kissed Dating Goodbye and True Love Waits generation. I grew up wanting to be counter-cultural. I grew up with a desire to please God with my body, among all other aspects of my life. I just did not grow up understanding how to do that.

Needless to say, my view of my own sexuality was warped and I didn’t even know it. I let men define me. I let the attention of the opposite sex shape who I thought I was. I let the Church tell me my body was shameful. And I let all of that become this monster lurking in the corner of my soul, telling me I was wrong to enjoy any aspect of sex.

Even with my husband.

Then I wrote a novel.

The Author’s Guide to Self-Diagnosis

There is something cathartic about writing fiction. Ask any author and they’ll tell you the same. We are our own psychotherapists. And we figure ourselves out through the lenses of the fictional characters and worlds we create. I certainly did. Through the eyes of my characters, I realized that I should stop fearing sex. So, naturally, like a good Christian, when it came time to write the inevitable union of my two main characters, I was terrified. Utterly terrified.

Not of writing it. No, I wrote it. In fact, I wrote many, many versions of it, mulling it over. Thinking. Praying. Wondering how I should convey it. If I should convey it at all. For two years, I kicked around the fictional sex can (yes, I just said fictional sex can), wondering how I should proceed. I was lost in the weeds of conflicting world views and convictions. I did not know how to land on any sort of conclusion.

Until I read the Bible.

Have you ever read Song of Solomon? I hadn’t really paid a lot of attention to it, despite the fact that I’ve read it many times over the years. I remember growing up in private school, my fifth grade teacher got on to me and my friends when he caught us reading it during our free time one day. “Do you want me to tell your parents you were reading Song of Solomon?” he asked, leering over us with disdain. At the time, my mortified soul answered with a resounding no, and I quickly shut my Bible and put it away, heart pounding.

Looking back, I see how that one moment shaped so much of my views for so long. When I really dug into the book this time, I realized how much I had been missing.

Sex in the Bible

Talk about graphic! Song of Solomon does not gloss over the finer aspects of the act itself, colorful body descriptions notwithstanding.

Like the tower of David is your neck, built for weapons. A thousand shields are hung on it —all shields of warriors. Your two breasts are like two fawns, like twin gazelles grazing among the lilies. Until the day cools and the shadows flee away, I will go to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense. ~Song of Solomon 4: 4-6

King Solomon knows how to compliment a lady, amiright? The couple is brazenly hot to trot for each other, and they don’t mind letting us know. And I realized something–it’s not God that’s ashamed of sexuality, it’s us. The Church. Even humanity. Because on the other side of this token, I challenge you to read or watch a story that involves sex where positive words are used to describe it. Words like “wicked,” “naughty,” and “dirty” are rampant in most modern descriptions of sex. And it breaks my heart–to associate something so profound with words that cheapen it. That turn it into something we hide in the night. That turn it into a game for only the daring. For only the most base. Intimacy may be private, but it’s not a dirty secret. There’s a difference. And that difference will shape every bit of our sexual experience.

The Church told me it’s a dirty secret meant only for the marriage bed. Pop culture told me it’s a dirty secret only for the naughty.

None of us are getting it right.

So if it’s not wicked and it’s not taboo, if it’s not dirty or shameful… then it must be something else.

What if it’s a gift?

Yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard that. Our parents probably told us something like that when we got the birds and the bees talk. You remember that day. “Mom, you’re embarrassing me. Stop!” But what if she was right? Maybe not in every nuance of the meaning, but in the gesture. Maybe the gift is our sexuality. I’ll say it again: maybe our sexuality is a gift. To be explored. To learn. To understand.

Certainly not to fear. Or hide. Or gloss over.

Maybe sex is a glimpse of the divine.

My husband is the one who opened my eyes to this (and no, not in the way you’re thinking. Get your mind out of the gutter). He told me once that since God is neither male nor female, there is only one way that humanity can get a glimpse of the whole picture of who he is–when a man and a woman are in union. And when man and woman come together, they create life. Only God can create life, but God the Creator gave us a glimpse of that wonder with sex. He let us experience a glimpse of his divinity. With sex.

Damn.

So yeah, when I realized all of that, I decided I would take the risk of offending my Christian friends and portray sex in my novels. And not in fade-to-black, keep-it-G-rated implications. But in reality. Not eroticism. Sex. The gift. In all its glory. In all its flaws. Virgins and prostitutes and kings and men. Some who found love and kept it. Some who don’t know how to love. Some who love in all the wrong ways. Sex. The human experience. Nothing white-washed about it.

I’m glad I did.

 

*In case you pick up my novel and get confused, there is no sex in the first book. I saved that for book two. Because what’s fiction without a little slow burn romance? You’re welcome.
The image in this article is the property of The Babylon Bee. And dear sweet mother of kings, if you don’t read their articles, you’re missing out. These conversation hearts are part of their Song of Solomon Valentine series. *giggles behind her hand*

Dear Christian, I’m sorry my books offended you.

I almost didn’t release these books.

That’s right. When I started writing The Promised One, it was for fun. A labor of love. But I had no intention of releasing it. No, not because I didn’t think it was good enough, or because I was suffering from imposter syndrome. I almost didn’t release this book because I knew I was going to take the series in a direction that most of my Christian community would not understand. You see, if you’ve read my books, you know two things: they’re blatantly spiritual, and they’re unapologetically human. I did not gloss over the less savory aspects of the human experience: namely violence, sex*, and language. And even in the early years when I was querying my sanity away, I ran into one of two scenarios: a publisher who wanted to scrub the religion out of the books, or a publisher who wanted to scrub the sin out of them.

I wanted neither.

So I took a risk and released a book that doesn’t get written often. I brought my faith into a messy, very human world. You know, just like in real life.

Now let me say one thing: I know that many of you who are my readers love and adore Christian novels. Don’t get me wrong, one of my all-time favorite fiction books is Redeeming Love. It doesn’t get any more blatantly Christian than that. But most of the Christian fiction I have read (with a few exceptions) whitewashes the human experience, glossing over or fading-to-black the more difficult or intimate parts of life. There is never language. There is never violence other than the implied. And there is most certainly never ever ever ever sex. And I get it—I’ve gotten many reviews for these books that let me know in no uncertain terms that the reader was disappointed in my content. Here’s one in particular:

In the first few pages, there is swearing so I did not go any further. I do not like books with swearing in them. I am working to delete it from my kindle library. This is my voluntary review. ~Pat, Amazon

When I first received that review, I was incensed. Considering that I put a disclaimer in the description of every one of my books that 1) they are not G-rated and 2) they contain adult content, it felt a little unfair that someone would go out of their way to give me a bad review for something they were forewarned of. But after I got over the initial disappointment, I realized something. Maybe I’m doing something right. I mean, if I’m making you, my dear Christian readers uncomfortable, well… that was the point.

Why? Because I don’t see why any human should find need of a God without finding out their own shortcomings to begin with. I don’t see why life should be shown through rose-colored glasses in order to appeal to a corner of the market. And frankly, as a Christian myself, I don’t beat around the bush with God. He sees all of me. I let him. I don’t see why I should hide from you, either.

So I paint a picture in these books: a picture of life in all its flawed glory. A picture of people who are just as imperfect as I. A picture of a world in need of a redemptive and loving God. That’s it. That’s all I’m going for. I just want to be real with you. One of my reviewers gets it:

The thing I keep saying to people about this book is that it’s not squeaky clean. Lots of Christian books are cheesy and preachy. This series is definitely not like that. It’s just a normal book that also has a huge divine presence. I haven’t seen a book that does it this effectively since Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni trilogy. ~Hollyann, Goodreads

In the Fall of this year, I will release book V in this series and let me forewarn you, dear reader: it gets dark. It gets ugly. I let these characters take me down the shadowed paths of their souls. I let them bare themselves before me, and explored all they would face. We took a peek behind some unsavory, long-forgotten curtains. And it was cathartic and cleansing and difficult and beautiful.

Here’s an (unedited) excerpt from book V:

“I don’t want your pity, Michael. That’s not… I know the truth. I could see it in his eyes. I could see the truth staring back at me in my uncle’s dead eyes as he hovered over me.”

Michael shut his eyes, shut out the image she painted for him as he asked, “What truth?”

“That I’m not worth it, Michael. I’m not worth trying to love.”

Those words. Those words that had been branded on his very soul. The echo of what his father had said to him over and over again when he was a boy. His father who had hated him just for being born. His mother’s husband who had branded his soul with his hatred just as he had branded Michael’s arm with iron.

His tears were hot as they poured down his cheeks, as his heart tore and tore again for this woman beside him. For the wounds she too had suffered under a father who had used her as nothing more than bait. Used her and then tossed her away when he had no more use for her.

They were the very same, Delaney and Michael. The very same broken vessels just tying to keep themselves together.

~Excerpt from The Chalam Færytales, Book V by Morgan G Farris. All right reserved. If you repost this anywhere, please tag me. Show a girl some love, folks.

I hope you’ll join me as we continue this messy, broken, human journey. Maybe at the end of it, we’ll all learn something about ourselves.

Buy The Chalam Færytales and Catch Up Before Book V (Fall 2020)

 

*I would like to state for the record that I do not view sex as a “less than savory” aspect of humanity. However, I know that many of my more religious friends would find any entertainment containing such content to be so. In a future article, I plan to articulate my thoughts on this aspect of my books, and why it was important to me to include it.

Notice: Contains adult language and thematic violence. Reader discretion advised.

Chapter I

The attacks always happened in the open air—the wind in her face, the skies clear and cool, and she a target, a beacon. A fool. She banked left hard, dodging a branch as she made for the cover under the canopy.

She flew as hard as her wings could carry her, not daring to risk the time it might cost her just to look over her shoulder, to see how close they were. The forest stretched before her—a maze of shadow and moonlight, flora and rot. She could not fly hard enough, her breath shards of ice in her lungs.

She didn’t need to look to know how close they were. She could practically taste the foul air around them, feel the ancient blackness curling around her as she sped through the night, cutting through the air and around trees like a human weapon—a blade, honed for killing. Four. There were four of them this time!

Maybe they were the murderers, but she was no blade. And she was certainly no human.

But tonight…maybe tonight she was a shooting star, outflying the darkness.

The darkness that had chased her for as long as she could remember.

She picked up speed, a streak of lightning through the damning darkness.

~

“Holy Eloah, Meren, you look like shit!”

“Thanks, Ash,” she said flatly, brushing past her friend. She plopped down on her dandelion fluff cushion, helping herself to a huge cup of water before taking a full breath.

Asher stood in the doorway with his arms crossed, furrowing his brow. No, not furrowing his brow. His brow was in a constant state of furrowed. Asher was always miffed with her for one reason or another. Like the brother she never had. Or wanted. She rolled her eyes, keeping her attention on her glorious cup of water, kissed with just the perfect amount of honeysuckle nectar, ignoring the ache in her back.

She’d had to fly fast this time. Too fast. Her wings seemed to scream in protest.

She picked broken leaves from her thatch of curly hair, a cerulean strand falling messily across her brow. She pushed it away absently, lost in the knowledge that one of these days, those bastards were going to catch up with her.

“What happened?” Asher scowled, his legs spread shoulder-width apart, his face set in menacing determination.

“You know what happened, Ash,” she said, not bothering to look at him. But that midnight hair of his, his skin so rich and dark, the thick arms peeking out from under his sleeveless oak-leaf tunic—he was hard to ignore for long. There weren’t any of the legendary Warrior færies left; all of them had been either murdered or tortured decades ago. But Asher—with the human-like weapons he had fashioned himself out of bone and stone, with his short temper and feral need to prove himself—he was as close as it came. One of those weapons, a bone blade so jagged she doubted it left much that was recognizable when he was done with it, hung ominously from his belt.

“You disobeyed my orders,” he said, glaring at her from across the oddly shaped room, carved from the center of the chalam tree.

“Your orders?” She balked, still not bothering to meet his pointed stare, instead picking at the vines growing around her cushion, silently reminding herself to prune soon lest her little nook in the tree become overrun with the nuisance growth. She was absolutely uninterested in another one of his fatherly, suffocating lectures. When he let the silence grow long between them, she finally sighed through her nose, taking another long drink before she said, “I don’t know how they always find me.”

“I do.”

“Here it comes,” she said, but he ignored her, pushing off of the doorjamb.

“You’re too brazen, Meren. You take too many risks.” He crossed the room one step at a time. Asher always opted to walk instead of fly when he was frustrated. It drove her to madness the way he refused to use his wings when he was in a foul mood. Which was often. She lifted her gaze to his, but showed no remorse, no apology. No way would she apologize to Asher.

“It’s not safe for you out there,” he warned.

Her temper flared like a willow branch straining against its trunk in a violent wind. “We can’t hole ourselves up in this coven forever, Asher. Jotham is wrong. We can’t keep pretending that nothing is going on. There are more of us, I know it.” She spoke curtly, her words swift and hot.

“We’re not pretending like nothing is going on,” Asher argued, his tone disapproving. He took another step. Another. Closing the gap between them. Towering over her like he was…

“Stop acting like my father,” she spat.

Oh, he didn’t like that comment one bit. Not one tiny bit. Asher knelt before her, gripping her chin a little too firmly, his face, his entire countenance shifting to something… Something she wasn’t sure she liked.

“I’m not your father,” he said, his tone a low warning. “But you’ll forgive me if you scare the shit out of me too often. I forbid you to go out again.”

“You know I won’t listen,” she said, jerking her chin from his grip. A cool sting lingered on her skin in the wake of his grip.

She could feel his gaze on her for an uncomfortable moment before he finally sighed, pushing on his knees as he stood again.

“You can’t keep hoping you’ll be fast enough to outfly them, Mer,” he said, moving to her hearth, ripping away a few vines that had grown over the opening before working to bring a flame to life. It had always marveled her, the way the færies lit fires in the heart of trees without thought. As if one mistake wouldn’t reduce their entire home to ashes. But that had never happened. In fact, there were only legends of such things, and certainly nothing from recent history. Meren had always chalked it up to the magic they used to light those flames, the same magic Asher now used, tossing a ball of færy light from his tan palm. The only magic left in the færies anymore. Light. Useful for little more than a few bobbling flames that lit their homes and warmed their hearths. No wonder most færies had gone into hiding. Their magic was nearly indistinguishable from a human these days—a far cry from the days of yore. The times her parents so often spoke or sang of. When færies were the wielders of the Light—the messengers of Eloah himself.

Those days were long gone, along with any semblance of peace. Just as the færy Light had diminished to little more than utility, so had the lore of the færies in the consciousness of most of the world. Useless. The lot of them.

Asher’s flame flared to life in a flash of blue, then settled into an easy, crackling golden fire in her hearth.

“I’ve outflown them every time so far,” she said, unable to resist arguing with him as she watched him pick up a loaf of bread that was probably too hard to eat.

His back was still to her as he said, “That is beside the point.”

There was truth in that. She knew it. But it didn’t matter to her. Not really. The Dark Færies were growing. Spreading. While the Light of Eloah was all but useless in the Light Færies anymore, the opposite could be said for the Darkness that was spreading across their lands. And the knowledge of that gnawed at her day and night like a wolf at a kill. It went against her nature entirely to just stand by and watch her world be devoured by the Darkness. So she argued with her friend despite the fact that she suspected he was right.

“I’m faster than you, Asher. And I’m faster than they are. They’re not going to catch me.”

He turned to face her, the knife in his hand like an extension of his arm. “And what happens when they do?”

It was the concern in his eyes—sincere and suffocating—that kept her from exploding into a fit of frustration. It was that genuine concern that usually kept her from killing him, despite him infuriating her on a daily basis.

She stood and padded across the shiny wooden floor, putting a hand on his shoulder. “I’ll be all right, Ash,” she said as warmly as she could.

To her surprise, he seized the moment to close the remaining distance between them, setting down the knife he was using to slice the stony loaf and putting his warm hands on either side of her face. “I worry about you, Mer.”

“I know,” she said, brushing him off. “It’s annoying.”

He breathed a laugh through his nose, the small gesture softening his whole demeanor. His shoulders relaxed, but his wings remained ramrod straight behind him. Not flapping lazily like a cat’s tail, but rigid—as rigid as his concern for her. “When are you going to let me take care of you?”

She nodded to the loaf of bread behind him. “What do you call that?”

“Sustenance,” he said. “You seem incapable of so much as boiling water.”

“I am not,” she protested.

He laughed and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her into a bone-crushing hug. His fiery wings at last flickered softly, as if he were calmed by her nearness. She wondered what it said about her that the thought made her uncomfortable.

She absently watched those wings over his shoulder before she pushed out of his arms, pressing a smacking kiss to his cheek and then treading to her bed, plopping down on the fluffy, feathered mattress.

He turned back to the bread and set about buttering a slice.

“I’ll be much more impressed when you learn to make me toadstool soup,” she quipped.

He kept his back to her. “That will never happen.”

“Why?”

He looked over his shoulder, a sly grin on his mouth. “Because it’s disgusting.”

“It is not!” she barked, incensed. It was, in fact, her favorite. And had been since she was a youngling.

“You have terrible taste, Mer,” he said, buttering more slices of bread. She stuck out her tongue at his back and those formidable amber wings of his, lined black and patterned with gold and crimson.

By no means a cook, Asher was, at least, constantly aware of her needs. She was starving. Which was why, she supposed, she let him come in here, let him act like this was his home, his things. Let him feed her like she was a helpless færyling.

Not that he needed permission to do that. He had been treating her as a helpless færyling from the moment he had found her all those years ago.

She rolled her eyes and flopped onto her belly, turning the giant page of a book she had found on one of her ventures—a mortal story. Of wars and kings, and prophets and dragons.

Bound by the sea

For all eternity

Leviathan awaits her destiny.

By fire and flame

She sets the world ablaze

For the coming of the new age.

“I still can’t believe you made me lug that stupid thing in here,” he said over his shoulder, as if he knew exactly what book she’d turn to first. She bit the inside of her lip to keep from chuckling. The book had become her favorite from the moment she had found it.

The book was not færy-sized. No, it was a human-sized book she had found and then sweet-talked Asher into helping her heave it up the side of the tree and into her little home. Which, consequently, was hardly large enough for the book. She had turned it into a platform, a dais of sorts, on which she sat as she read it. Asher had suggested she throw a cushion on top and call it a bed. She had merely rolled her eyes and set about reading it.

And it had fascinated her. Page by page, she hadn’t been able to put it down, stopping only to hover above and turn the page or adjust to uncover a paragraph she sat on. She had read it like that in a matter of days. Now she kept it open all the time—like a witch might reference a spellbook.

“Why do the humans call these stories færytales?” she asked absently as Asher drizzled honey from the comb onto a slice of the crusty bread. “They don’t even believe in færies anymore. They think we’re butterflies or moths or something.”

“Eloah knows,” he said. “Humans are strange.”

Strange, perhaps. But intriguing. And as Meren read more of her book, she couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to meet a human. To help them as the færies once had.

To be a true færy of the Light.

Asher turned to face her at last, bringing her a slice of honeyed bread and biting into one of his own. “Jotham wants us to meet tomorrow,” he said around the unnecessarily large bite in his mouth.

She ignored the sight of him chewing the food and took a bite of her own. The bread was tough. Asher hadn’t been wrong—she was terrible about keeping decent food in her cupboards. She swallowed the hardly-chewed piece before she said, “Why? So that he can tell us to keep hiding? Keep pretending like they won’t find us as long as we stick together?” She savagely ripped off another bite, frustration mounting as she chewed on the stony bread. The butter and honey did little to hide the fact that it was barely edible.

“It’s a good plan, Mer.”

“It’s a coward’s plan,” she quipped.

“I suppose you have a better one,” he said, but she didn’t answer. “That’s why you went out there tonight, isn’t it?” When she still didn’t answer, he sighed. “Meren, what is it that you think you’re going to find?”

“More of us, Ash. I know there are more of us.”

“There aren’t,” he said, standing. “They’re all dead. Just like you will be if you keep going out there.”

“So this is it?” she snapped, standing to her feet. “This is our life forever? Hiding here, hoping we won’t be found?”

“It’s better than dying!” he yelled.

“Hardly!”

“Meren—”

“Ash, I’m tired of this! I’m tired of hiding away like a coward. I’m going to do something. I have to do something!”

He crossed the space between them, gripping her shoulders in his calloused hands. “You are one færy, Meren. One. What exactly do you think you can do?”

“Whatever it takes,” she said, and pushed out of his grip.

###

© 2020 The Parallax by Morgan G Farris. All rights reserved. If you paste any part of this somewhere on the internet, please tag/credit me.