Her Biggest Secret

The Not Quite Write podcast puts on a pretty cool competition every few months. Good folks, and the best part is that they fire up an old-school forum for people to chat and get to know each other, then eventually post their pieces and have others critique them. I even made a new friend on one, trading critiques and now trading emails every now and again.

I didn’t even come close to placing with this one, but I also knew that I didn’t nail the prompts as well as I could have. They even have a quite fun feature in an “anti-prompt” where you have to deliberately do something that goes against “conventional standards of writing.” I believe mine was I had to break the rule to “avoid cliches” so I made sure my teenage protagonist described her looks by seeing herself in the mirror. Something I think probably EVERY YA BOOK EVER has. Girl Next Door with a messy bun and ponytail, green eyes, every trope I could fit in there.

The other stuff was something about a secret and aliens, or some shit. Can’t remember. I had fun though, that’s what I took away. So at least there’s that.


If even the aliens in my school want to go to Prom the least I can do is go with Nick Hadley, but I’d have to fly some serious saucers to get his sister as my date too. Nick thought his only competition was Roger Martindale. Nobody knew about my crush on Janny Hadley.

I finished my list and shoved it into my backpack. As I went to shut the lights off I caught my reflection in the mirror on my bureau. Average white girl in every way, I stared into green eyes that were sometimes called ‘hazel’ and tucked away a loose strand of my messy bun of chestnut brown hair.

I skipped out the front door to the last stop on my list. Tasha Masterson was still acting miffed, but she’d get over my gaffe by now. It was an honest mistake after all. I was soon knocking on the door but receiving no answer.

“Tasha,” I banged, “It’s me. Open up.”

Muffled thumps and a widened slit in the blinds before the door opened a crack. “Oh. It is you.”

“I just said it was me,” I started pushing my way in, “I need your help, Tash. Official Prom Decorations Committee Business.”

She held the door on me, I always forget how strong she is, but then let me in. “This is for the attention of some girl is it not? For her you will paper-mache UFOs and join a committee?”

“I am the Committee! Now, you can be too.”

“Please hurry inside. I am in the process of becoming human again and do not wish to be seen.”

I shook my head at her, beautiful as always, but I could see what she meant. Smooth, mocha skin and shiny black hair with full lips, she was wrapped in a bathrobe and was clearly in her natural state underneath.

“Great,” I smoothed her eyebrows and watched her eyes shift from ocean blue to a milk chocolate, “I can help.”

“Yes, but I am unhappy with you.” Her brow knitted, revealing twin sets of gills.

I smoothed them shut again. “It was an accident, Tasha. I am so sorry I told but there was no way I could have known the school PA system was on and I figured it would be okay if Janny knew.”

“Yes, logically you would try to impress her in such a way,” the gills along her cheeks opened now meaning she really was unhappy, “But now the entire school knows. I am embarrassed.”

I smoothed the gills on her cheeks. “So everybody knows that you like Roger Martindale. Tash, this is a good thing. Your first crush!”

Her gills stayed shut. She was getting over it. “I suppose. I am still feeling vulnerable though.”

“Relax, Tash. It’s the only secret I’ll ever share, I promise.”

“Yes, you said that before. If you drop the beans about me I am allowed to punch you in the dick hole.”

“Yeah, um… close enough.”