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Romance Urban Fantasy Gay

I’m not crazy about fortune telling but you know better than to argue with science, right? I mean, experts think they’ve finally found the means to change things up a bit and allow us to drink a few potions so that things won't be so bad in our opposite seasons, but honestly, it just hasn't been working out for me. 

Take koff, that lovable drink we often take when we get up in the morning and we’re feeling down about ourselves. It gives us energy and when the moon is in retrograde, we need all the energy we can get. Well, right now after scarfing down a full meal and a hot cup o' koff, I sleepily walk the rest of the way to work.

I am a practicing Outlander, one of the seven tribes of old on the right side of the East Wind Current, you know. Pine trees and wood cabins are what people typically imagine when they think of where I’m from, but the honest to stars truth is that I live in Bortland, where the bricks and concrete outnumber the trees. Hey, at least we still have the lovely smell of the ocean to keep us… er, fresh? 

I’m actually thinking about just this as I idly open my fortune cookie walking down main street. I know what you’re thinking, Grace! You don’t just open one of those things willy nilly! And you’d be right, and that’s why I ended up screwed.

The fortune fell out between the freshly made cracks in the cookie and landed next to a black gum-spot on the pavement. It read simply: The Moon Has Chosen You

For those who aren’t practicing Outlanders, you probably don’t keep up with our sacred texts. This message fundamentally means, the person who spots you out in a crowd today is going to be a major player in the rest of your life. 

As the ancient texts prophesied, Those who are to enter one’s life during the season of your opposite star sign are those who may be called upon by the moon. When the sign comes, and yes, it will come– the players will come into contact now and forever until their souls dance together in the heavens

Thing is, I checked my calendar and I know that the combination of retrograde and Aquarius, the opposite season of my star sign, make this a very bad time for me. My eyes grow wide there on the sidewalk. I am careful not to look anyone in the eye and my vision is cast downward. I look to the shoes of the people around me and think to myself that any one of these people could be a potential lover or… the alternative. 

We were told when we were young about great stories in which heroes and villains are constantly at war with one another for the sake of destiny. It wasn’t stories of Good and Evil but rather of star signs and their rivals. Like ancient gods, and that’s exactly what they are to us Outlanders, the stars pick champions and rivals. During the time of your star sign, luck is on your side. I have lived my whole life with that knowledge, as has everyone else. 

One can only hope that when the moon chooses them, it will be when the moon would be in prograde and their star-sign would bask brilliantly down upon them: when you are at your strongest and best. 

But this was all wrong. All wrong indeed. I shuffled through the crowded streets of Bortland and took note of every pair of shoes that passed me. A pair of sports shoes with clean, white leather; a pair of boat shoes with a hole in the left front; skate shoes pair with sparkling moons and stars; some sneakers with rust-colored dirt from a base-bat field. 

Please no one look, please no one look

I made it this way to work, five minutes late. I rushed into the back room and finally lifted my eyes from the floor. My coworkers were safe because we had all already met. If there was a chance that sparks would fly today it wouldn’t be with Travis from the bakery section. 

Here, at Tomorrow’s Nobles, I have the sneaking suspicion that everyone is still waiting for their sign from the Moon. I don’t know the demographic of all of us employees but I can say for sure that we’re majorly Outlanders. I wear my sign of the crossed suns over my chest. Make no mistake, that’s covered up this time of year. I don’t want to risk the extra back luck I have by tempting fate with skin cancer from the sun or some lurker’s hungry eyes on my train ride home. 

Either way, my emblem is tucked away beneath my apron as I position myself behind the register at the front of the store. Travis from the bakery gives a dull wave from across the foyer. I wave meekly back, still reminding myself not to draw too much attention. 

That’s when Cassandra sneaks up behind me. 

“Heya, Grace,” she says to me. I practically jump out of my skin as a little squeak escapes my lips.

I whirl around toward her.

She laughs, “Whoa, what’s up with you?”

“Hi! Nothing! Shush!” I sputter. Cassandra and I aren’t exactly best buds but I’d like to think that we might be one day. She has one of those cool wolf-cuts all the cool girls wear and I just look like a plain-Jane.

I glance around for customers and see that we’re virtually alone on this side of the store. I pull her in conspiratorially by the elbow. “It fucking happened.”

“What fucking happened?” 

“The moon, dude. The Moon happened.”

She raises an eyebrow and it's now that I realized I’ve never asked her if she’s an Outlander too. “Oh god, sorry. I forgot to tell you. I’m an Outlander and something really significant happened.”

“Well,” she scoffed, “It can’t be that significant. I read tomorrow’s news and there’s nothing out of the ordinary, although I was sad to see that Brooklands is closing down due to crappy sales–” 

“No, no, I meant to me.”

“Meant as in ‘it already happened’?”

“Huh?” I ask.

She blinks, “What?”

I scrunch my eyes closed, “Damn, sorry, let me start over. I opened a fortune cookie and–” 

“Dude! Seriously? While the moon is in retrograde??”

“Listen, I know, I know, I–”

“And weren’t you born in, like, August? Dude that’s extra bad luck–”

“I KNOW!” I whisper-shout. 

Just then someone clears their throat. We both jump as there’s a man standing there, hot as the fires of Venus, a black leather and canvas jacket tightly wrapped around a muscular, toned frame. His dark eyes make traces over myself and Cassandra. 

“Excuse me,” he says in the smokiest, deepest voice I’ve ever heard from a guy. 

“Yes, hi!" says Cassandra like a schoolgirl. She glances between me and him. I feel my face melting off already. 

“I needed some help and that, uh, ‘help desk–’” he actually makes the motions with his fingers “–was empty.” 

“Oh!” says Cassandra, coming down a little from the shock of this striking man’s appearance from nowhere. “Yeah, what can I help you with?” I admire her ability to roll with the punches like that. 

“Well, I was hoping if either of you could show me to the summoning section?”

“Cultural Mythos or Practicing?” asks Cassandra.

“You guys don’t have them together?” he snaps back. I’m starting to not like his tone.

“Well, one would be in our history section while the other is in spells and incantations,” I say, backing up my friend.

“Right,” he says. “Okay, well can one of you show me the way?” 

“Sure! I–” Cassandra glances at me and back to him. “Actually, I need to be up here at the cash registers, maybe my friend here can help you!” I can tell she’s trying to be helpful, but I don’t want to spend more time with this guy. Something about his attitude doesn’t sit right with me, like he’s hiding something. 

“Yeah, okay, it’ll be this way,” I say, rounding the register counter. I turn my head back to Cassandra and stick my tongue out at her. She just winks back. 

This guy’s walk is about as cocky as his words. He walks as if leaning backward, swaying his arms in stride. 

“So, how do you like your job here?” he asks. 

“I couldn’t live without it,” I say dryly.

“Hm, so would you say you like working here?” 

“I can’t imagine working anywhere else, honestly. Here we are! The history section, subsection, summoning!” 

“Oh, I was hoping to see the Practice section, actually. Never specified, sorry.”

“Oh, um. Yeah, it’s gonna be this way.” I pass through a few book-bays and we finally come to a decorated group of shelves filled with crystals, books, grimoires, tarot decks, chalk sets, toy daggers, and a select few YA books featuring witches.

“This is perfect! You seem to know your way around this place pretty well, good for you.”

I shrug, “I’m just glad I could be of help.”

“I look forward to it,” he says as I turn to walk away. 

A chill catches in my spine. “Sorry?”

“Oh,” he crouches to get a book on a bottom shelf. “I’m the new-hire. I’ll be replacing Debby soon.”

‘Debby’ who strictly goes by ‘Debra’ to employees is our manager we begrudgingly respect. 

“Wait, you’re our new manager?” I sort of laugh in disbelief. 

He picks out a thick, purple grimoire. “Yeah. My name’s David.”

I shake his hand. His shake is a little too firm with me.

“Grace.” 

“Pleasure. Well, I’ll be seeing you around.” We part ways and I practically sprint back to the register to fill Cassandra in. 

“He’s our new WHAT?”

“Yeah, I don’t know how to feel about it,” I say. “He kinda gives me bad vibes.”

“Girl, what? He’s cute.”

“Yeah, but I don’t like the way he judged you for not being at the help desk.”

She rolls her eyes, “That could’ve been anyone else’s job.”

I glance at Travis in the bakery. He’s overwhelmed with customers, scrambling to write down orders as he goes. A trickle of white smoke is coming from the toaster behind him as it begins to beep. 

“We’re the only ones in the store, dude. Also it looks like Travis could use a hand.”

Cassandra sees the drama as it unfolds, “Holy shit!” She runs off. 

I steep in misery for the next half-hour. I think back to the fortune and the crappy luck I’ve been having lately. But then I remember that this is just a phase. Things will get better but only in a certain amount of time. August is only six months away, after all. 

When I see David again, he’s wearing an apron, like me. “Okay! Since we’ve already had the pleasure of introductions out of the way, let’s talk about some new store policies.”

“What new store policies?” I ask. 

“The ones I brought over from the other store. You know, with me.” Our eyes lock and suddenly the stars make it as clear as day. His irises constrict and I can feel the room darken as mine do too. A wave of nausea blasts at me from his direction as a cold sweat begins to form on my forehead and down my neck. Every follicle of hair on my body raises. My nemesis. This is he

“Whoa, did you feel that?” he feigns a dizzy spell. “Was there an earthquake or something? Weird.” Without another word, he walks off. 

I stand there, dazed. 

Cassandra returns, burn marks on her apron. A little fleck of her well-textured hair smokes. “Well we got the line down, thank the stars.” 

“Cass,” I mumble. “The new manager…”

“David?”

“Yeah, David…” his name makes me suddenly want to vomit. I gag. “Dude, he’s my nemesis.” 

Cassandra blinks. I can see the gears turning in her head as she processes. Finally, her eyes half-close. “Yeah, I can see it.” 

I’m still rigid. “Do I…? Do I go home or something? Like do I find a new job?”

Cassandra leans on the register. “Nah, dude. People work with people they hate all the time. Check your star map and I bet it looks pretty much the same.” 

“I don’t have– oh, right, the app.” I pull out my phone and direct it upwards, as if waiting for a good signal. My little patch of stars, the ones I was born under, pass peacefully in space. When I zoom in for a better look I see a nebula I hadn’t noticed before: an explosion of greens, blues, and purples. “Shit,” I say, passing the phone to Cassandra. She whistles softly. 

“Looks like there’s gonna be some major changes coming soon.” She rests her hand on my shoulder. “But hey, change isn’t always bad, you know?”

I frown at her. “During retrograde? During Aquarius?”

She chuckles. “I didn’t say it had to happen right this minute… But hey, sometimes you come across a diamond in the rough.” She lifts her hand from my shoulder and I suddenly feel cold and alone. “Besides, Aquarius isn’t all that bad for me. Maybe some of my decent luck will rub off on you.” 

I sigh. “Imma head home early, I think.”

Cassandra finally brushes the soot out of her hair. “You do you, boo.”

★ ★ ★

I sit on the metro on the way home. I didn’t spend very long at work today, but I somehow feel completely drained. I check my phone. It’s still locked in on the image of the nebula from earlier. The beautiful bespeckled cloud will somehow form new worlds and maybe give life to some new stars. Destinies in the making, I think to myself. 

A waft of warm air enters through one of the metro’s open doors. Funny, I think to myself as the most pleasant smell hits me. Usually it’s so cold on the metro at night. I suddenly remember I left work early and I’m just not used to afternoons. But the smell still lingers before me, like fresh rain on old wood. 

Suddenly, a glimmer of light catches my eye: a pair of skate shoes with moons and stars. When I look up from my phone, someone is standing in front of me, holding a book down by their thigh. Diamonds And Forever the title reads, its little cover adorned with a glossy blue diamond. 



I look up and lock eyes with the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen. She notices me and our eyes lock. Suddenly the world feels right-side up after a long delay of upside-downs. The metro light behind her illuminates her curly brown hair like a halo around her face. I smile and she does too. 

“Hi,” I say.

“Hi!” she says back.

I suddenly realize I have nothing to say to her, much less think about. 

“Mind if I sit?” she asks, mercifully.”

“Oh, yeah, of course,” I say before making room. She sits right beside me and I swear gravity shifts in her direction. 

“I’m Grace, by the way.” 

“Nebula,” she says, taking my hand in hers. “You can call me Lua, though.”

“That’s amazing.” 

“Yeah?” she laughs. I realize I must be smiling like an idiot. 

I shift gears, “Whatcha reading?” 

“Ah, some book about destiny theory.”

“Oh cool! I work in a bookstore and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before.” 

“You work in a bookstore? That’s so cool!” We can't stop talking from there as the rest of the world vanishes around us. The pains of the day dissipate behind me and the universe becomes just a little brighter.

★ ★ ★

Needless to say, I miss my stop.

April 12, 2024 07:20

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8 comments

Kristina Lushey
09:40 Apr 19, 2024

I enjoyed this one, keep going :)

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C.B. Chribby
17:51 Apr 20, 2024

Thank you! Needed that motivation today, I appreciate it <3

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Mary Bendickson
22:58 Apr 18, 2024

Thanks for liking my Living on Easy Street '. This story sounds like it is the start of something.

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Kristi Gott
22:22 Apr 18, 2024

A creative and well told slice of life with the main character, Grace. Good descriptions and sensory details balanced with action, astrology, and dialogue keep this moving at a good pace. Well done!

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C.B. Chribby
17:53 Apr 20, 2024

Thank you, Kristi! It can be really hard to balance those elements, so I'm really glad to hear they shone through!

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David Sweet
12:47 Apr 16, 2024

An interesting world you've built based solely on astrology. A different perspective to be sure. The fates all in the stars, the world not as random as it appears. I hope all continues to go well with your writing. It was a fun read. Thanks for sharing.

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C.B. Chribby
19:41 Apr 16, 2024

Thank you so much for taking the time to read it! It means a lot to me!

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David Sweet
20:21 Apr 16, 2024

Any time!

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