Fantasy Teens & Young Adult

The small body of water became Jean’s sacred place away from the complications and expectations of the Wicked Witch of Massachusetts. Cattails, bullfrogs, lily pads, and the cloudy, moonless sky welcomed her as she submerged into the chilly water. 

It was here that she first learned of her gift. Albeit, a useless gift these days, according to Mother. Any chance she could get, the wench would find a way to knock her daughters down a peg. That weighed heavily on her mind as she thought of her little sister, Kimberly. Not even ten and Mother’s so hard on her.

The crisp water didn't burn her skin, like it would most visitors. Instead it cradled her as she let go and allowed the water to rush over and through her. 

Below the surface, amongst the murky, tea-like substance, Jean spooked lazy fish, poked unaware bullfrog’s backsides, and admired the familiar, unchanging terrain. It was these stolen moments in the late night that the sixteen-year-old could feel free and at peace. Only bothered by memories of the day before. 

“You will marry the Gagnon boy,” Mother ordered. "I don't want to hear another word about it.”

That wooden spoon sharply cracked against the wall of the old farmhouse. 

Jean’s face distorted into a sneer at the thought of an arranged marriage. Though common place in their community, the idea of it made her skin crawl. 

How can she expect me to spend the rest of my life with a complete stranger? Jean thought. We’re nothing but bargaining chips in her eyes. 

Jean protested, kicked, and screamed, but it never mattered. What was said, was said. What was done, was done. Like everything else in her life, it was decided for her. 

Jean desired bigger things than being some object to barter and make other baby witches or wizards.  The mountains she could glimpse from the tree tops called to her and rumors of the ocean, a never ending place to explore, beckoned her. Life was bigger than the small community she was confined to and Jean wanted to be free.

As she moved through the water with elegance and ease, her moments of peace were interrupted by heavy, intense splashing. That sort of ruckus meant pain. 

Probably a fish or something, she thought as she listened to it splash around frantically against the surface of the water. It was close, maybe near the shore. At these depths, she was safe from predators and people, but not from her own curiosity. 

Slowly, she ascended. Jean kept her distance from the shore, from the source of the splashing. As the crest of her head silently breached the calm blanket of Robins Pond, she saw what caused all the commotion. 

There was a boy. Well, not a boy-boy, but a young man. His front half was lit up by the glow of orange flames. It was hard to make out many details in the early-morning darkness. He had broad, slumped shoulders, and was average height. From what she could see, he caught a fish and was cleaning it as he mumbled to himself. Curiously, cautiously, and carefully, Jean waded her way towards the nearby reeds. 

“I’m not a crook.” The young man awkwardly puppeteered the dead fish to mimicked Richard Nixon. 

The closer she got, the details on the boy’s face came into view. He had thick, gorgeous eyebrows, tanned skin and dark overgrown hair. The young man wore a filthy jean jacket with a faded band t-shirt underneath. His jean pants didn’t fare much better. Everything about him was dirty and disheveled from the leaves in his hair to a fish that dangled from his pocket. That made her lip curl back with disgust. 

Seemingly happy with the gutting, he walked into the surf, leaned down with fish-in-hand and managed to slip forward right into the pond. Jean chuckled to herself. The sound of bubbles which erupted from her mouth were quickly stifled. All muscles tightened and she re-submerged herself until only her eyes and forehead poked above the surface like a crocodile.

The water calmed around him, the fire continued to crack, and the boy floated lifeless in the water. 

“Oh, gods!" Jean knew the punishment for contact with an outsider. The wooden spoon, the paddle, or days without food were to come, if anybody found out. But how would they know? It was only the two of them out here. If she didn’t do something, this poor, innocent young man would die. She had taken a spoon beating for less. 

The bank rapidly ascended as she rushed forward. There was no more debate, her heart decided before her brain could scare her away from it. The slick, muddy shoreline, spackled with rocks didn’t slow her. He lay face first in less than a half-foot of water, his dead fish floated just out of his lifeless fingertips. 

With no regard for modesty, Jean wrapped her arms around the young man and yanked him back onto the shoreline. On his forehead, a long gash that trailed blood. She rolled him onto his side and hit his back a couple of times like a massive baby she tried to burp. By the fourth hit water rushed from his lips, he coughed and sputtered until he was able to reclaim air into his lungs. 

As the mysterious and clumsy boy came to, Jean saw her chance to escape and retain some amount of anonymity. She rushed back into the water and dove in. Not far off from the shoreline, on the cloudy, moonless night, she watched as he sat up, held his head, and put the last few moments together. 

His dinner floated just outside of her reach. 

“Right." He muttered in a soft voice. “That was dumb.”

Like she was throwing a snowball at her twin sister, Jean chucked the fish towards the shoreline. It landed next to him and he jumped. 

“Ah! Oh…” He picked up the fish and examined it. Its presence only made his eyebrows pull together more tightly. “What?" 

The young man squinted and looked out at the water. When nothing caught his eyes he turned backwards towards the trees, but stopped himself with a groan. That cut on his head was pretty nasty, but forehead cuts always bled profusely. There was no way for her to know if he would wake up again if he fell asleep. 

Jean watched him until he seemed to move with more certainty. When the stranger was more preoccupied with cooking his dinner, she took her opportunity to slip back to the far off shoreline where her clothes lay. The matching blue polka dot shirt and pants combination sat folded up on the trusty stump she always set them on. Her sneakers on the sand before it. 

Cautiously, she tucked the bottoms of her pajama pants inside of her shoes to make sure they didn’t get dirty as she hurried back through the woods. The well worn path she had traveled during many dark nights welcomed her and guided her back to the two story brick house at the end of the road. 

A large, conveniently placed rock provided Jean with the leverage she needed to grab the top edge of the sun-room roof which was built off of the kitchen. The perpendicular walls provided her with enough traction to gain her footing and climb onto the sun-room roof. From there, she was able to climb onto the wooden shingle-covered roof and into her bedroom window, which she left cracked open. 

After she removed her decoy made of bundled-up clothes, Jean rested her head against her fluffy pillow. Kimberly, her younger sister, snored in her bed in the opposite corner. She was a good kid. At nine-years-old she was loyal, dependable, and smart as could be. The few nights Jean had managed to wake Kimberly up, the little girl just sleepily shook her head and went back to sleep. 

Jean closed her brown eyes, ran a hand through her long, thick, wet brown hair, and pulled the quilt up to her chin. It was nice and toasty on the cool, early summer eve. After a night time swim, she usually could fall right to sleep. The crickets and frogs chirped outside, but nature's lullaby was no use. 

Jean tossed and turned as she thought of the boy at Robins Pond. He was so dirty, so free. She worried about how the blood rushed from his forehead. How could she lie here in her cozy bed while he potentially passed out from blood loss? What if he dies from a concussion? She could do something about it! The wound could be healed faster than a shooting star scooched across the sky. 

Maybe it was her own morbid curiosity, or her desire for more in life, that drove her to do the stupidest thing she had ever done. On tippy toes, Jean snuck down the hallway, descended the steps to the first floor, and slipped into the pantry. Her father’s nasally snores echoed from down the hallway. How anybody could sleep in the same room as him was a mystery to her. 

In the darkness she fumbled around the general area where her anal retentive mother kept the healing potions. Colorful, shallow tupperware containers stacked on top of one another. It took some reading by microwave light before she found the container labeled “Healing”. A good inch and a half of the off teal jelly like mixture awaited her. 

How would I get him to eat it or… know to put it on his skin? Jean thought as she stared into the container. It doesn’t taste particularly good. If she were to take a tupperware container from her house, Mother would notice. She couldn’t take the entire thing to him or explain Hey, random homeless kid. Magic exists. Take this potion?If she did that witch hunters would be drawn to their small town.

Jean rolled her eyes at herself. As her mind raced with different ways to trick him into eating it, her heart began to pound in her chest. The longer she was down here, out of her bed, the more she tempted fate. 

Jelly sandwich! She thought as her eyes landed on the breadbox. 

With careful movements, she pulled the loaf out of the wooden corner breadbox, cut a slice, sliced that in half, cleaned up every crumb on the counter, and put everything back the way it was. With a slick of jelly-like healing potion on the thick bread, she returned to her bedroom, wrapped the sandwich in an old shirt, held the tied up snack in her teeth, and descended down the side of the building. 

Jean hurried down the familiar, dark path from her house back to the pond. On the other side, the boy was awake with his hand against his forehead. The fish was cooked and laid on a strip of birchbark beside him. Knees beneath him, one hand in the mud, he leaned over the water, and made rather unappealing sounds. 

That fall must have done a number on him, Jean thought as she waited back in the cover of the thick woods.

 The sight was a sad one to see, but, as awful as it sounded, it made her feel better. This was all the proof she needed to know that she did the right thing. 

A sore backside for saving a life…  she swallowed hard. Worth it. 

His state didn't improve over the five minutes she stood there. In fact, he seemed to grow weaker in the glimmer of embers. His body swayed from side to side as he struggled to keep his balance, and his body shook. 

With a focused exhale, Jean stepped forward out of the cover of the trees. Perhaps she was compelled to help out of the kindness of her heart, or maybe it was her stubborn nature, but she would risk it. 

“Stay back," he groaned helplessly and a lazy hand shooed her away. 

Jean ignored his warning and walked forward as she unwrapped the bundle which contained the sandwich. There’s no way he can keep it down, she thought, I will have to apply it directly

Jean knelt down beside him and took a big glob onto the top of her finger. The smell of fish, vomit, and pond water made her cringe. 

“Are you stupid?" He groaned and tried to lean away from her, but all that resulted in was him stumbling on to his backside. “Go away."

“You can apologize for that later." Jean took the opportunity presented by his vulnerable position. Quickly, she smeared the potion across the cut on his forehead. 

“What the?" He groaned and tried to reach for it. “What did you-"

“Don't touch it! " She commanded. “Let it work.”

With a defeated sigh, he rested his head back in the sand. He swallowed hard and grimaced. The unpleasant look on his face eased up over the next minute. 

He licked his lips. After a few more minutes, he unclenched his fists. The goop on his forehead shimmered in the flicker of flames.

“It takes a little bit, but you’ll be healed.” She informed him. That’s it, now leave. 

The dirt and horrible smells aside, he looked so lonely. It was obvious from his plight he hadn’t been in the company of anybody in a long time. Nobody to care and tell him to change his clothes, to wash his face, or to buy him shoes without holes worn into the balls of his feet. As horrible as Mother was, she would never allow the children’s appearance to disgrace the Wagner name.

After a defeated sigh, he muttered, “thanks… but you really should go.”

Jean sat back on her heels and folded her arms over knees. His threats didn’t fall on deaf ears, but the water offered her a solitude no air breathing mammal could follow her to. “Why?”

After a long pause he admitted, “I’m not okay… not safe.” 

“You look pretty helpless and pathetic to me.” She taunted. 

“Forget it.”

Curiosity kept her feet planted as she watched her patient.

“What’s your name?” 

“Doesn’t matter.” He dismissed her.

“I saved your life, you kind of owe me.” She reminded him. He didn’t know the full cost of this gesture, but Jean was keeping that in her pocket for another bargain.

He groaned. “Peter.”

“Peter, what?”

“Can Peter just be enough?” 

The corner of her nose twitched with annoyance.

“Where are you-”

“Please.” He held up a weary hand and a sigh escaped his lips. “It’s-it’s really cool that you’ve done this. That you saved me… It’s just better for the both of us if we don’t…”

The first person she met outside of the family, or wasn’t family approved, and he wanted nothing to do with her. That sting followed her back into the woods and all the way home. 

As she lay in bed in the light of the early morning hours, Jean couldn’t help her tightened jaw as she thought of the boy at Robins Pond. Yes, he was annoying and rude… but maybe also timid and scared? He reminded her of a wild animal or a puppy, cowering in a corner while licking its wounds. Scared, alone, hungry, and pushing everyone away. 

Stay back.” Echoed through her mind as sleep fought to silence her brain. 

“Peter.” His name was on her lips as she drifted off to sleep.

February 02, 2024 00:42

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Alexis Araneta
09:05 Feb 07, 2024

Hey, KC ! Loved this. The descriptions were absolutely rich and impeccably written. I...think I know where this is going. If I'm correct, well, let's just say I've written a story with a similar ending on this site. Either way, it's really gripping. Can't wait to see where it goes!


KC Fetch
11:42 Feb 07, 2024

<3 Thank you so much! It's a story dedicated to some side characters from my debut novel I am going to try and get published soon. Wish me luck!


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Kathryn Kahn
21:48 Feb 06, 2024

This reads like the first chapter of a fantasy novel, KC. You've created a very specific and interesting world, and I hope you let these characters have life beyond this story. Nice job.


KC Fetch
02:15 Feb 07, 2024

I do! They are sub characters in a book I am writing. I hope you follow along to see how they develop.


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Aaron Bowen
13:24 Feb 06, 2024

I enjoyed this piece. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it feels like a prelude to something larger. If not, I'm fascinated (not in a condescending way, but genuinely) by your boldness in denying the reader what they want. To have the forbidden boy be equally reluctant, almost off-putting, pushes against the expectation we've nurtured from the story's first promises. So, one way, we've read a tempting beginning. Another way, you've teased a fairy-tale setup, and then subverted expectations. Either way, it was a nice read.


KC Fetch
18:07 Feb 06, 2024

Hi Aaron, It brings me so much joy for you to have picked up on it being a part of something larger. This is a side story of two characters who's love story is eluded to but never expanded on in my book series. I am glad you enjoyed it. <3


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Nicki Nance
04:44 Feb 06, 2024

Well written and engaging,


KC Fetch
18:08 Feb 06, 2024

Thank you!


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