Today, I’m sharing an excerpt of my short story “A Mother’s Love,” which will be included in the Kindred Kingdoms anthology tomorrow. This story takes place in Seirenia, the world of Wyld Magic, but it includes new characters and locations.
This story is very personal for me. I don’t often talk about my family, but I’m very proud of both my children. My son is trans and I have always tried to love and support who he is. This is difficult because many people in our country, the United States, have a lot of misunderstandings and hatred for trans people. There is so much legislation surrounding trans people, especially trans youth, that limits what they can do and prevents them from getting health care. As a parent, all I want is for both my children to be happy and live their lives.
This story is written from the perspective of a mother who must choose between the values of her society and her love for her children.
Sneak Preview: The Truth Comes Out
Every mother wants to know that her children are safe.
Melayna had been blessed with seven children, and as much as she loved them, she was going prematurely gray for all the work it took to raise them. They were fortunate to live in the south, where the green fields made sure there was always enough to eat, and their village had high walls to keep out monsters. Still, between the occasional plague and childhood mishaps, it was common for one child out of seven or eight to die before adulthood. Melayna was determined that all her babies would beat the odds.
At least there was no more war. The Holy Empire of Damia had united the southern end of the peninsula when Melayna was pregnant with her first. Some villages had resisted, fighting to keep their independence, but Reina Village had seen no need for violence.
The Holy Empire was just and fair. They didn’t take too much in taxes, and the imperial soldiers kept them safe from monsters. The temples protected people from succumbing to Wyld magic. Unlike the helpful magic of trained mages, Wyld magic caused unpredictable plagues and drove people mad, killing many across the peninsula. Worse, sometimes it left victims alive but warped, with unnatural abilities. Melayna had never seen it, but she had heard about children who burned down their village or destroyed buildings with their mind. Wyld magic couldn’t be controlled.
The Holy Empire’s goddess, Damia, was a mother, too. Her priestesses preached family values above all else. How could that be wrong?
So Melayna prayed to Mother Damia to bless their fields at the planting each autumn and thanked her for the bountiful harvest in the spring. And she watched her family grow like the grain that flourished in the winter rains. They grew into adulthood, married, and had children of their own. More dear ones to love—but more to worry about.
But on one fateful summer day her second youngest child came to her and said, “Mama, I have something to tell you. Please don’t get mad.”
Melayna smiled, even though a chill was creeping up the back of her neck. “Why would I be mad, sweetie? You know you can tell me anything.”
The child, who was nine, squirmed uncomfortably. “Just promise that you won’t yell at me.”
“I promise,” Melayna said, reaching out to comfort them. She knew these middle years were full of many troubles, but she’d already guided five children into adulthood. She thought she’d heard it all by now.
She was wrong.
“Mama, I want to be a girl,” the child blurted out.
Melayna didn’t understand at first. “What?” She had several daughters, but this child was not one of them. She could still see them as a chubby baby playing on her bed. A sturdy boy. A little sensitive emotionally, and a graceful dancer in the village’s annual rituals, but she had always thought of them as a boy.
But this young person hunched their shoulders and looked uncomfortable. “I mean, I think I am a girl, I feel like my body is wrong. It’s killing me to keep pretending like this.”