Meegan Redoak is a character who has lived with me since the mid-1980s. I began writing her story when I returned from my first WestPac cruise while in the US Navy in 1986. I picked my first ever computer, an Apple-IIe clone, while on liberty in South Korea. When I returned stateside, I began writing. The story flowed through my fingers until I had almost seventy-five pages. I printed them out, put the stack of paper in a binder, and forgot about it.
Years later, when I started writing again, I found that faded dot-matrix printout. I took the time to transcribe the story into digital files. As I did, more of Meegan’s adventures unfurled in my mind. I began adding to the tale and fleshing out the supporting characters. Meegan got a notebook all her own, complete with pages of her character analysis and adventures. I began filling another tome with details of the world in which she lived. I had more books with notes on the different civilizations, religions, regions, and political intrigues. Each central character got half a composition book.
Then, my career took over, and the energy I had to write fiction was taken writing technical content for the job. For years, trying to write creatively was like pulling teeth. I participated in National Novel Writing Month a couple of times, only to get caught up in the insanity of our last two weeks of November. Both projects are unfinished.
Years passed, and I dabbled with Meegan’s story and many others. I struggled with plot, characterization, and flow. I watched YouTube videos to improve my craft. I wrote short stories based on one-shot Dungeons & Dragons scenarios I played with friends and family. I kept notebooks of the campaigns I ran and those I wanted to run.
Then, I aged out of my career and was retired. I had the time on my hands to study writing and tried to make the most of it. I battled the depression that accompanies the end of one’s career plans. Six months later, the world went into lockdown when the COVID pandemic swept the globe. In October, our world burned, and I lost everything I had not converted to softcopy.
It has taken me more than a year to be able to write about more than the fire. Now, the ideas keep me at the keyboard, discovering more about the entourage running loose in my head. I found this little snippet among some of the digital files I’ve been scouring for content. I cleaned this vignette up for flow and tightened the writing. I hope you enjoy it, it’s one of the few pieces I’ve written from the first-person perspective.
I always knew I was different from my mother but was never sure why.
Until my 13th summer.
I remember waking one morning to heated words on the ground below where my mother and I slept. One voice I recognized as Mother’s; the other was male and demanding. I could not hear the words, but the tone was angry. I could hear something else in the man’s voice, which puzzled me. I would have to remember to ask my mother later about him.
Curiosity got the better of me. I crept closer to the door of our small shelter in the trees and listened.
The man begged her to come back to the safety of the village. I will forever remember Mother’s words: She is my daughter, and I love her just the way she is. And while those words made my heart soar, the next brought it crashing back to reality: The fact that her father is human matters not to me. I loved him for his spirit and his soul, not his race.
With those words, the truth of my life suddenly became clear. It explained so much that had made little sense before. A perspective had opened that made all of the minor differences suddenly make perfect sense. I am not a freak!
I returned my attention to the conversation I could hear but not see, continuing below me. I don’t recall exact words, but I understood that for all of the physical advantages of my human parent, my life span is much shorter than hers.
Mother gently but firmly told him to leave. She would not return unless the village accepted us both. I crept back to my bed and pretended to sleep when Mother returned.