by Alyssa ThiessenPublication Date: February 6, 2016Publisher: Peasantry PressEighteen-year-old Joshua Miller is great at being invisible, despite the four, large, insect-like wings protruding from his back and his knack for high-rise robberies. He can remember almost nothing of his life before Nik found him and taught him his trade. Now he’s alone, and he likes it that way.When Joshua unexpectedly meets Lexi on a job, his simple, uncomplicated existence shifts. Although he intends to remain uninvolved, something about her captivates him and he begins to let her in. As he navigates the strange nuances of a relationship with a girl as desperate to be different as he is to be ordinary, he becomes increasingly aware that he is not who he wants to be for her. Confronted by the past he’d forgotten and a family he didn’t know existed, Joshua must decide for himself where he belongs and who holds the key to his future.
Without thinking, I pulled off my mask so she could see my face. Leave. Just leave. Again, though, I stayed where I was. I imagined her heart was beating furiously. Like mine. In all the time I’d been making my living from careless, busy, predictable wealth, I’d never been caught. I’d never been confronted. I’d never even thought of deliberately showing my face. And I’d never felt as alive as I did at that moment. I could hear the sound of my heart thundering in my ears, and I wondered vaguely what I would do if she made a dash for the phone. Would I leave? Would I try to explain myself? Would I snatch it from her hand? She didn’t move though. She simply sat, waiting. Waiting for me to tell her what I wanted. Waiting for me to go. Waiting for me to do something.
The first meeting:
“Have you seen this before?” I asked.
“Yes.” Her reply was quick, a little too shrill. The popcorn sat warming me, but I couldn’t bring myself to move my hand to take any.
I couldn’t remember ever being as aware of another human in my life – and I had spent my life being aware of other humans. I had no idea what was happening on the screen in front of me. I stopped breathing every time she shifted her weight, and I was struck with the distinct knowledge that my right hand, which was resting comfortably on the popcorn bowl, was also resting quite comfortably on her lap.
I couldn’t think. I blinked rapidly, trying to get my bearings. I pulled my hand up quickly and reached into the popcorn bowl. The warm kernels gave me something concrete to do, as I focused now on the taste and the texture – anything other than my proximity to her. I suddenly realized, with horrified fascination, that I had turned to watch her bring the popcorn to her lips. I tore my gaze away, fighting to concentrate on the movie, to keep my mind from going places I was unprepared to go.
I led the way to the window and then turned, my back against the wall, with her standing just inches from me. I wondered what her lips would taste like. I’d called her innocent and naïve, but I’d never even kissed anyone before. I got the distinct impression she wouldn’t object. Instead though, I simply nodded and turned to leave.
“Are you really going to call me this time?” she asked.
“Of course.” As I disappeared into the darkness, I knew that should be the last lie I’d ever tell her.
Romeo:As I landed on the rooftop in front of her, she stepped forward and impulsively threw her arms around me. “Hey, Dragonfly,” she whispered into my shirt. I held her like that for a moment, close to me, feeling her heart pounding. I hardly recognized myself these days, although I felt more like myself than I had for a very long time. Thursdays had become ours now, and the nights in between, for me, shadows. Each time I came for her, she was waiting, with this same breathless anticipation.
She finally pulled away and looked up at me expectantly. “So, Romeo,” she said lightly, changing my title to make me human again, “what’s the plan for tonight?”
The Romeo reference wasn’t lost on me. Nik had had me read and read and read, to ensure I understood the world of which I was a hidden part. Romeo. Part of the thrill of the moment was lost for me. I fit the title of Romeo – love struck, impulsive, foolish. He hurt every person who loved him.The front door swung open. He had come back, and I was standing in the doorway of his bedroom, masked and gloved, wings reflecting the points of light from the living room chandelier.
“What…?” A moment – it took a moment of stunned silence – and then, shouting, he charged toward me. I tried to move back, out of the way, but suddenly, he was on me, his hands around my throat, pinning my head hard against the floor. I could hear his wife screaming in the background, and I clawed at his shirt, at his face. The edges of the scene in front of me darkened; I breathed in frantically. Air. I groped blindly beside me, feeling a small, hard object – a shoe, maybe. Bringing it up hard and fast, I felt it connect with his skull, and he fell off. I clambered to my feet and, as he tried to get up, my fist connected solidly with his heavy jaw. My foot jabbed at his rib cage, and he rolled to escape my wild kicks.
He lunged towards me; I saw it too late, a glint of light from the sharp piece of crystal in his fist. Searing pain. I staggered backwards, and the man, breathing heavily, looked down at the blood-covered shard in his hand. I clutched at my side, feeling the sticky warmth soak through the fabric of my gloves.
Truth:“Listen, Eric. A girl like Lexi is inherently better than you or I,” I said. His fingers tightened on the wheel. He didn’t want to hear it, but I could tell he knew it was true. “She just is. There’s something special about her. Besides the contacts and the amazing hair.”
“Her hair is amazing.”
“Uh-huh. But beyond that. She has something special.”
“From the guy who has wings! Man, if I could fly…”
“If you could fly, you’d be stuck hiding. Stuck alone.”
“You have Lexi,” he said quietly.
“Not really. And not forever. Everything is temporary.”
“Everything is temporary for everyone. At least you can fly.”The fire smoldered outside, and I stood in front of the large, square mirror in the bathroom. As I looked into my own face, smooth and familiar, I felt shame wash over me. “I’m sorry,” I whispered aloud. Before me was the man who had spent his life stealing from people, who had watched suffering and pain and had felt nothing, done nothing. This was the man who consistently left the only people who loved him.
That’s What Love Does:
Dragonfly, I heard her voice in my mind, feeling her certainty and faith again. She didn’t care who I’d been.
About The AuthorWhen she's not donning her secret identity and saving the world, Thiessen keeps busy writing her next novel, reading something beautiful, teaching high school English, drinking coffee, cycling, and hanging out with her family - husband, kiddies, and miniature schnauzer.
Guest Post – My Road to Publication
Writing Dragonfly was a long process. From a romantic idea I had as a teen to a short story I wrote as a young adult, to the novel I finally wrote in my thirties, it's come a long way.
I came up with the idea for Dragonfly when I was a teenager, at least the general idea. It was originally about a feather-winged boy, though, who lives alone in the mountains.
When he at last ventures into the city, he ends up rescuing a girl in danger. He was going to be much more heroic and much more classically beautiful when I first thought him up. Later, I wrote his story as a short story, but it never felt quite right. Years later, when I finally set down to write Joshua’s story, I realized I had him all wrong. The feathered wings didn’t fit. He was no angel. But his heart was good, despite his choices and his past. And because the story became about his journey and about his emotional transformation, I knew he had to have dragonfly wings, because for me, the dragonfly has always been a symbol of hope and faith. In the book, Lexi tells Joshua about an
experience with a dragonfly she had as a child, and the way her interpretation of that experience shaped her faith. The experience she shared was mine, which is why I love dragonflies. This is why I gave my Joshua dragonfly wings.
After I wrote Dragonfly, I let it sit for a while. Then I re-read it, revised it, and re-read it again. Eventually, when it was in a state I liked, it was off to the editor's. After more revisions, I had some beta readers look at it... And I realized I was geographically challenged! I revised it yet again, had it re-edited, and then revised it some more. Finally it's at a place where I'm happy with it. Peasantry Press released it in February, in ebook and paperback.
Peasantry Press also designed this beautiful cover, and I absolutely love seeing the main character, Joshua, come to life.
It's been a fun, amazing journey, seeing Dragonfly take shape, from its original concept to the novel I have in my hand now.
I hope readers love this book. If they want to know anything else about me or my writing, they can visit me at www.alyssathiessen.com.
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