As decided by vote, here's the next challenge, as written by me:

Sharing Secrets, Coming Out, Spilling the Tea

Write a story in which a secret is revealed. Maybe you have a coming out story from Pride month. Maybe your story holds some other secret. It will all remain under wraps until you post.

Go onward and write! Then post your story here as an answer, and get feedback in the comments. If you ask a main site question while writing for this challenge, leave a comment below this question or mention it in your answer.

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3 Answers 3


"Thanks for the great evening. I really enjoyed our date." Lilly kissed him. "And thanks for bringing me home." She kissed him again.

He looped his arms around her waist and pulled her closer.

"And..." Out of excuses, she just kissed him a third time.

"What was that last one for?" Frank was grinning like a Cheshire cat.

"For being a great kisser." She lingered in his arms indecisively for a few moments, glancing at her door.

"What is it? Deciding whether to invite me in?"

She bit her lip nervously. "I want to. But..." She sighed. "Oh darn it. I really like you." She looked him in the eyes earnestly, "Frank, there's something I should tell you before we go any further."

Frank was a bit perturbed by how the mood had suddenly turned serious. "I don't need to be worried, do I?"

"No," she said. And under her breath, "not as worried as me."

Whatever it was, he could see in her eyes this was a crossroads Lilly had more than once walked away from alone, and hurt.

He followed her as she led him inside.

"I'll make us some coffee. Have a seat."

After pouring Frank and herself a cup of coffee, she excused herself to change.

When she returned a few minutes later, she was wearing shorts and an over-sized T-shirt, and clutching a huge teddy-bear to her chest. This was the most casual Frank had ever seen her.

One defining characteristic of Lilly, as he'd known her until then, was that she always wore a corset. He'd assumed at first that she wore it because she was a goth, but he'd had it backwards. She'd told him she wore it for medical reasons, but without going into further detail. The goth style had developed around that. The blue hair and lacy dresses were a perfect cover, something to excuse wearing a corset.

Lilly dropped into the large armchair across from Frank. She pulled up her legs and sat cross-legged. She parked the bear in her lap, arms wrapped around it, and leaned her chin on it's head. Then she just stared at Frank for a while, considering how to broach the subject.

"The thing is," Lilly stretched her arms out in front of her and leaned into the bear, "I don't have a waist."

Frank raised his eyebrows slightly, either he was misunderstanding, or she was making a bigger deal of it than she needed to. "I really don't expect it to look as thin as the corset makes it look, if that's what you're worried about."

"No, I mean it's not there." She gestured with her hands on the bears stomach. "This part, between the chest and the pelvis, it's gone."

Frank looked at her uncomprehending.

Lilly sighed. The condition she was born with was too ridiculous to describe by words and expect it to be believed by someone over seven. There was only one way to make him understand. "Here, let me show you, but... Please don't freak out... too much."

She set the bear down besides the chair and breathed in to steel her nerves, then lifted her shirt up to her chest.

Frank blinked. He was staring at the back of the chair, right through where her belly button should have been. And he could see the back of her shirt being pulled into the gap from how she was holding it. "That's... peculiar."

"Hah. Peculiar. That's the understatement of the year." She put her shirt back down. "It's absurd. Preposterous. A cosmic joke. The midwife delivering me had a nervous breakdown and quit her job. My father disappeared on us. My first boyfriend never even came back to school after..." She grabbed the teddy and buried her face in the back of its head.

Frank gave her a few seconds to gather herself. "Lilly, I won't deny it's weird, and it might take some getting used to. But if I can be frank with you...", he paused a moment, "then you can be Lilly with me."

Lilly looked up at him, and burst out a snort of laughter, tears still fresh in her eyes. "God, Frank, that's a terrible joke."

"I know." He grinned. "I suppose this dashes my dream of ever seeing you in a crop-top, and showing off your belly button to all my friends to make them jealous."

He walked over to her and bent down to kiss her. Then took her hand and pulled her up. "I'm not going to give you up that easily." He hooked his arms around her and pulled her closer. They looked at each other, and then looked down. He'd only managed to pull the bottom of her shirt through the waist-gap.

"Frank." She took his hands, one in each of hers, and looked up at him intently. "If you want to grab me," she planted his hands firmly on her ass, "do it here."

Honestly, I had named him Frank before thinking of that awful pun.

I just tried to think up the weirdest secret I could at the moment.

Also, I think her abdomen crosses into another dimension. It's there and connects both halves, but with a detour. But the story's too darn long as it is without shoehorning in a sci-babble explanation.

  • This is delightful! I love both of them.
    – Sciborg
    Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 3:37

"Take this handkerchief," said Lady Gillaine.

Rosaleen obeyed. Plain, white, nicely hemmed, but without so much as a monogram. It could not be meant as a momento, she thought, and felt a little chilled. She looked up.

"It's magic." Lady Gillaine coughed. "Take this handkerchief, throw it on the floor, and ask a question. Whoever answers you falsely and walks over the handkerchief will fall down and break his leg."

Rosaleen looked at it for a long minute. "Is there some kind of trick? Why I have never seen you use it?"

Lady Gillaine managed a weak smile. "The trick of it is -- you can only ask one question, ever. Though you can ask it as many times as you wish." She let her head fall back on the pillow. "It was a fairy gift. Three generations ago."

And in that time, no one had wanted a question answered that badly. As for her, she knew her tales.

"'Are you the prince who visited my castle?'"

Lady Gillaine laughed, faintly, and her eyes closed.

A few hours later, a lady in waiting bustled Rosaleen off to bed.

In the morning, a maid thought to tell her that Lady Gillaine had died.


I warm my hands by the fireplace. The crackling sound is soothing in a way after my mad ride through the drenching thunderstorm outside. Kiana, my host, sits on the ground beside me sipping from a cup of tea.

"So what brings you to my lonely cabin on such an unpleasant evening?" Kiana asks, dipping a finger into her tea and smiling. Her smile always seems to enchant me, but then I do find her very enchanting overall. Her blue-gray woolen dress suits her heavy form well and her matching blue eyes dray me in with a gaze of kindness.

"I have a letter from my general to the Master of Dorak."

"So you come to me only as a respite from the storm?" Kiana seems insulted.

"Not only but that is what brought me to your cabin."

Kiana opens a small bag on her belt and tosses something from it into the fire. The flames burst up and she smiles. "Well whatever reason you are welcome here."

I nod and smile. Looking around the small cabin my eyes struggle to focus in the dim firelight. A flash of lightning sparks my vision with the many coloured tapestries with which Kiana decorates her cabin. I remember last time I visited the fair Kiana during the day. How her tapestries sparkled in the sunlight. Well, all except their bottom edges which all seemed scorched as if by fire.

A thunder clap makes me jump and Kiana laughs at my reaction.

"The waters do strike hard tonight," she says, looking into the fire.

The fire light on her face holds steady, illuminating her beautiful blue eyes with its amber light. Looking into the fire myself, the flickering light dances into my eyes like volley after volley of guns firing into the darkness.

"You always have the warmest fire Kiana. It warms me almost as much as being with you warms my heart."

Kiana covers her smile with a hand and leans in close to me. "The fire in my hearth cares for you too. You always seem to spark it brighter when you are here."

I smell her hair, it smells like smoke and spice. My hand strokes her cheek and I kiss her on her lips. The firelight shines bright as I kiss Kiana, lighting the moment just as the moment lights a flame in my heart.

Kiana runs her hand through my hair and closes her eyes. As the kiss ends she sits back and holds a fiery smile. "Do you know why I live up here on the mountain? So far from trees and water?" Her eyes open and the firelight flickers in them.

"I do not."

She laughs and looks back into the fire. Her hand reaches towards it but stops just short, with little flecks of flame licking mere hairsbreadths away from her fingers. "It is a secret known only to me and my flame."

"Surely a safe one as flames do not speak."

"You would be surprised I think. I have had many a conversation with my flame for they are wiser than most persons I meet." Her hand reaches into the fire and my eyes watch in concern and then confusion as the flames dance around her hand. Not even a spot of soot seems to darker her beautiful skin.

"And how can a flame be wise? It burns and crakles but cannot read."

"My flame is special. They keep me safe and help with my chores." Kiana smiles. "I live up here on stone to keep them safe in return. The forests and waters are full of enemies who would seek to quench my flame." Her hand turns in the fire, still showing no signs of soot or even signs of bringing pain.

"I do not understand. Your words seem nonsense to me."

Kiana nods. "If you swear on your heart and your love that you will never tell then I shall make my words as clear as day." She smiles.

"I would do anything for you Kiana. You light a fire of love in my heart brighter than the sun itself. There is nothing I would not do for you."

"Then it is good that I and my flame both trust you." Kiana smiles. Her hand seems to grip a tendril of flame.

My eyes widen as she pulls back her arm and out of the fire a fire seems to step. Now free of the fireplace and the fire within, I see what seems to be a creature made of fire. My mind reels and wrenches upon the very idea. As I try to comprehend what I see, it seems to look up at me.

"This is my flame and my daily companion," Kiana says. Her hand seems to pat at the body of the fire creature. "They keep me warm and keep me company out here in the wilds."

"How can it be?" My words tumble out like stones down a hill. My eyes dance back and forth between Kiana and her flame.

Kiana draws her flame back behind her. "Please have no fear. They mean no one any harm." Her eyes darken and my heart seems to twinge.

What fire is this that moves and sees? My mind reels in worry and fear. But then Kiana seems safe even as the fire watches me so my heart guides me back from the fear. A strange case this is but my heart will keep me true. So I smile at Kiana. "I am sorry Kiana. Your flame caught me off kilter. But if they want to be friends, then I shall."

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