Maybe I Can Rescue You: An Excerpt
By Ruby Faith Hentoff
Tatiana Familia turns broken friendship into power. Sapphire Harmony Jones has secrets too dark to confide. What will happen when their paths intertwine?
The air is bitter, sky black as onyx. A full moon rises boldly in the atmosphere, encompassed by infinite stars. If only they were a few kilometers closer.
Tia Familia sits in her garden, candle propped by her workstation. The clay figures are starting to accumulate, nearly tipping over one another. One wrong flick, and they could all topple like dominos.
I have to win, she thinks as she furiously sculpts. Lately, her brain has been consumed with her project. She’s never wanted anything so passionately in her life, even though she doesn’t understand why. It’s one of those paradoxes she can’t quite pinpoint. Nevertheless, there’s a furnace in her heart, telling her, Keep it up. You’re going to get this victory.
Suddenly, Tia hears a knock at her fence. She jumps; the knock repeats. The chisel slips from her quivering hands, poking the bridge of her foot. She winces and takes a deep breath, then stands up and apprehensively approaches the fence.
When she lifts the latch, a shadowy figure slithers inside. Tia whirls around, scanning the intruder. Her candle has gone out, leaving nothing but a silhouette in her view. The figure’s clothes are long and baggy, wisps of oily hair clinging to their forehead. When Tia takes a step closer, they inch back. She decides to keep her space—mostly for her own protection.
“What brings you here so late?” she asks calmly, motioning for her guest to take a seat.
The figure lowers themself onto the bench. “I need your help.” The voice is so rough that it’s almost inhuman, as if they swallowed a strip of sandpaper. Unlike most visitors, it’s clear they didn’t come to shut her down.
“Alright.” Tia leans against the fence, intrigued. “What gives?”
“I’m lost. I’m hopeless. I don’t know who I am anymore.”
This takes Tia by surprise. She’s heard many depressing stories, but no one’s been as straightforward as this client. “I’m sure you’re not hopeless. What happened to make you feel this way?”
They pause to think, breath jagged and slow. “Everything. Everything about me is broken.”
“That’s not what I asked. What’s your background?”
The figure goes silent. They don’t budge a centimeter. Tia attempts to stare into their mind, recover the bits and pieces that they choose to conceal. But no matter how hard she stares, how intensely she focuses, she can’t read a single portion of their soul. How peculiar!
Suddenly, she’s struck with an idea. It makes her tremble, but she’s certain that this is her only hope of getting through. She stands up, sensing a cold pair of eyes following her every movement. She shivers. “Wait here. I’ll be right back.”
Tia steps into the house. It’s pitch black, but having lived here for over two years, she can feel her way around with little stumbling. When she reaches her room, she scans her bedside table for a switch, and a small moon-shaped lamp flickers on. Its glow hardly illuminates more than her pillows, but it’s enough for her.
She opens the bottom cabinet of her dresser and starts rifling through her belongings. Umbrellas, yoga mats, pink sweater… there! Tia lifts a large box from the bottom of her drawer and runs her index finger over the front. A cloud of dust rises from it, sending her into a fit of coughing, and she quickly scrambles downstairs.
When she enters the garden, the strange figure is still there, waiting in silence. She gazes up at the stars, and something about the way they shine encourages her, Keep going.
Tia takes a deep breath and sets the box on the bench. As she kneels, cold tile pressing against her ankle, she carefully opens it.
A lucid reflection of the moon glows on the mirrored chessboard.
A muffled grunt comes from the dark figure. Tia can sense a spark of warmth in them but pretends not to notice and continues to construct the game. By the time every piece is in place, all that remains in the box is an amethyst charm with a silver chain.
Without thinking, she fastens it around her neck. The pendant vibrates like a device on the verge of explosion. The figure looks up as she turns the board around so that they face the white pieces.
“You go first,” Tia states. “Let’s play.”
This piece is a chapter from a book I’m working on. It’s about a girl named Tia Familia, who helps to turn people back into their true selves after they’ve lost their identity. Years after drifting apart from a close friend of mine, I was inspired to channel my emotions through a work of magical realism. It was an incredible experience; not only did my writing change drastically, but it taught me how to keep going when I felt like throwing everything aside. I’m now in the editing phase, so I hope to publish “Maybe I Can Rescue You” in a few months.
Ruby Faith Hentoff is a passionate fiction writer and junior in high school. When she’s not writing short stories, screenplays and songs, you can find her drawing, baking or listening to Broadway musicals. One of her missions in writing is to spread epilepsy awareness and connect to those who suffer from seizures. She lives in Manhattan, New York.