5 Afro-Latinx Books to Read More Black Stories

Disclosure: Some of the links in this book review for Afro-Latinx books are affiliate links. If you click them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. The decision of whether or not to buy something is completely up to you.

titles of 5 afro-latinx books

I first wrote this list for Cultura Colectiva when the movie trailer for In the Heights came out. But it never got picked up. To keep up the momentum of supporting Black voices, here are some Afro-Latinx books to add to your TBR.

Lin-Manuel Miranda gained fame as the creator of Hamilton. But before he brought the founding father’s story to life, he brought Broadway In the Heights, a story about a Latinx community in Washington Heights, New York. Now, that musical is coming to the big screen, and fans are excited.

But the lack of diversity among the cast can’t be ignored. Washington Heights is primarily an Afro-Latinx community, and the trailer for the film didn’t feature many black actors. Here are some diverse books to read to prepare for the In the Heights movie.

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

This young adult novel is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with a full cast of people of color. The protagonist Zuri Benitez struggles with the gentrification of her neighborhood while dealing with her four crazy sisters. When the Darcy family moves in across the way, it’s the worst thing Zuri could have imagined.

Get a copy here!

Dominicana by Angie Cruz

This historical fiction novel is about family duty, immigration, and coming-of-age. 15-year-old Ana Cancion finds herself in a position to make a difference for herself and her family. By marrying a man twice her age, she gets the chance to move to Washington Heights, New York. It’s all to make a new life for her whole family. Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic is in political turmoil. But Ana’s heart does not lie with the man she married for opportunity.

Get a copy here!

Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas

Among these Afro-Latinx books is Thomas’s memoir explores a childhood on the streets of Spanish Harlem. He explores growing up a Puerto Rican whose family denied their African heritage for so long. His struggle with his identity within his own family and in American society led to a life filled with drugs and violence. It eventually led to his incarceration after he shot a cop when he was 22-years-old.

Get a copy here!

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Among the best books written in verse is Acevedo’s YA contemporary novel about Xiomara Batista growing up in Harlem. Xiomara delves into her feelings about her relationship with her mother and religion through slam poetry. She develops feelings for a boy her Mami can never know about. The young heroine turns to poems to untangle her emotions. But she must also contend with her mother finding out.

Get a copy here!

Halsey Street by Naima Coster

Coster’s contemporary literary fiction novel dives into the issue of gentrification as the protagonist Penelope Grand returns to Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Penelope gave up on her dream of becoming a successful artist to be by her sick father’s side as he slips further away from life. Meanwhile, Penelope’s mother left for the Dominican Republic to reconnect with her roots, leaving the protagonist to feel abandoned.

Get a copy here!

Black Bloggers, Vloggers and Content Creators List

In light of current events, I’m compiling a list of black bloggers to follow to help uplift their voices. I’m a great believer in the power of storytelling, and right now, the world needs the voices of black writers and creators more than ever. Make no mistake of where this blog and I stand: Black Lives Matter.

For too long, the voices of Black people have been unheard and it’s led to generations of pain and trauma. We cannot continue the way we have in the past. If we are to move forward as a society, then we need to listen and hear the voices of our fellow humans. Stories are a tool for empathy, communication, and connection.

This is a preliminary list pulled together from what I found on my own and others that responded to my call. But I absolutely want to continue updating it with other content creators. So whether you are a black blogger, booktuber, vlogger, mental health advocate, independent journalist, screenwriter, poet, etc., your voice is welcome here. Link me to your websites and blogs in the comments!

blog image with finger pointing

Fashion & Beauty

Eboni Curls – Eboni currently has a list of useful links that connect to resources for actively helping the black community and supporting black-owned businesses.

Travel & Lifestyle

HighOnTrice – This blog provides helpful tips for economical travel, inspiration to go beyond one’s own town, and real lifestyle deals and tips.

Bella Rosa – Maria Cadet combines a passion for fashion, style, and travel into a lifestyle blog that aims to inspire young women to express themselves.

The Ashley Nicole Blog – Ashley Nicole writes about experiences with travel, self-care, and lifestyle through the lens of motherhood and marriage.

Trendy ERA – Trene is a Los Angeles-based food and travel blogger. They specialized in food and restaurant reviews for the LA area. Their blog includes topics like road trip tips and destination recommendations.

Ke and Russell’s Hustle – This YouTube duo covers a variety of topics, from travel to food to books to fashion and dating.

The Reclaimed – Whitney Alese showcases her inner thoughts and rants, whether it’s tips on the latest thriftstore finds or what makes something beautiful.

Fab Glance – Written by Nasheville writer Melissa Watkins, this blog covers fashion, discussions on being plus-size, and tips on how to become a better social media influencer and blogger.

Navigating Jas – This blog takes on pop culture, current events, identity, and so much more, all through the focused lens of the writer’s life experiences.

Fashion & Media Vlogs

Aissata Amadou – From books to movies to music to general life stories, Aissata shares their stories of life. Their video on black and Muslim representation in their May reading wrapup is a good one to dive into.

Sincerely Tahiry – Tahiry creates videos about fashion, books, and self-care with a perspective of living as a plus size and Muslim woman.

Health & Wellness

DarkerBerrie – Yasmine Owoolabi shares tips about “fashion, fitness and finance topics for urban millennials.”

Food

Eatz & Beatz – This blog covers food and music mostly in the Chicagoland area, but includes good eats and beats from around the world as well.

Afroculinaria – Michael W. Twitty is a food writer, independent scholar, culinary historian , and historical interpreter personally charged with preparing, preserving and promoting African American foodways and its parent traditions in Africa and her Diaspora and its legacy in the food culture of the American South.

Book Blogs

Sometimes Leelynn Reads – Leelynn shares book reviews and bookish memes to spread their passion for reading.

Literally Black – As the blog’s tag says, it’s the home of Black Lit reviews. It is a book review site dedicated to promoting Black literature.

Book Girl Magic – This is a book club dedicated to supporting and promoting the voices of black women authors.

Well-Read Black Girl – WRBG’s book club centers on the works of black authors who are queer, trans, nonbinary, and disabled.

bookswhitme – Whitney shares their love of books and reading through reviews, reading wrapups, and lists.

BookishEnds – Alexia’s passion for bookstagram led them to take the leap into book blogging in 2020. Here they share book reviews, recommendations and more.

Booktubers

Myonna Reads – Myonna posts weekly videos about book reviews, book hauls, and monthly reading wrapups.

Chanelletime – This booktuber discusses lots of YA, romance, book adaptations, and more good reading content. Their passion for love triangles is especially entertaining.

Sports

My Passion for Basketball – An Afro-Latinx blogger with a passion for the sport writes most recently about their experience as a minority in America and their community.

Podcasts

The P Word – Tiffany D. Brown is a blogger and podcaster. Her podcast focuses on business, offering expert advice, redefining success, and helping people get closer to their dreams.

GirlTrek – GirlTrek is the largest public health nonprofit for African-American women and girls in the United States. They encourage women to use walking as a practical first step to inspire healthy living, families, and communities.

1619 – A New York Times audio series hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones examines the long shadow of the history of slavery.

On She Goes – A digital travel platform that helps women of color travel more confidently, more adventurously, and more often.

California Love – Hosted by NYT writer Walter Thompson-Hernández, California Love covers race, identity and belonging, all while acting as a love letter to the state.

Ear Hustle – The daily realities of life inside prison shared by those living it, and stories from the outside, post-incarceration.

Audio Dramas

Flyest Fables – An anthology of hopepunk fables for the 21st century created by Morgan Givens.

Centered – Created, written, and produced by Beandrea July, Centered follows Selah Copeland, a recent college grad being prepared to take over her mother’s accounting business. But she considers other options after a life-changing yoga retreat.

Black Widow – A scripted podcast that investigates the mindset of fucking as a millennial. It is a show which promotes positivity around sexual experiences, especially the experiences of women, whatever end of the sexual spectrum they might be on.

All Things Undone – The story of an ancient prophecy that comes to fruition in the form of a solar eclipse that alters the DNA of all humans on the planet in the 1850’s. The supernatural effect on Blacks makes them “unkillable.”

The AAU Murders – A four-part fiction True Crime podcast about Virginia Collins, an African American corporate executive who falls in love in Rochester, NY.

Updated 9/16/2020

Travel Poetry: Keystone Gate

Writing travel poetry whenever I go somewhere new helps keep those memories fresh in my mind, whether I visited just a year ago or five years past. For this edition of travel poetry, I’m sharing my piece about the Agamemenon Keystone Gate in Mycanae, Greece from my trip in 2019.

travel poetry for mycanae greece
Travel Poetry for Mycanae, Greece

Ancient stone ruins hold a reverent magic that transport you for a second back to those times. Walking through the paths created for tourists doesn’t lessen the experience. I couldn’t help but get overtaken with a sense of wonder. I marveled at the stone structures that stood the test of time. How did those ancient people build such complex constructs without the use of modern technology?

Amid the ruins remained signs of past lives. Old wells from which the people gathered water. Gravestones marking the passing of loved ones. I did wonder at the battles fought to protect the old king’s fortress. Those stones didn’t fall on their own after all. Maybe they simply fell to time and age. But more likely, they were taken down by battles won and wars lost.

Below is the travel poetry I wrote as I reflected on my wanderings through the keystone gate of King Agamemnon’s former castle.

King Agamemnon where did you go?
Are these old stones still your home?
From the front gates they called
your name, seeking refuge or just to
see your face? Oh mighty king, come down
from your throne. Are these old stones
still your home? Safe in your tower
you watch the world go by. Do the people
you look down on make you cry? King
Agamemnon, shake off your bones. Are these
old stones still your home? Is this old keystone
a part of your throne?

Poem originally published here.

Meagan Reads YA Horror: Category Five by Ann Davila Cardinal

Disclosure: Some of the links in this book review for Category Five are affiliate links. If you click them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. The decision of whether or not to buy something is completely up to you.

Book cover of Category Five by Ann Davila Cardinal
Category Five by Ann Davila Cardinal, Tor Teen, June 2020

The team at Tor Teen graciously sent me an Advanced Reader Copy, making this book review possible. I read the first book in the series, Five Midnights, just at the beginning of this year.

Summary

In the sequel to Five Midnights, Cardinal brings us back to Puerto Rico with protagonist Lupe, this time in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Lupe looks forward to her summer vacation back on the island, her first time seeing her boyfriend Javier and best friend Marisol since the hurricane hit.

She hopes to lift their spirits and find out how she can help, but as she arrives in Vieques, she gets dragged into a mystery as her uncle the sheriff investigates the murder of the sons of some wealthy investors. Lupe and her friends encounter specters and real-life killers as they try to help her uncle keep his job by solving the mystery for him.

Characters

Lupe’s character always showed a great deal of stubbornness, but it felt like in Category Five she became downright reckless. The 16-year-old girl wants so desperately to help her uncle that she often foregoes common sense.

As an adult reading young adult, it’s easy to cast judgment on such obvious mistakes. But considering the brash nature of many teenagers, her character’s development under the circumstances makes sense. That does not make it any less frustating though as the reader watches Lupe walk into an apparent trap.

Meanwhile, Javier suffers from PTSD after the hurricane and does not know how to work through his anger. He places a great deal of blame on the colonizing influences for his island’s inability to recover, and rightfully so. But he also takes that anger out on the wrong people, namely Lupe, his girlfriend. As the two deal with the mystery afoot, they also run circles around each other. As they navigate their still-new relationship, it takes a terrible hit from the lack of communication.

I did appreciate how they left their relationship at the end of Category Five. Javier and Lupe took a mature approach to the nature of their relationship. After having been through so much trauma, they recognized how to leave things. It’s refreshing to see young characters have a healthy handle of what a friendship and romantic relationship should constitute.

The friendship between Marisol and Lupe came a bit out of left field. In the last book, they left off in a place that indicated mutual understanding and acceptance. But it did not hint at a growing friendship that would bloom into a close connection. The growth of their relationship happened behind the scenes, off the pages. Davila only tells the audience of this friendship through Lupe’s and Marisol’s inner thoughts and dialogue. It never felt organic.

Plot

Unlike Five Midnights, the supernatural element in Category Five did not play as prominent a role. But it did still hold weight and create a fun mystery that reminded me of Scooby Doo On Zombie Island. It also connected the story to Puerto Rico’s long history with its struggle with colonization.

The island finds itself once more at the mercy of wealthy white investors profiting from its disasters. This awakens the ghosts to bring them fear. But ultimately, the real monster of this story does not come from beyond the grave.

The plot used supernatural elements as a tool to misdirect the audience. The story and reason for the murders focuses more on the politics and tensions between the natives of the island and the invading colonizers. But that did not detract from the fun of solving the mystery and being spooked by the undead.

Rating

Overall, I give Category Five 3.5 out of 5 stars. While the horror elements entertained a great deal, the story sometimes felt rushed. Lupe’s and Marisol’s relationship needed to grow more on the page for the audience to accept it as a natural progression. But its condemnation of colonization and its effects made the story dive deeper than it could have if it only focused on the paranormal elements.

Let me know your thoughts on this book if you read it!

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Meagan Reads Poetry: A Sinking Ship Is Still A Ship by Ariel Francisco

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you click them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. The decision of whether or not to buy something is completely up to you.

A Sinking Ship Is Still A Ship by Ariel Francisco, Burrow Press 2020

Full disclosure, I am acquainted with the poet who published this title. But that doesn’t make my review any less sincere. Francisco’s second collection of poetry, A Sinking Ship Is Still A Ship, published by Burrow Press encompasses that overall feeling of, “S*** happens, I guess.”

This collection holds great significance for bilingual readers who speak English and Spanish. Francisco’s work in English is published side by side with the Spanish translation, done by José Nicolás Cabrera-Schneider. But Cabrera-Schneider’s iterations particularly stood out because they retained some of the English quotes within the Spanish translations. It created an authenticity that made for a third language of sorts. It lent itself well to the idea of Spanglish being a whole different form of communication.

Overall, the best way to describe this collection is with the statement, “What a mood.” At every turn, Francisco employs his signature sarcasm that drenches his work in a generation-specific humor. Whether the speaker of a poem talks about insomnia, conversations with an ex, or the state of the environment, it all holds a sense of inevitability that is equal parts anxiety and acceptance.

A Sinking Ship Is Still A Ship offers a glimpse into the relationship between Florida and the speaker. May native Floridians can relate to the feeling. As a Floridian myself, I understood the underlying emotion in these poems. They indicate a distaste for home, but also know full well it is the environment that mold a person. A strange relationship between the speaker and Florida permeates these poems. It’s not love-hate, but simply recognition.

The poem “Descending Darkness” gets a good laugh out of anyone who grew up in the same neighborhood as the building Francisco describes. There’s a sense of validation at reading a poem about a legend the whole community knows about. More so as I actually once worked in that building that many thought abandoned. But in fact housed two watch companies for a time.

But the poet does such a good job at invoking local lore that the reader doesn’t necessarily have to be from South Florida to understand the feeling of shared history. To me, A Sinking Ship Is Still A Ship aims to convey that one’s identity, in all its flaws and positive traits alike, still belongs to them. And no one can take that away or erase it.

Shop your local indie bookstore to get a copy of Francisco’s latest collection of poems. If anyone else has read this poetry collection, let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Travel Poetry: Columns of Legend

I love to travel, but more than that, I love to write poetry based on those travels. I find exploring and discovering the world so inspiring to create poems about my observations.

I’ve had a passion for travel poetry for a while now. I’ve posted a few other poems from my other destinations, like Ireland and Ecuador, that I hope to keep sharing with you all. But I’ve posted the destination poetry in the past without any backstory or notes. I’d like to start changing that.

I wrote the following piece of travel poetry on my trip to Greece last year, in the capital, Athens. I traveled with EF Ultimate Break on the Off the Beaten Path tour that took us to the Parthenon. It’s a famous historical site seen in many pictures. But seeing it in person is another experience altogether.

Seeing ancient ruins in person usually depicted in textbooks, movies, and television shows changes the way you perceive the world as a whole. Seeing it under construction took me by surprise though. The tour director explained that maintenance keeps the Parthenon upright.

It makes sense that modern technology upkeeps these ancient ruins. But there is still something strange about contemporary machinery keeping such legendary structures from crumbling and being lost to history. It somehow changed the magic of these long-lasting archaeological finds.

Still, I felt compelled and in awe that it did last this long, even with the help of our modern tools. The travel poetry I wrote in response to those feelings follows.

travel poetry parthenon athens greece

You see them rendered in
movies or in still shots in
history books, but it doesn’t
prepare you for the real deal.
To stand before the gods’ temples
and the testament to the ancients’
brilliance makes you feel small
in comparison. How could we ever
live up to that legend? Will anything
we create stand the test of time
as those that came before us?
A thousand years from now, will another
young woman stand before our ruins in awe
and think the same thing? Can we become legends?

I originally posted this travel poetry here.

Meagan Reads YA Fantasy: Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you click them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. The decision of whether or not to buy something is completely up to you.

chain of gold the last hours shadowhunters
Hardcover copy of Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare, The Last Hours, Shadowhunter Chronicles

Chain of Gold is the first in The Last Hours series. This story follows the children of beloved characters from The Infernal Devices series. Cordelia Carstairs and her family travel to London while her father undergoes a trial for a mission gone wrong. She tries to make friends among the influential Shadowhunter families to gain favor for her father’s trial. But she ends up befriending the Merry Thieves and stumbles into much more than she bargained for.

It’s an absolute delight seeing the offspring of Will Herondale, Tessa Grey, Gabriel and Gideon Lightwood, and company get into trouble much like their parents before them. Nostalgia and humor abound in seeing the once young and reckless heroes of TID become the concerned parents. Watching them chastise the new generation of Shadowhunters for doing the very same things brings a great sense of joy.

The dynamics between the characters in this novel read differently than in Clare’s past work. Perhaps it’s the inclusion of more queer characters that changed the way these fictional people interact. The novel contains at least four queer characters, and one heavily coded as queer. It’s refreshing to see that many among the core group of heroes. Their sexuality doesn’t make up the majority of their development (at least not for all of them). But the writing doesn’t ignore it either. Clare weaves it in rather well to become an aspect of their identity, rather than being their entire identity.

The dynamic is also different because there’s so many more in the group of friends, rather than the usual three at the forefront. The story follows all the secondary characters on their side quests and eventually brings them all together. Clare develops the characters in a more nuanced way than she has done with her world in the past. These characters are complex and can’t be defined by any one trait. There’s an underlying darkness in many of them that speaks to their personalities and roles.

While I appreciated the large cast of characters, it did feel like a detriment to the overall story. Clare has always been adept at weaving an incredibly tangled web and still making it clear to the reader what’s happening, dropping clues about where the story is going. But in this case, it created a complication that felt more like keeping up with the who’s who of Shadowhunter families.

There were so many instances where I found myself trying to remember who’s kid was who and how they were related or the nature of their relationshp to the other characters that it distracted from the plot. It felt like the story got stretched thin by including so many characters. Focusing on so many characters made for a convoluted narrative.

Even so, Clare weaves her magic as always and makes the reader fall in love with the characters. The investment in their stories and their paths happens immediately. It’s especially easy to dive into this new set of characters if fans of Clare’s work have already read the short story collection Ghosts of the Shadow Market.

The way this novel ends of course leaves the reader yearning for more, ready for the next installment. Overall, I give it 4 out of 5 stars and am looking forward to the rest of the series.

Have you read this book or others by Cassandra Clare? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Shop your local indie bookstore to get your copy of Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare.

Announcement: Las Musas Mentorship Program

I am so incredibly excited to announce that I have been selected for Las Musas mentorship Spring 2020 as a mentee, an Hermana. I’ll be collaborating with my Madrina, Amy Tintera, author of the Reboot and Ruined series. We’ll be working on my current novel in progress, Belina, a young adult sci-fi retelling of the Thumbelina fairytale.

Las Musas is the first collective of Latinx women and nonbinary authors in kidlit writing across middle-grade and young adult. They aim to uplift and support each other’s debut and sophomore novels in children’s literature in the U.S.

The collective consists of Madrinas and Hermanas, mentors and mentees, respectively, that range the Latinx spectrum. They are truly a reflection of the diversity in the Latinx community, and continue to grow.

I’m honored and excited to become a part of this community as a mentee. Congrats to my fellow Hermanas! I can’t wait to see what we all do. Find a full list of Hermanas here.

Learn more about Las Musas.

Unexpected Company

Toyota pickup truck (Image by Nick Magwood from Pixabay)

I dropped the glass on the ground and watched as the glowing blue liquid oozed off the broken pieces of the slide, toward the toolbox where I’d just stored the jar. My breath caught in my throat as I watched the specimen wiggle its mass between the seal of the toolbox. My hands shook as I reached for the latch to see where it went next.

As I suspected, the blue liquid defied gravity and pushed itself into the seal between the jar and its lid, reuniting with its original contents. Sweat dripped down my forehead as what I’d just witnessed settled in.

I ran for the house calling Sean’s name. My partner came running out of Emily’s room to meet me at the threshold. “Phil, what’s wrong?”

“It’s not safe, Sean. The thing, it just, moved, and it went back to the jar, and—”

“What?”

I gulped in air and caught my breath, steadying my nerves. “I put the jar in a toolbox, and then picked up the sample slide from Em’s desk. Next thing I know, it’s sliding on its own across the glass. I dropped the tablet and it slithered into the toolbox, into the jar with the rest of the stuff.”

“Holy cow.” Emily’s voice was behind them. “That’s so cool.”

I shook my head. “It’s dangerous. I think we need to leave. Get the kids to your mom’s house for the night.”

Dylan came out of his room, rubbing his eyes. “What’s going on?” he yawned.

“Dyl. Get a jacket and grab what you need. You too, Em.” I was on the verge of hysterics. “We’re taking you to Nana’s for the night.”

“Phil, are you sure that’s what you saw?”

“Yes, of course I’m sure.”

“Okay, okay.” He put up placating hands. “We’ll get the kids squared away, come back, and call someone.”

“Call who? The police? The army? National Guard? Who do you call about an alien substance you dug up from an oiling rig and brought home to your kids?”

Before Sean could say one more thing to try to calm me down, there was a knock on the door. We all looked toward the front hallway. None of us were expecting anyone at this time of night.

“Hello?” came a voice from the outside. “Is anyone home? We’re looking for our pet.”

I laughed, relieved. Sean chuckled too and turned on the hall light to go answer the front door.

“Hi, sorry we haven’t—” Sean’s jaw dropped as he opened the door and saw standing before him what looked like humanoid lizards.

I stepped in front of the kids to shield them, but I felt as their hands grabbed my waist to look around me.

“I’m so sorry, I know our appearance must startle, but truly, we mean no harm.” The creature on the left had a feminine voice. “We’re just looking for our pet. Well, part of it, anyway.”

“Uh…looks like oil, turns solid, then glows blue?” Sean asked.

The lizard man on the right nodded its head with excitement. “So you’ve seen it?”

I stepped forward and took a gulp. “I’m sorry, what—” I took a pause to choose my words carefully. Alien or not, I didn’t want to be rude. “Or rather, who are you?”

“Gracious,” laughed the one with a masculine voice. “So rude of us. I’m Hal, and this is my partner, Hedra.”

“Pleased to meet you. We’re not exactly from around here.” Hedra smiled.

“No kidding,” whispered Dylan.

I gave him a sharp look. “Dylan.”

Hal laughed, a sound that sounded like hissing. “It’s quite alright. We’re not human, so we know you’re unaccustomed to our kind.”

“We don’t surface often, and we rarely interact with your species since, well…” Hedra gestured to her and her husband’s faces and bodies. “But in this case, it was an emergency. We lost our dear Iggy.”

“The sludge’s name is Iggy?” laughed Emily.

“It’s not sludge, dear,” said Hedra with amusement. “It’s a sentient being known as a janopy in our world.”

“You said you don’t usually surface. Does that mean your world is underground?” Emily stepped around me now to get a closer look at the lizard people. I tried to pull her back, but she was already standing by Sean’s side. He put out a hand to stop her from stepping outside the house.

“My, you are a clever one.” Hal gave the girl a warm smile. “Yes, we live below the surface, many, many miles. Very close to the Earth’s core, in fact.”

“We like to go camping sometimes up here,” Hedra added. “The drilling your people do for oil makes for easy tunnels for travel.” She gave me a wink.

“Well, we have a jar full of the, I’m sorry, janopy?” Sean asked.

Hedra nodded.

“Yes, it’s in our tool shed.” I stepped forward now, tentative, with Dylan close behind. “I can get it for you.”

“Oh that would be splendid, thank you.” Hal bowed his head with hands pressed together and pointing forward.

I looked to Sean to give him a silent, Stay here with the kids, before heading back out to the shed. I grabbed the jar and found the liquid had paled its blue light and was almost back to the original state we’d found it in.

With the jar in hand, but held out at a safe distance, I walked back to the house and placed it in Hal’s outstretched hand.

“Iggy, you scoundrel,” Hedra cooed. “Where is the rest of you?”

Sean and I looked at one another and started laughing.

“Sorry, folks, your Iggy is far from home,” Sean teased. “But we can take you to it if you’d like.”

I tilted my head. “Sean, the kids—”

“Can come with you,” piped up Emily. “We wanna see the rest of Iggy.”

Dylan nodded in agreement. Sean had that look on his face again, like a kid on Christmas. I rolled my eyes. “Fine, fine. Everyone comes along. But I don’t think we can all fit in the truck.”

“No worries, my good man.” Hal clapped me on the back. His touch was surprisingly warm. “We have our own mode of transportation. You just lead the way.”

I looked around the yard, seeking some vehicle I’d missed before in the dark of the night.

“No, no, darling. It’s us,” laughed Hedra. “We’re the mode of transportation.”

Emily and Dylan were already in the truck and honking the horn.

“Wait, are you saying you run?” Sean’s eyes looked about ready to fall out of his head.

Hal nodded. “Up to sixty miles per hour. These days at least. Not as spry as we once were.”

Hedra smiled. “Yes, when we were younger we could go as fast as one of your steam engines. Now, age has caught up to us.”

“Exactly how old are you?”

“Sean.” My face turned red as a crab.

Hal laughed. “No offense taken, gentlemen. My partner and I here are about two-hundred and fifty years old.”

“About?”

Hedra shrugged. “You lose track of time when you live this long.”

Emily honked the car horn again. “Iggy is waiting. Let’s go.”

Sean held out a hand. “Since you’ll be running, would you like us to hold the jar for you?”

Hedra handed it back to him. “Yes, dear. Thank you so much.”

We got in the car, the engine already running thanks to Dylan, and settled ourselves in for the long ride. It would take at least three hours on the highway to get back to our drill site.

“You think they can keep it up for that long? The running, I mean.” I looked to Sean as he pulled out of the driveway. He gave me the devil’s smile he knew I loved. “Let’s find out.”

This is part 4 of a serialized short story I wrote called “Better Than Fiction.” See the rest below.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3