Origin Story: How Changers: Manifesting Destiny Began
In February of 2012, fellow author Tara Tyler put out a writing prompt for flash fiction no longer than 500 words. The prompt was “secret admirer.” I wrote the following, which was exactly 500 words (not counting the title):
“Who’s it from?” Cee asked. She held the delicate silver chain in her splayed fingers, the key pendant dangling in front of her nose. The diamond at its center flashed hypnotically.
Marcus shrugged and took a seat across the table. “A lot of people like you.”
“Yeah, but not a lot of them could buy me something like this.” Cee returned the necklace to the cotton bedding of the little red box. “And why did you have it?”
“Because no one would dare try to get into your locker.” A corner of Marcus’s mouth twitched in humor. “Even with as nice a key as that one.”
Cee was forced to acknowledge his point; her locker was known for booby traps both physical and magical. She eyed Marcus suspiciously. “It wasn’t you?”
He held up his hands as if to surrender. “You know me well enough to tell when I’m lying.” He opened his eyes wide for her to read them, but Cee didn’t really have to. Marcus was her best friend, and sweet, a poet at heart—and not at all interested in girls. Though Cee wouldn’t have put it past him to buy her a Valentine’s gift, if only to keep from having to listen to her whine if she didn’t get any.
Of course, now Marcus was going to have to listen to her fuss over who had given her this one.
“It was in your locker?” Cee asked him, all business now, ready to cull the facts.
Marcus nodded as he picked at his salad.
“What kind of charms do you keep on it?”
And now Marcus laughed. “None. If someone wants my school books, they’re welcome to them.”
“I need to see the scene of the crime.”
Marcus looked up from his lunch.
But Cee was already on her feet, taking her tray to the trash bin.
“There’s nothing,” Cee marveled. She ran her hands over the locker a fifth time. There had to be something, some little thing she was missing . . .
“Are you going to wear it?” Marcus asked suddenly.
“Not until I know who it’s from.” Cee’s hands paused in their search, hovering over the combination lock. “What . . .?”
Marcus leaned in to look. “Not magic.”
“Why?” Cee asked. “Why physically break into a locker if you could just . . .” Her eyes met Marcus’s.
“Justin?” he suggested. Justin was one of the slower students, not terribly gifted at magic. It would have been like Justin to force a locker rather than charm it open.
But Cee kept staring into Marcus’s eyes.
“Not Justin?” he said at length.
“Marcus,” Cee breathed, “have you morphed yet?”
Marcus flinched at the deeply personal question. “No one morphs at our age.”
“Are you sure?” Cee pressed.
“Of course I’m sure. That’s really rude, Cee. I know we’re friends, but—”
“Don’t panic, Marcus,” Cee said gently, leaning in for a closer look. “But someone else is in there.”I knew at the time it was something special, something I would need to come back to and flesh out. But it wasn’t until I joined a writing group (now defunct) in 2014 that I would turn this bit of flash into a larger project. The result is Changers: Manifesting Destiny, out now from Evernight Teen. While the necklace scene here doesn’t exist in the novel version, I think this scene informed the relationship dynamic between Cee and Marcus in the longer work. Their friendship is the cornerstone of the story, and Manifesting Destiny is first in a trilogy. And it all started here. So thanks, Tara, for the prompt! You never know when something might become a springboard for something greater.