Outsider A Forbidden Island Short Story by Lianne Simon Genre: Sweet Fantasy Romance, Coming of Age
In the closing hours of World War II, an experimental weapon meant for London struck Eilean nan Sìthean, a remote Scottish island. Within forty-eight hours, all of the men there died. Six months later, the few women who survived gave birth to the children of the plague—the Fair Folk of Scottish mythology reborn.
Nearly seventy years later, a young gold named Màiri discovers an Outsider washed ashore—the first human she’s ever seen. Saving his life would mean spending the rest of her days with a stranger, the sworn enemy of her people. But she cannot let him die alone.
My little she-goat often feasts on the berries that grow along the old stone fence at the edge of our pasture. I wander south toward the village, but don’t spy her anywhere. My father mended the gate to the commons, so she can’t have gone that way.
Turning north again, I begin the long trek up to Am Bàrr. From the summit I’ll be able to survey the rest of our farm, but it’s the view of the ocean that always tugs at my eyes.
To the east—just a few leagues distant—lie other islands. Silver specks rush across the ground and through the air. Niall once told me they were metal craft piloted by Outsiders—strangers who enter the change before they’re born, and who spend their entire lives as one gender.
The Daoine-Sìth love peace, but Outsiders kill without mercy any who leave our island. Their weapons target even small fishing boats that stray from our shores. How have we ever harmed them that they hate us so?
To the west a distant gray shape fades in and out of the mists. Long ago, a faraway land called Aimeireaga sent a floating island. To protect us, they said. Our elders thanked them, but insisted that God alone would our defender be. Still, they haunt our shores.
Along the coastline boulders tumble into the sea. Halfway up to Am Bàrr I find Anna, perched on an outcrop between the trail and the cliffs. She doesn’t come when I call, but I won’t follow her out on the tilted rock. Only a ruadhan would be so bold. Or so foolish.
A glance at the sun tells me I can afford to be patient. So I sit and wait for my stubborn pet to tire of her game.
Thoughts of Anna flee my mind when I gaze back down the coast toward Cladach Beag. Something looking very much like a dead body floats in the shallows.
Watercolor Memories A Forbidden Island Novel
Anya paints a watercolor landscape—the cherry grove that haunts her dreams. Something happened there, but her past flows like the colors that run down her artwork. Can she trust anything she remembers?
A year ago, Anya was a petite blonde. Now, she’s a tall and muscular redhead, playing soccer on a boy’s team. Her foster parents and her caseworker insist she see a doctor about her bodily changes and her gender issues.
To avoid medical treatment, Anya runs away from her foster home. As the girl searches for acceptance and family, the world around her shifts. She may find love. But will she ever have the peace she craves?
White locks, pink eyes,
on her mother’s breast she lies.
Blue eyes, golden braid,
gentle girl, at home she stayed.
Redhead running through the vale,
soon enough, he’ll think he’s male.
—Notes on Daoine Sìth Biology
Faded memories of a strange dream slip away as I wake. In the gray twilight of my room I stretch and moan. All I did was run away from home. Yet I feel like—like I had a for-serious workout. Or spent the night with Dylan. Yeah. That.
My leg cramps. The bed squeaks as I push myself upright. Jazmine gave me a ride to Stepanova’s and showed me to this room in her upstairs apartment. Did I go right to sleep? Eat supper? Much as I struggle to remember, I dredge up nothing beyond an image of Jazmine’s pretty smile.
The urge to pee drives me from the bed. I flip on a light and search the room. Nothing in the antique dresser. The closet is spotless. And empty. My chest pounds syncopation. What did I do with my clothes?
A pink satin robe lies draped across the foot of the bed. A fragmented image drifts across my vision—me showering and—I run fingers through my hair. Yeah. Mousse. But I’m out of time. I grab the robe and dash across the hallway to the bathroom.
After relieving myself, I turn the makeup lights on full bright and lean close to the mirror. No trace of makeup. Okay. Nausea whispers that—whatever happened—it’s too late now. I should never have left my foster home. My heart thumps in my temples. What is wrong with me?
Jazmine’s not in the kitchen or living room, so I tap on her door and ease it open. My throat tightens when I see her movie studio of a bedroom. Lights. Cameras. Microphones. Mirrors. A certainty not supported by memory strikes me—I’ve been here before. Naked. With her. Under the bright lights. Our bodies entwined.
Scenes from an old video flicker through my brain. The ache in my legs. The small bruises. Terror flows over me like the ocean breakers in a hurricane. I flee to the living room, but a dark-haired man with Russian eyes stands between me and freedom. Where did he come from? I gasp for air. My pulse races as I succumb to his overpowering grip. “Please don’t hurt me!” I say. Almost a scream.
Lianne Simon’s father was a dairy farmer and an engineer, her mother a nurse. She grew up in a home filled with love and good books.
Tiny and frail, Lianne struggled physically, but excelled at her studies. In 1970, she was awarded a scholarship to the University of Miami, from which she graduated in 1973. Fond memories of her time there remain with her.
Some years later, after living in several states, and spending time abroad, Lianne settled in to the suburbs north of Atlanta, where she now lives with her husband and their cat.
While seeking answers to her own genetic anomalies, Lianne met a family whose daughter was born with one testis and one ovary. As a result of that encounter, she spent more than a decade answering inquiries on behalf of a support group for the parents of such children.
Lianne hopes that writing this book will, in some small way, contribute to the welfare of children born between the sexes.
We caught up with Outsider’s narrator, Katie Hart.
Q. Tell us a bit about yourself. A. I’m a Scottish actor and voice over artist based in London, UK. I was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland and moved to London to pursue acting and attend drama school four years ago.
Q. Where did you train? A. RADA for a year, then did my master’s at East 15 Acting School.
Q. How did you get started in voiceover? A. As a kid, I was obsessed with stories. Before I could read, my Mum would read me the Beatrix Potter books which I quickly learned off by heart. One Christmas, my Dad dug out one of his old cassette tapes and recorded Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone off the radio for me so I could listen to the book at night. I was five or six at the time and had just learned to read. Listening to Stephen Fry’s narration did something to me. His characterisations, voices, tones; the way he brought the magic to life made it just that: magic. I soon begged my parents for more books and audiobooks to devour.
I knew from that point that I wanted to tell stories; I wanted to bring colossal tales to life for adults and kids alike. I guess that’s when my interest in voiceover began.
Q. What's your favourite thing about it? A. For me, it’s providing stories in another format. For kids who aren’t yet able to read or for those who struggle with reading, having another narrative to turn to just does it for me. That and voicing all the characters!
Q. Who’s your favourite character to voice in this book? A. Well, I don’t want to give too much away, but I love voicing mythical characters. There’s so much fun you can have with their voices!
Q. That must be fun! Speaking of which, how did you find thatOutsiderdealt with Scottish lore? A. Lianne has really captured the essence of our culture. Celtic culture places a lot of emphasis on water creatures. There are loads of tales of kelpies, sprites, selkies which spring to mind and of course, Nessie (the Loch Ness Monster) who everyone already knows.
Q. Kelpies and what…? A. (Laughs) Kelpies are water shapeshifters which usually take on the form of horses. Sprites are devilish water pixies, and selkies are ‘seal folk’; like mermaids but they change from human to seal-form by shedding their skin.
Q. Sounds magical! A. Don’t be fooled. They may sound enchanting but ‘faeries’ in our culture are often wee devils and prone to mischief!
Q. Maybe I’ll give them a miss then… So, what other work do you have coming up? A. I’ve recently received funding to develop and devise a new play about mental health which I’m hoping to get on stage next year (depending on COVID-19, of course). I’m also writing a comedic short film about therapy which is due to start shooting in the new year. All in all, there’s loads of exciting things coming up!