By the Seaside

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Something about the sea tonight is especially alluring. Seductive. Or maybe it's just the book's influence on me. Whatever it is, it's magical. It lifts me away to a time when I wasn't always afraid. Nagisa is a lesbian girl hiding from her family. This winter break, however, she's going to her grandfather's house by the seaside, where she discovers a book that gets more perplexing by the minute and gains the courage to reveal her sexuality.

Fantasy / Romance
4.8 4 reviews
Age Rating:

Chapter 1


The day everyone hates, because it means the death of the leisurely weekend and the start of the slog.

But this Monday, winter break begins. We’re going to visit my grandfather, my favorite person in the world, and stay at his house the entire week.

But before we go, my sister Layla has somehow gotten the harebrained idea to try to tame my hair. A strong, perfumed scent, the smell of camellia oil, wafts through the air.

“Quit!” I protest, pushing her away. The curly black hair I inherited from my Turkish mother is tangling under her hands. “But you won’t look nice, Nagi! Aren’t there any boys you want to impress?” she says. She calls me Nagi instead of my real name; it’s been her affectionate nickname for me since I was born, since she couldn’t pronounce Nagisa.

“Layla, we’re going to visit Grandpa, not going to a fashion shoot.” I guide her quickly to a subject other than love.

I’m 14 with no boyfriend and no interest in dating, which Layla considers positively sacrilegious. Since the age of 13, she’s had boys practically lining up at our door and tripping over their feet to catch even a glimpse of her.

I don’t want to tell her what gender I truly prefer. I don’t want to see the pity in her dark almond eyes, in all of their eyes, for being different.

The first time I knew I liked girls was in seventh grade. I had a crush on my best friend, Maddie, who was bubbly and lively and pretty as a porcelain doll. I still do.

And I’ve been hiding ever since.

From my perspective, I have only two choices.

Marry a man who I don’t want, have children who I don’t want, and die having lived a life I never wanted.

Or, come out to my family, and have them possibly ostracize me, like I’m afraid Layla will. But I’ll die having lived a life I wanted.

“Girls!” My mother is calling. Our feet patter down the smooth stairs. In my haste, I slip on the third one and grab onto the railing, my heart pumping and breath panting. “Your dad is waiting in the car, and he says he’s freezing!” “We’re coming, we’re coming! And tell Dad it’s not even that cold outside!” I yell in reply, slipping my feet into the sneakers that are still too tight, even after three months of constant wear.

Dad is Japanese, which makes our family somewhat of an oddity.

“For the last time, girls, we’re leaving!” My mother says impatiently.

Our family hops into the car, an old Honda, where my father is waiting. I can practically see the smoke puffing from the engine. “Ready?” he asks, his voice drowning in the loud buckle of seatbelts. We chorus in assent. With a piercing screech, the clunker backs out of the driveway and we’re off to my grandfather’s house.

During the long ride, I start humming my favorite song, “Defying Gravity,” from my favorite musical, Wicked. Layla and my mother scrunch up their faces and plug their ears, but I keep at it. I’m in too good of a mood to let my awful singing voice ruin it.

My grandfather runs a sushi restaurant. “Plenty of delicious food for my granddaughters!” He says as he piles fish on our plates, his wrinkled face splitting in a broad smile. The fish comes fresh from one of his friends.

He lives by the seaside, in a hulking, salt-rotted Victorian. Seawater has faded the walls into a dingy grey. Inside, a multitude of windows let rays of sunlight into the house. As my father says, “It’s more window than wall!” Dust motes can be seen, crystal clear, in the faerie atmosphere. Knickknacks, from polished pebbles to ships in bottles, are strewn on every surface.

It’s a great refreshment from the squat, blocky apartment we live in, walls painted in a drab brown, inside and out. The Finnish furniture is lumpy and “modern.”

Meanwhile, Grandpa’s house gives off a charming, disheveled look, as if we’ve stepped back a century, when women still wore corsets and men had outrageously bushy mustaches.

The wallpaper is also faded, but it’s almost lovelier this way. Coral stripes border thinner ones of misty green, and the thinnest stripes of all, the black ones, are aligned at the edges of each stripe. Every time I ask Grandpa where he got it, his face grows into a dreamy smile. I know he’s thinking about Grandma, who passed away five years ago from breast cancer.

He took it hard, and who wouldn’t, after sixty years of marriage? Her wedding ring is the only piece of jewelry he put in a safety deposit box.

Dad pulls up at a gas station, bellowing, “Anyone who needs to go, go now! We won’t be there for another two hours!” They all troop out of the car, and the silence is eerie.

With a jolt, my phone buzzes and lights up with a text from Maddie, but my eyes are still focused on the leather seat in front of me. I’m not even processing the image because I’m too busy worrying.

I have an assignment due next Monday, after winter break ends, for Algebra, and I haven’t even started.

Before break, the essay I wrote about LGBTQ+ rights made my Language Arts teacher look suspicious, as if she knew what a hypocrite I was. The beginning of the essay started calmly enough, but when I got to the middle, I began typing furiously, my fingers slamming down on the abused keys and a fire burning in my belly. “We’re not animals, so why should they be treated like ones?”

My family comes out of the gas station’s automatic doors, cramming themselves into the car. What seems like miles of road zips by, the trees becoming fuzzy green blurs.

“Think calmly.” I mumble to myself. “Hmm?” “What was that, sweetheart?” “Nothing,” I say, pulling my knees to my face and slouching. My heartbeat slows, and the rhythm of my breath is soothing.

We’re going to spend this break listening to legends, swimming in the ocean, and screaming our throats out from joy. Grandpa’s going to be there, and we can laugh and talk together, just the two of us.

It’ll work out. It always does.

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Further Recommendations

Sara Gomes: Xhdhlxhcjcjchxhdjfjf

Leia: I love this story and the message behind it. I struggle with my size everyday. So I REALLY clicked with this book. The love that her and Axel have is what I hope to have with my husband someday. Thanks for taking the time to write this book. Please don't stop writing. ❤

Faye Davis: For someone so young she has a wonderful imagination. I hope one-day she becomes a very famous author

Gaya Luft: It's a great read, well plotted and stiring all the right emotions. I truly enjoyed reading it. It does need some editting somewhere down the line, but the mistakes are not so bad as to be severely distracting, just an occasional annoyance.

Crystal Boehme: So far this book is amazing i just wish there was more to read of it right now. Im a binge reader and lack patience. Haha

Marietta Balogbog: Well for the flat of story is good but something missing and nut so straight forward I can't fell the sexual story but nut so. But its good book hope I help something for you to write more 👋 👋 👋 see your next book...

Adima Khan: So good I love it. I keep reading more and more and I'm getting sucked into my imagination the more I read it. Love it.It's really sexy and unknowing what one another might do. Love your story keep up the good work 😉❤

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Candi Kevin: I'm enjoying it so far

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Hazel Taylor: Yes that's OKThanks for the reminder

M_E_G_A_T_R_O_N: Nicely written, great writing style and fantastic story line. The characters are interesting, great character development and fascinating story all together. Keep up the good work.

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