Less Than Heroic was a semi-monthly, free to read serial novel that I write and illustrate. I started this as a way to build discipline, finish something, and to write a fun story that I enjoyed telling.
I’m currently revising the first installment, and will publish the entirety here when it’s ready.
“You could show him a little mercy,” Sensei Roberts said. “He can’t fight back, you know.”
Molly ceased her assault and wiped a hand across the beaded sweat on her forehead. “When he taps out, I’ll let him go,” she said.
The others had all quit, and were busy changing, or packing up, or just hanging out along the benches of the dojo. Molly glanced toward them with a twinge of jealous regret, and gave the bag another half-hearted punch. Her teacher slowed as he crossed the mat behind her.
“Is everything all right?” he asked. Hesitant, like he wasn’t sure he should ask.
“I’m fine,” she lied, avoiding his eyes. Lying had become a habit, lately. A necessary one, but she didn’t like doing it. Molly retrieved her water bottle from its spot on the bench, twisting the cap with fingers still tingling from the impact. “A little thirsty, that’s all.”
“Have you given any more thought to the tournament?” he asked. “You still have a few days to sign up.”
She thought about the last time she’d competed. It had been fun. Exciting. And the challenge had driven her, helped her focus, even helped her reign in her volatile temper…right up until she had lost control and nearly broken someone’s clavicle.
No. Competition wasn’t a good idea. “I don’t think so,” she said.
“Let me know if you change your mind,” he said. “Or if you need anything else.” His attention lingered, accompanied by a slight frown. Then he moved on, speaking quietly to another student.
By the time Molly changed clothes, the dojo was almost empty. Marcus and Brianna were idling by the door, and judging by Marcus’s grin, he’d finally started to win her over. They looked up at her approach.
“Hey, Molly,” Brianna said. “We’re gonna head down the street for some frozen yogurt or something. Want to come?”
She almost said yes. Part of her desperately wanted to. But the person she was and the person she wanted to be…
“I’ve got to get home,” she said. “Dad wants me in by nine-thirty.” It wasn’t strictly a lie. He expected her home immediately, but he would be fine—ecstatic, probably—if she actually chose to do something social instead of getting in trouble again. “Maybe next time?” she said.
“Yeah, definitely,” Marcus said. Bells jingled as he pushed the door open, and a rush of cold, humid air billowed inside. Marcus ducked his head through and peered at the sky. “Looks like it’s finally starting to rain.”
As they watched, the light drizzle became a downpour, drenching the sidewalk and blowing stray droplets through the door.
Be careful, her father would say. The rain makes you reckless.
“Wow,” Brianna said, blinking in surprise. “Do you need a ride, M? It’s coming down pretty hard.”
But Molly smiled, throwing her hood over her head. She stepped into the torrent and resisted the urge to laugh.
“It’s just water,” she said. “I’ll be fine.”