It's finally happening – Constant is on its way!

It's been a long time coming, but in 2024 my original story Constant will be published as ane-book (that's the plan right now, anyway).

I'm also active on Twitter (*hrm*X*hrm*) again, so you can find me there ocdmess

Also, you can find me on Instagram emilieiswriting

If you have any questions, send me a PM.
I'll answer every single one (I know I've sucked at answering lately, I'll be better, promise!)

Down below is a snippet from the first chapter of "Constant".

Let me know what you think.

I miss you all! 3

Thanks for reading!

Constant - teaser

The girls' bathroom filled with the noxious blend of dozens of essential oils as I toppled my backpack in the sink. A mere nudge in the hallway had shattered the fragile bottles, transforming the interior of my once-dry bag into a pungent sea of oils that ruined my books. I was in deep trouble, and I knew it. My mom would give me hell about this.

As the door swung open, Bethany and her friend, Joyce, entered. Joyce wrinkled her nose, emitting a disgusted noise. "Eww, what the hell?" she exclaimed, glancing at me. Joyce had never had a soft spot for me.

"Sorry," I muttered, attempting to sweep the glass shards into the trash with a scrap of toilet paper. Joyce rolled her eyes and vanished into a stall. Meanwhile, I struggled to pat my backpack's interior dry, fighting back tears at the overpowering scent. I tried not to gag.

"Is it a special dietary lunch or a failed chemistry project?" Bethany asked, friendly as ever. I couldn't discern if Bethany, who had always been friendly, was mocking me or not.

"Neither," I replied with a flat voice. I had no issues with Bethany, but a regrettable first impression had prevented us from becoming friends.

"Maya's one of the nonsensical oil-people," Joyce scoffed from within the stall. "She thinks they're a cure-all. It's ridiculous."

My cheeks flushed with embarrassment. Why did my mom insist on sending me to school with oils when I had no one to sell them to? Fifteen bottles, fifteen dollars each, down the drain. I shuddered. Damn it. Mom was going to kill me dead. She was already on the brink of desperation; this would push her over the edge – and I was afraid of what would happen. My throat closed up and the tears forming in my eyes were no longer just a product of the oils. Damn it. Damn it. Damn it.

Ignoring me after she exited the stall, Joyce barely acknowledged my presence. Bethany handed me a tissue, and I accepted it without a word.

"Don't mind Joyce," Bethany consoled. "She's a bitter old lady… or teenager. Sometimes it's hard to tell." She smiled, and I forced a smile in return.

After doing my best to clean the backpack, I scrutinized my disheveled reflection. My mascara had smeared, and my hair was a mess. Regret crept in—why had I allowed my mom to impose this on me? I needed to stand up for myself, learn to say no. No is a complete sentence. No. Nothing more. Just no. I met my own gaze in the mirror.

"Just say no," I muttered. "It's not that hard."

I scoffed. Not even my reflection believed me.

Mom's blue Fiat awaited outside when I arrived home. Leaving my smelly bag in my locker, trying to buy time to clear up the situation. As I entered, Mom was unpacking boxes in the living room, the overpowering scent assaulting me. I would never get used to it.

"Hi sweetie," Mom greeted, smiling. "Can you help me with this?" She opened a bog and picked up a smaller box, labeled cinnamon, and by the sounds of it, it was another load of essential oils. "Did you sell it all?" I shook my head, her smile fading. "Why?"

"Because… it's against school rules," I lied.

"You could ask people after school," Mom suggested. "Or before school. There are a million opportunities."

I sighed. "People at school won't buy oils for fifteen dollars each. It's not their thing. They're kids. They're not into oils."

"Then tell them how much it can improve their lives. Like the citrus mix helps with focus and brain function," she insisted. "And if they don't like the oils, you can always go with incense or candles. We will be getting incense holders in a couple of days. They're beautiful! Any girl would love to have them." She rummaged through a box. "And the teachers, wow, I can't even imagine all the good it could do in the teachers' lounge. They could need some relaxing scents."

I groaned. "Mom, I don't-"

"Shush!" she interrupted. "Don't you want to help people? This is the answer to everything, Maya."

Choosing not to argue, I asked, "Can I go and do my homework?"

"Yes. But where is your bag? The oils? So you did sell it all? Where's the money?" The words tumbled out of her mouth at lightning speed. As if she couldn't let one word out until the next five were on their way. If she wasn't my mother, I would have been afraid of the urgency in her voice.

"I… um…" I hesitated. Admit or hide?

"So you did sell them? Good!"

"N-no," I corrected. Her face fell.

"What? Then where are they? I need them if you haven't sold them so you can bring some other scents if people don't like these."

"I-I forgot my bag in my locker."

"Okay, but then you should bring me the oils or money tomorrow. You can't come home empty-handed again." She gave me a stern look. "Remember, this is important. I need to reach the next rank in two weeks if I want to go to their next event."

Again, I knew better than to say anything. I walked away, to my room. Two hundred bucks or the oils. Too bad I had neither.

I contemplated robbery, but my small stature made me as threatening as a puppy. I couldn't intimidate someone into giving me money; I had to be sneakier. Pickpocketing. I had watched a few YouTube videos on how to do it, and I found myself sinking into deep water. Looking up how to become a petty criminal. How had I stooped so low? I didn't even recognize myself anymore.

In the cafeteria line, everyone used prepaid school cards. Cash was rare. Frowning, I scanned the room. Credit cards dominated the scene, except for the stoner kids by the window. Perhaps they carried cash. The challenge was getting close without raising suspicion. What if they only had a few bucks? Who the hell bought drugs any other way? Venmo? Wouldn't think so. The problem was, however, how I would even get close to their cash, and what if they only carried five bucks? I paid for my food, and went to sit at an empty table, as my gaze continued to move from one group to another. Nope, not them either. Then the next. Nope. And then…

My eyes locked with Ben Morrison, the guy I'd accidentally pissed off on my first day at Highstone, and who had hated my guts ever since. All because I had walked into him at the local coffee shop, making him spill hot coffee on his fancy shoes. When he spotted me at school the next day, he had 'accidentally' spilled a soda in my lap in the cafeteria in front of everybody.

And with that, our relationship had been settled. He hated me, I hated him, done deal.

His dark hair was pushed back, as always, and matched with a petulant look of annoyance. Did he even know how to smile? Probably not. His face would break in half. What a pity.

With a cocked eyebrow, Ben held my gaze, unblinking. I challenged him silently, but he didn't waver. In frustration, I abandoned my search, having barely touched my food.

I could smell my locker before turning the corner, and my bag reeked up the entire hallway, prompting complaints from passersby. My bag had to go, so I pushed it deep into the nearest trash can. Too bad, I really liked that bag. Heading toward the library, I paused at the school administration. Ms. Lucas, the secretary, sat behind her desk, typing away. My eyes fixated on her Coach handbag. Perhaps she had cash—or I could pawn her bag. She noticed me, offering a friendly wave. I forced a smile and waved back. With gritted teeth, I continued walking. I couldn't steal from a sweet middle-aged lady.

"What's the crow doing today? You're acting… strange. Even for you." I stopped and turned around. Ben Morrison stood before me, looking annoyingly amused, but with no smile in sight. His face was unreadable.

"Leave me alone," I retorted.

"Sure, if you tell me why you are watching people as if you're wondering if they're tasty," he said, shrugging. "Or are you looking for something shiny?"

"What I do is none of your business," I replied.

"Sure, sure, but you know. I'm bored."

"Continue being bored then. I can't help you."

As I walked away, Ben called after me, "You smell like lemon zest."

My face warmed with humiliation and anger. I wanted to shout something equally as insulting back but found myself at a loss for words. My mind blank. As if I needed more shit to carry. When I eventually come up with a good comeback, it would be to late. The worst thing, though, was that Ben had won this round. Like he won every damn round. I gritted my teeth. One of these days, I'd bite back with such force that he would be done forever.

My foot bounced up and down, and I couldn't keep my pen still in my hand. I tried reading the page again, but the letters simply melted together into nothing. All I could think about was the money. If my mom had been any other mom, then she wouldn't make a big deal out of what happened, and she wouldn't blame me. Hell, if she had been any other mom, she wouldn't force me to bring her crap to school and try to sell it. There were probably school rules about selling stuff – but mom didn't care. She was in this to win it - wanting to hit another rank. Whatever that meant. Everything sounded so complicated. Too complicated to be about just selling oils. There had to be something more to it, why else was Mom so hysterical. All I knew was that I needed to play her game, or else we'd be moving again.

Mom and I had started moving around after Dad left following a final fight with Mom. He vanished without a trace, and I hadn't heard from him since. We hopped from place to place, trying to settle but never staying for long. Initially, Mom attempted various jobs—postal worker, cashier, waitress, even a hotel cleaning lady—but she couldn't keep a job for long, which in turn made us leave for the next town. And then the next. Then the next.

Then came Highstone, where Mom found employment at SaveTown, the town's largest grocery store. The pay wasn't great, but it was stable. It was at SaveTown that a Lumenoil representative approached Mom with an opportunity she couldn't refuse—a supposed once-in-a-lifetime chance.

Mom was immediately hooked by the promise of quick, substantial earnings. I was torn between considering Lumenoil a blessing or a curse, with their overpriced essential oils, incense, and personal development programs like retreats and group sessions. Mom's primary role seemed to involve pushing these shitty products onto others, even coercing her daughter into the act. She remained oblivious to the fact that I wasn't a natural-born salesperson and despised peddling their crap. Despite knowing I had no friends and lacked social skills, she insisted on forcing me to sell this stuff. If only she would listen and recognize that I was an outcast.

Highstone High, a typical high school with its football team as the pride and cheerleaders as ardent fans. While social circles intermingled, no one befriended me. I had made a poor first impression, discouraging even Bethany Lake from the debate team, who tried befriending me in the first week. My gloomy demeanor and lack of responsiveness deterred her. Somehow, I earned a reputation as an angsty brat who thought herself superior to everyone. At the time, it didn't matter since I anticipated moving again. Fed up with the constant relocations, I had adopted an attitude. But when Mom secured a job at the grocery store, seemingly stabilizing our lives, I had already tarnished my reputation. I lacked the social skills to make friends. I didn't know how to make friends anymore. It was so easy when you were a kid - "Do you want to go on the swings?" "Sure!" "Do you want to hold my balloon?" "You bet!". I had sabotaged my chances while Mom's escalating obsession made her lose sight of being a good mother. I wondered where it would all lead, if anywhere.

So far, it felt like a curse, but I pondered if staying long enough could turn it into a blessing.