The bitter, yet calming smell of coffee grounds was known to inspire a lot of work. The Queen’s Brew, the most popular coffee shop on Bright Moon University’s campus, was where you could find students having sweet first dates, reading the bestselling series “The Princesses of Power” (a guilty pleasure for many readers), or Adora, where she sat nearly every day, typing and scratching her thoughts down in her notebook.
Adora only stopped typing to take a sip of her cold brew and recollect her thoughts once in a while. The smooth, bold coffee almost felt like a push forward with every taste. Her roommate, Glimmer, said that black coffee was disgusting and that it was meant to be paired with something sweet.
Adora would never admit it, but she agreed. Black coffee was invented for people with no soul. The secret aftertaste of caramel appeared on her tongue. It was a guilty pleasure, caramel coffee.
She continued to type at a superhuman speed, desperately trying to tie up loose ends in her work and finish it seamlessly. There was a lot at stake for this particular work, she couldn’t afford to leave anything out or miss a beat.
Katrina lay limp in Anna’s arms. Anna was done being angry-- she let go of every single feeling of resentment towards the girl she held and cried.
A beam of light blinded the others on the ship as Anna became one with She-Ra once again. Her form had been present, but the connection solidified for good this time. Light seeped through her body and into Katrina’s: the healing.
Anna had never been able to use She-Ra’s powers to heal before now.
Katrina coughed weakly and opened her eyes to Anna’s waiting, worried face.
Adora stared at those sentences for a while. They felt like they weren’t big enough to encompass all of the work she had done. It felt anticlimactic.
However, her supervisor had told her to put all of the energy into the actual novel, but save the very end for a quiet, simple moment of reflection, and that’s exactly what she did.
Finally, after about three hours in the same seat, Adora saved her work and drafted a message in a new tab.
Hey, Mara. Got that manuscript for you attached here! See you Monday.
Before she closed her laptop, she double-checked that her document was hidden. Her latest story in progress, “Save the Cat,” was in a document named “ENG350,” just in case.
Adora had a secret, and it wasn’t about coffee flavors. “Save the Cat” was actually a published novel. It was the fourth of five installments in the Princesses of Power series. She wrote under the pen name She-Ra. It was the perfect name: it kept her anonymous and was even the main character’s alter ego, an 8-foot tall warrior princess.
No one could ever know that Adora was, in fact, the author of these groundbreaking novels. The characters reflected every single person or event in her life in some way.
Just in time for her to hide her work, Glimmer came bursting through the doors of the coffee shop.
“Adora, thank goodness you’re here. Well, I knew you would be, you always are.”
“Glimmer, what’s up? Is everything okay?” Adora asked, with only a tinge of worry in her voice. Her best friend always had a ton of energy, but she was always cautious with the sudden entrances, especially in public.
“Yes! Everything is PERFECT. In fact, so perfect that I found you because we are going to a party tonight!! Bow just texted me. It’s at one of the honor houses. ”
Adora raised her eyebrow. “A party? It’s a Thursday.”
In response, Glimmer rolled her eyes.
“You know people go out on Thursdays, Adora. Thirsty Thursday? Hello?”
“I know what Thirsty Thursday is.” Adora said flatly. “I’m hip.”
Glimmer crossed her arms over her chest. “Well, if you’re so hip, then come with us to the party. You need to relax more. Let loose for once!”
She’s right, Adora thought to herself. All I’ve done for weeks is work.
Finally, she sighed and shook her head. “Fiiine. I’ll go.”
“YAY!!!” Glimmer cried. “I’ll have you home at 2 AM at the latest, captain.” Glimmer said with a mockingly serious tone.
Adora smiled as she packed her bag to leave with her friend. Just like the caramel, she’d never admit to Glimmer that she was pretty excited for the party.
In addition to being a secret bestselling author, Adora was also a Linguistics major. She loved languages and the forms of words. It felt like magic to her. But it was also hell, being a full-time student and a writer.
A hell she sort of… loved.
Back at their apartment, Adora and Glimmer were greeted by their 2 other roommates.
“Bow, Perfuma, guess who’s coming with us tonight?!”
They gasped. “You got ADORA to agree to going out on a school night?!” Bow said in disbelief.
Glimmer nodded proudly. “Mhm! She’s even letting me do her makeup.”
Adora’s eyes widened. “I did not say that.”
Perfuma grabbed her arm. “Oh, but we’re going to make you look hotter than ever. Trust me.” she beamed.
At 10 that night, the four friends were at the front door of the Computer Science house, which ten CS majors called home.
The main street of Bright Moon U’s campus was lined with dated houses, each with a specific group of students living in each one: Music, Physics, Spanish, and more. As dorky as it sounded, this also happened to be the home of the best party hosts on campus. The four friends were very close with one of the residents, Entrapta.
Adora smoothed her shirt. She was wearing a white button-up shirt with short sleeves, accompanied by baggy jean shorts and Chacos. While the outfit was something she was used to wearing, Perfuma and Glimmer had given her a dark smokey eyeshadow look, something she definitely did not do on the regular. When she saw herself in the mirror, though, she was pretty impressed by how good she looked with makeup on. It gave her a boost of confidence that she needed after the long day of working on her manuscript.
A girl with long, purple pigtails opened the door to greet them.
“Entrapta, hey!” Perfuma said, embracing her in a side hug. They all made their way through the door, greeting friends and strangers. Adora held onto her drink tightly so it didn’t spill over. Glimmer had mixed everyone a cocktail with copious amounts of alcohol in it, and insisted that they all get wasted.
The house was dimly lit: LED strip lights flashing in different colors and a few lamps in the corners. As she danced with Bow, her drink got more and more empty. She was actually… having fun. As long as she didn’t cross paths with a certain person, she’d be good to go for the night.
Perfuma and another very tall girl came bursting down the hallway in a frenzy of drunken laughter. With Perfuma behind the other girl, they could barely see where they were going.
It was probably Scorpia, another friend of theirs. Scorpia and Perfuma had an interesting relationship-- no one could tell if they were just friends or more, but the way they acted together was sweet and wholesome, they’d make a great couple.
To avoid a fumble, Adora backed up to get out of the way and found herself pressed into someone’s chest. A mystery hand grasped her hip, but she wasn’t losing her balance. It felt strange, but familiar.
“Hey, Adora.” the chest murmured.
Adora’s stomach fell to the floor. She swore that the soles of her shoes started to melt into the floorboards. Panic.
“Catra.” that’s all she could utter.
She couldn’t see it, but she knew Catra was giving a deviously cryptic half-smile-- her famous look.
“Looks like you’re having fun, princess.”
Adora turned dark red. Thank God no one could see her face, not even Catra.
“I-- I am. Thanks.” She stammered, surprised that she even wanted to talk to Adora.
“Hey, why don’t you lighten up? It’s dark in here. You’re the light of everyone’s life, after all.” Catra said slyly, addressing the shake in Adora’s voice.
Adora tried to turn around and face her, but just as soon as she had appeared, Catra was gone. She disappeared down the dark hallway, not even looking back.
Adora should have expected that.
Catra and Adora were best friends as kids. The two girls were inseparable from kindergarten until they graduated from high school, and even decided to go to Bright Moon University together.
Then, Adora met Bow and Glimmer during their first semester of college. She thought that making new friends would be good for her and Catra. Maybe they’d have new people to hang out with, maybe it’d be fun.
Catra disagreed. She became possessive, like Adora belonged to her. For years, honestly, they did belong to one another. They clung onto their childhood comfort all the way through high school, never letting anyone into their little world of their own. Having one another masked any pain or sadness they felt outside of one another.
Catra’s comment about being “the light of everyone’s life” was a reference to Glimmer’s Instagram. She had posted a photo to wish Adora a happy birthday the year prior, claiming she had become the light of her life.
Adora had never received such a wholesome compliment, at least not in words.
Catra ignored Adora in public, never dared to look her in the eye, especially if her “new and improved friends” were around (in Catra’s words). People told Adora that Catra had become mean. As much as it looked that way, Adora didn’t know how to call her mean. She didn’t know how to say anything bad about her.
It hurt to be away from her best friend. Adora missed Catra more than she could ever imagine, but there was just never going to be a way to bring her back into her life without giving up something.
They both knew it was unhealthy for those expectations to exist.
It was also unhealthy for her to stand here, in the middle of this party, and flash back to the entire past life of Adora and Catra, and to analyze every moment that she had just experienced with her.
“Adora!” a voice pulled her from the depths of her own head.
Glimmer was standing in front of her. “Finally, I found you. Come on, we need to get to the living room and dance! My favorite song is playing!”
Adora blamed the feeling of dissociation on the alcohol and followed her spunky friend down the hallway where Catra had disappeared. She tried her hardest to let go of that moment and move on.
Bow appeared shortly after, a lifeline for Adora’s slipping thoughts. He grabbed her hands and they danced wildly, giving Adora the release of stress she deserved.
All thoughts of Catra disappeared and there was only Bow and her friends and the buzzing dizziness of her drinks coming and going down her throat.