It still feels surreal to see my name in a book, the title of my story in a Table of Contents. Feels surreal to know that friends and strangers alike have read my words. Feels surreal that this little exploration of identity and self-othering wrapped up in the tale of a little cryptid girl wanting to play in the weekly pickup game has a spot within an entire collection of stories, that it helps to paint the picture of “joyfully emerging.”
Last week, in a conversation with some dear friends, I realized just how much the cryptid mythology run parallel to my experiences. This idea that a cryptid lives at the periphery of the human world mirrors my feelings as a white-passing mixed race person: I live at the edges of the wider consciousness, but don’t quite fit. I’m not always fully seen, and if I am, there’s a chance that, in those strangers’ eyes, I am something exotic, a racial puzzle to “figure out” before being a person.
Kiku’s story just emerged, kind of like a cryptid. I’m very proud of it and proud of the shift it marked in my writing. Because of how this story grew, I didn’t think too hard about how others might misinterpret things or dismiss my exploration of identity. And now, I can’t imagine writing anything without an eye to those identity questions that have dominated my life, to showing others they aren’t the only ones searching for answers.
I am infinitely grateful to Improbable Press and Atlin for giving my first words a home. Thank you! Thank you!
If you want to meet Kiku, you can purchase Dark Cheer: Volume Blue!
Kaitee Yaeko Tredway is a writer and puppeteer and her story "Slide" appears in Improbable Press' anthology Dark Cheer: Cryptids Emerging (Volume Blue). Kaitee has always lived in New England: in its mountains, cities, and suburbs. She loves big, explosive magics and magics small enough to live inside of walnut shells. She is happiest when tangling herself up in new threads spun from old tales. This post is courtesy of Kaitee's instagram.