Thesis Highlight- Moonflower

Ella Smith

Senior Thesis Highlight—Moonflower

         Ipomoea alba, sometimes called the tropical white morning-glory or moonflower or moon vine, is a species of night-blooming morning glory, native to tropical and subtropical regions. A gentle flower able to withstand difficult living conditions, symbolizing the mortality of life, and restricted to unrequited love. In Chinese folklore, it’s said that this flower indicates that lovers can only meet one special day a year. In Victorian literature and the language of flowers, the flower symbolizes a love that never ended.


Two kingdoms torn apart, a friendship lost. A new beginning, a budding romance.


         So, fun fact, when I first announced to my friends that I was going to Carver Center for high school, they all laughed and called it “the gay school.” I have found this to be true, actually, but still. Imagine my surprise upon hearing, during my senior thesis pitch with Ms. Mlinek, that there had never been a woman-loving-woman story published. Wow. My jaw dropped, and now I have all the more reason to pursue this project.

         Seeing as it’s still a heavy work in progress, I can’t give you any reviews or anything, but the reason I’m starting this series is to get the school excited for what I consider one of Carver Center’s most impressive feats—the literary students’ senior theses. In case you weren’t aware, we write and publish a whole book. This can be a novel, memoir, poetry collection—anything, basically. But this isn’t a literary pitch, this is an advertising pitch!

         In case this wasn’t clear, this is my (the author, Ella Smith’s) thesis. To give you a synopsis, I’ve created a fantasy world comprised of two kingdoms, and when my two protagonists, Safya and Ariadne are young, a horrible misunderstanding happens and they’re forced apart.

         Fast forward to a few years later, and the two girls are nearly adults. Safya is being sent over to Ariadne’s kingdom for a new coalition, but along the way (this is really shocking, hold on to your socks) they fall in love! I write it between the two princesses POVs, switching every other chapter from Ariadne’s to Safya’s. I wanted to make it clear they were both the main characters, and that the story revolves around the two of them equally. All in all, this is everything I wish I could have read at some point, so I really just want to give that sweet YA royal romance– but with two princesses!

         Get excited because Moonflower will be published and available for purchase by spring of 2022! Read further for an exclusive preview of Moonflower.

Excerpt from Chapter 13


“I’m sorry, we never did get that dance,” she sighed, still not taking her head off my shoulder.

         “Hey, its not too late,” I leaned my head against hers.

         “The orchestra is packing up,” she said miserably.


         She sat up, and I almost frowned at the missing weight from my shoulder.

         “What do you mean?”

         I had a wild idea, and grabbed her hand as I rose to my feet.

         “Come with me.”

         We snuck out of the ball, far easier than it seemed. My eyes pricked with tiredness, but I led her through the gardens and down the stairs I had taken so many times. The staircase down to the sea was narrow, and I had to walk ahead of her, but I didn’t drop her hand. Her grip was grounding, and I forgot my aunt, our kingdoms, our differences as I led her down to my secret cove.

         I dropped her hand only to proudly throw out my arms as I revealed the cove. A breeze floated in from the mouth of the cave and the surf gently hit the white shore.

         Her face was that of questioning, and I laughed, hand already tugging at the laces of my bodice.

         She nearly squealed and covered her eyes.

         “What are you doing?!”

         “Getting in the water—relax, I’m wearing my underthings.” Bold move, Ariadne. Bold, or foolish.

         She uncovered her face and blinked. My undergarments were modest enough.

         “Come on in,” I called, beckoning with my arms. Suddenly I felt like a siren.

         “I thought you wanted to dance.”

         “Trust me!”

         She tugged off her jacket and joined me shortly after.


Excerpt from Chapter 14

The work in progress cover, credits to canva for the graphic.


         The water was not as cold as I had expected, but my skin still prickled. The weight of the sea on my clothes was oddly grounding. Ariadne took my hands in hers and walked backwards, deeper into the little lagoon.

         “Can you swim?”

         I nodded. Barely, but I could.

         She raised one of my hands to her lips. The water was at her chest, and the bottom of my ribs and I breathed heavily.

         “Are we—is this where you wanted to dance?” I asked hesitantly. She nodded, dropping one of my hands and lacing the other together. Her free hand she placed on my shoulder, and I instinctively placed mine on the curve of her waist, and shuddered. Whether from the cold of the water or nor, I wasn’t sure.

         We twirled.

         “You’re in Laudlyn. What better way to connect to my kingdom than to spend an evening in the sea, the kingdom of the moon?”

         I knew she was not an overly pious woman.

         The cave had a wide mouth, and moonlight poured in. It was a clear night, the reflection of the heavenly body painting the dark water in a silver glow. In the cool grey light Ariadne was smiling, and I was smiling back.

         Instinctively, following the steps in my head, I dipped her, the back of her head dipping into the water, her short red hair flaring our around her face like rays of light in the silver moon. Her eyes were wide from the shock of being almost entirely submerged—my face flushed. I hadn’t thought that move through.

         Instead of apologizing, I stood frozen. Her pink lips were parted, her arms had ended up around my neck. I became acutely aware of the weight of her leg between mine, and though it was an innocent enough dancing position, something in me twinged, sitting at the bottom of my abdomen, and I swallowed.

         Ariadne laughed softly at my stiff position.

         “Enjoying the view?” She teased.

         Yes, I wanted to say. Wanted to scream.

         Instead of teasing my further, she cocked her head, creating silver ripples with her hair.

         “What’s on your mind?” Concern edged into her voice—she’d misinterpreted my reaction.

         I shook my head, stray pieces of dark hair framing her face, creating a curtain between us and the world.

         “I’m,” I swallowed. “I’ll be honest, I’m thinking about…” I trailed off. Me, the princess of Solitos, self proclaimed scholar and literature enthusiast, found myself entirely barren of words.

         So I acted without words.