We hated the way my heart pounded in my chest, muting the world around us. She wanted to be prepared for an attack and I wasn’t helping by letting my fear control us.
This school was no different than my last if not less... diverse. I wasn’t expecting dirt roads and shoeless hillbillies like my previous classmates had foretold but I searched the crowded cafeteria for a familiar face only to find none.
Instead, I looked for a place to sit while I walked through the quickly moving line. It was breakfast time for East Chester High and already the school was off to a bad start. The food they served was two types of disgusting; tofu bacon, biscuits hard as concrete, and eggs that seemed to run for miles.
After I received my tray of slop, I made my way to an empty table towards the back of the light blue room, trying to ignore the curious stares of my peers. I knew they stared partly because I was a new body they had yet to see roaming their dimly lit halls but also because I’d chosen to go dark for my first day.
The black tutu was drawing too much attention making me wish I’d just worn jeans. I’d noticed the baby blue trim went well with the colored corset I wore under the new black jacket my mother had gotten but now, paired with my black knee-high boots, I felt self-conscious realizing the drastic style difference between Tennessee and California.
I wasn’t Goth even if black was one of my favorite colors, though some did think it was the color of my soul. Which it probably was, I had a past full of moments I wasn’t proud of. But I’d been told not to dwell in the past. This was supposed to be a fresh start.
I was grateful I’d chosen to wear my hair down so my wild locks could shield my face and eyes that I was positive were turning a dull golden with the way my emotions were spiking. They were normally a dark brown, the darkest in my family I’d been told but when my other half felt threatened she felt it necessary to make herself known. Even if all she could do was speak through my eyes. Instead of letting her take over my mind completely, I drew in her strength, just enough to get me through this day.
I walked, head held high, between the tables, aware of the whispers, the stares, and the giggles. With it being the south, I knew they probably weren’t used to people wanting to express themselves in such a dark nature. I hadn’t gained nearly as much attention in Pasadena from the wardrobe my mother let me pick out and it both confused and angered me a bit that these people were so close-minded.
Holding onto my disgruntled sigh, I tried to keep my temper from rising knowing I wouldn’t be able to right myself if I lost control. My mother apparently knew people in this small town and wanted to make a good impression. She couldn’t do that if I was starting trouble.
I reminded myself to breathe. No one had to lose their temper and besides, it was doubtful that anybody would even talk to me. It had taken nearly a week at my old school for someone to notice I was new and not just sitting in on the class.
As I sat at the empty table, I stared blankly out the dark window, debating whether I wanted to leave due to the uncomfortable glares I could feel boring into my back. Leave this town, not just this crowded room. However, the phrase safety in numbers rang in my mind. It’s what my mother had told me when she probably saw the fear in my eyes before she dropped me off. It wasn’t the first time she’d said it. Whenever I got the slightest fleeing glimmer, she reminded me that I was safe with her, but at the moment I didn’t feel comfortable.
It’d been her idea to eat at the school since we’d been in a rush this morning for her to get to her new job nearly a city away. She hadn’t had time to fix breakfast and I didn’t dare to make anything myself for fear she’d snap at me. Deep down, I knew she’d probably encourage it because she’d been trying to fatten me up since the first day she brought me home, but I was never certain.
She wanted to make sure I ate breakfast so I’d have the strength to concentrate on my school work and I knew I needed it if I was going to translate English on my own. Back home I’d had multicultural friends who helped with my Tagalog to English needs but I doubted anyone here would be able to help me with the difficult language that had taken me most of my life to learn.
Shaking my head, I looked down at the bacon on my tray, possibly the only edible thing on there. I broke a piece off and plopped it into my mouth only to be surprised by the appealing taste.
“Hey you,” a guy said, louder than he needed to since he was sitting right behind me.
Once I’d sat down, the cafeteria had continued with its monotone chatter, possibly due to the fact everyone was still half asleep. He didn’t have to shout over anyone, so I knew his reason for doing so was just to aggravate or humiliate me.
I didn’t say anything; just finished the last of my bacon.
“Goth girl,” some girl snapped. This time the cafeteria grew quiet and I wondered what was so special about this one girl. Understandably, I was new so silence when I entered was a bit expected but now?
I sighed, hating when people called me that. I had a name, but did anyone ever use it? No. They called me-
“Gothic chick,” the first guy tapped my shoulder and I had to restrain my other half from ripping his throat out.
Crap. And here we go.
I cleared my throat and when I turned to see which one of these southerners wanted my attention he flinched at the sight of my gaze then moved his chair away a few inches.
Yeah, I normally had that effect on people. My dark brown eyes, sometimes so dark they looked black pierced people with such a coldness they almost got a glimpse of my troubled past. By his reaction, he either saw hints of my father or I hadn’t done a great job at hiding my inner wolf. She was becoming peeved with their immaturity.
“Yes.” My tone was ice and I hoped my stare matched so they knew who not to interact with.
“You’re fresh meat, huh?” The original girl asked from behind the boy. She had a soprano voice, skin the color of the inside of a chestnut, and russet brown hair braided back into a bun that looked like it was three weeks overdue to be taken down. In my opinion, she looked a hot mess but I’d been told not to judge humans by their appearances.
“Yes, I am a new student, if that is what you meant by ’fresh meat,’” I said slowly, trying to shield my foreign accent and failing. I knew I sounded more like a robot than a U.S citizen, but I didn’t want to give them anything else to talk about. If I let this one thing get to me I wouldn’t be able to control myself. My short temper had gotten better over the years, but the move had us on edge and I could feel her itching for a fight.
“Yeah, uh-huh, and what the hell are you supposed to be?” She asked, scrunching her face in a rather unpleasant manner.
Breathe, relax, I reminded her when she snarled from within. “I don’t know what you mean,” I said as politely as possible, well, as politely as possible for me. I could have broken her trachea with her tone but I was learning control.
“You know exactly what I mean. It ￼ain’t￼ Halloween no more; you can take off that costume now.” A few people in the cafeteria laughed at her comment, which I couldn’t understand. I thought the clothes were pretty which was why I’d asked for them.
“Well, apparently you didn’t get the memo either because you’re still wearing your mask.” The remark rolled off my tongue with ease before I could contain my wolf. I had been doing so well for the past few days, too, bottling her up when things became too difficult. I figured it was too late now, so I let her finish. “Oh, my bad, that’s your face, isn’t it. Oh, and tell me, because I really want to know. Did your parents have a sick sense of humor or were they trying to make the ugliest child in the U.S.?”
The girl stared, mouth agape, eyes wide with shock. The cafeteria’s laughter stopped as they awaited her reaction.
We could tell we weren’t going to like this girl. She was the bully, picking a fight with someone she knew nothing about just to make herself feel powerful. But not today, she picked a fight with the wrong wolf because I wasn’t just going to kiss her ass and take the crap she dished out.
The twisted look on her face showed she wasn’t used to that. She wasn’t used to someone standing up to her.
Well, she should start getting used to it.
Finally, after she had time to think of a clever comeback she said, “Get this bitch,” Oh hell no, my wolf snarled. “You’re gonna get right or get the shit beat out of you.”
I laughed at my options.
“Okay, so wait,” I chuckled and placed a hand over my heart dramatically. “You expect me to kiss the ground you walk on like the rest of these mindless idiots? Are you cereal? Oh my God, you’re delusional.”
The group sitting with her looked confused and I knew I’d said something wrong. I realized they didn’t use ‘cereal’ here and apparently, they had no clue what delusional meant or they’d be all over me.
God, of all the schools my mother could have sent me to it, had to be this one.
“Cereal,” I explained, “means ser-i-ous. Delusional means misleading, or for those of you who are possibly sporting weeded out minds right now, ‘straight trippin’.” When they still didn’t say anything I said, “Stupid, you moronic hicks, I just called you all stupid.” Okay so my friends in California were right; they were a bunch of idiots here.
“Ugh, just kick her ass, Nikita,” a blonde haired, darker-skinned girl grunted.
Hmm, Nikita. I would have to remember that for later.
Nikita stood up, her chair screeching across the linoleum, and stalked toward me.
I scolded my wolf for picking a fight before first period but she wasn’t listening to me, rather to the footsteps of our opponent. She was six feet, at least, and with her loud stomping, weighing in at maybe 104 kilos.
She came halfway before I stood and turned my back to her so I could casually grip the back of the chair I had been sitting on. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply, hoping my eyes wouldn’t shift with the small amount of courage pulled from my wolf.
I opened my eyes, trying my best to keep her from taking over completely, and my gaze locked on a pair of dark blue ones. They looked apologetic, almost sorry for what was about to happen. I smirked, faltering for only half a second, then brought my eyes from whoever had caught my attention and back to what I was about to do.
“Girls!” A man called from the entrance of the room. A teacher, finally. “Is there a problem?”
“Nope,” Nikita said. “Just showing our new student...”
“Aurora,” I supplied, letting go of the chair and turning around.
“Just giving Aurora the 411 on what goes on in this school. You know, giving her a warm welcome.” Closing the distance between us, she slid her right arm under my left and patted my hand.
“And I thank you-oh-so much for that,” I said, heavy on the sarcasm.
He looked between us, finally resting on the girl’s fake smile.
“Carry on then.” He nodded, either completely oblivious to what was going on or possibly just didn’t care.
Nikita and I walked out of the cafeteria, leaving our trays for someone else to discard. Once we were out of the teacher’s’ sight, we pushed away from each other.
“Filthy nerd,” she snapped.
“Ungrateful wench,” I sneered.
“If you think this is over, you’re dead wrong.”
“Yeah, yeah,” I scoffed walking off to my first class conveniently located in the same bricked building according to my map. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
The venom in her tone didn’t bother me as much as she probably hoped it would have. There were far worse things out there than this young girl on a power trip. My family and I were proof of that.