Sky paused at the front doors of the main entrance to the large building. The building was colored dull-red with "Briar High School" barely viewable due to the chipped, sun-bleached lettering. She took a deep breath and willed herself to open the metal doors and proceed down the crowded hallway toward the main office.

What am I doing?! she thought as she passed by a group of guys who stared at her. Why is Papa making me do this?! Doesn't he remember what happened last time?!

"May I help you?" Shy snapped back to attention as the nasal question rang through her ears.

"Um, yes. My name is Sky Clark. I have an appointment with the principal," she said softly, averting her eyes from the intense stare of the secretary.

"Please be seated. He'll be with you as soon as he can," came the curt response. Sky nodded and did as she was told. She carefully pulled her cloak tight against her as she sat, tugging especially on the hood and the back of the cloak.

One she had calmed down, she gazed around at the tidy office. Portraits of student body officers decorated the walls along with diverse paintings with cliché quotes underneath them. Along the wall where she sat, she gazed in astonishment at the collection of gold trophies, plaques, and medallions for the various sports—basketball, soccer, football, track, tennis...the organizations went on and on. To the side of the display case were portraits of students in jerseys, the "Athletes of the Week." Those names, too, seemed endless. She marveled at the strength of the hollow wall for not buckling under the weight.

"Sky Clark?" a firm, masculine voice startled her back to her surroundings. The principal was a rather tall, young adult. He had dark brown hair, steel blue eyes, and an even, summer tan.

Sky timidly raise her hand and nodded her head.

"Right this way, please."

She inhaled deeply to calm her fluttering heart before she dared to stand up and leave the security of the decorated wall. She kept her eyes to the floor and followed the principal to his small cubicle he called an office.

"Have a seat, Miss Clark," he said as he sat behind his wooden desk in large, black, plastic chair and squeaked loudly as his weight was supported by it. "Now, when is your father expected to join us?"

"He won't be coming," Sky whispered.

"What was that?"

She cleared her throat and spoke a bit louder. "He won't be joining me this morning."

"Very well." He sat back in his chair. Sky winced as the chair screamed at an even higher pitch. "What grade are you in, Miss Clark?" he continued.

"Twelfth, sir."

"Ah, a senior. And how long have you been a home schooling program?"

"Ever since kindergarten, sir."

"Why have you decided to return to the public education system?"

"It is the wish of my father."

"Now, when I spoke with him, Mr. Clark, he said the reason he put you in home school to begin with was an unfortunate offence in your elementary school. Is that correct?"


The principal was thumbing through a thin, manila envelope with her name typed on the front.

"And that teacher's name was . . . ?"

"Mrs. Weis, sir."

"Mrs. Margaret Weis?"

"I'm . . . not sure . . . sir."

"That is what's stated on this school complaint form that your father completed that year."

"Then it must be her."

"Indeed. It also is written that the cause of the offence was the teacher's ignorance of some sort of birth defect?"

Sky lowered her gaze and whispered, "It isn't a defect, sir. It just isn't normal."

"I don't mean to upset you, Sky. I'm just stating what's written."

"Yes, that was the cause of the offence."

"Which is why you always wear the cloak, yes?"

Sky hesitated before saying, "Yes, sir."

"I don't mean to make you uncomfortable, but I need to have you remove your cloak for a moment."

Sky's eyes shot open. "Now?!"

"Yes, if you will."

Sky's heart fell at the news. She already knew the reaction she would receive. Sadly, with her head bowed and eyes at the floor, she slowly untied the knot at the neck of her cloak and drew back the hood. She raised her pointed ears and made them stand upright. She heard the barely audible gasp from the principal and sighed in sorrow. She completed the hideous task by fully removing the body of the cloak from her shoulders, where her elegant tail was revealed.

A few minutes passed before she heard, "Alright, Miss Clark. You may cover up again." He cleared his throat awkwardly and continued speaking. "That you for showing me, Miss Clark. Trust me, it was not in vain."

Sky didn't reply. She just gazed down at the plain carpeted floor. Tears welled up in her eyes and silently dripped down her flushed cheeks. She laid her ears down sadly and repositioned the hood of the cloak.

"Sky," the principal said softly. "Please look at me."

Sky looked up and was surprised to see the dramatic change of his countenance. His eyes had softened and all formalities and tensions had disappeared from his composure. He looked at her with paternal care.

"Sky, there is no cause for you to weep. I admit, I didn't expect to see your . . . differences so developed. But, understand this: I regard you no differently than any other girl in this high school. You will not be treated any differently, whether you choose to wear the cloak or not." He cleared his throat again, resuming the formalities. "Come next Monday, I shall have your class schedule set up. Please come back that morning, say, eight o'clock?"

Sky nodded, smiling timidly. She wiped away the tears, stood, shook his hand, and escorted herself out to the front parking lot. Her father had barely arrived with a look of concern on his face.

"Marie?" he softly asked.

Sky didn't say anything. She just smiled and fell into his protective embrace.

A/N: Sorry it took me so long to update this story. I have so many ideas on this story it's been hard to formulate this chapter. Please submit a review and tell me what you think. Until next update! –Damaged--