The presence of something warm, fuzzy, and purring sitting on my chest was enough to wake me up. I opened my eyes to find my cat, Mooch, staring at me with his bright green eyes. He jumped down from my chest onto the bed as I slowly sat up. Reaching over, I absently ran a hand down the length of his body.

I had found Mooch about two weeks ago in the woods. Why I was in the woods, is another story entirely. Anyway, I found him and he would not stop following me no matter how I tried to deter him. I had even sacrificed my sandwich to make him go away. He persisted, so I brought him home. Nancy was not too happy about it. Oh, Nancy is my adoptive mother, by the way, but on that in a moment. She was not happy about me bringing home a stray, but after a quick trip to the vet for a clean bill of health and a bath, I was allowed to keep him.

He hadn't left my side in nearly two weeks. My friends joke that he is more of a dog than a cat because he is so loyal. Either way, he is the cutest little ball of caramel colored fuzz and I was quite attached to him already.

Swinging my legs off the side of the bed, I pulled on a pair of discarded sweatpants that I found on the floor. I glanced over at the small calendar on my nightstand. Was it really August 12th already? I groaned loudly as I ran a hand over my face. I was so not ready for this day to come.

Mooch slinked up to me and nuzzled his head against my elbow, purring gently. I mindlessly stroked the soft fur behind his ears as I surveyed the disaster that was my room, to try and think about something a little more pleasant than the day ahead.

My bed was pushed up against a far wall, covered in a periwinkle comforter with matching bed skirt and coordinating pillows; though it was totally disheveled. At the foot of the bed was my desk, under the only window in the room. My ancient laptop sat on top of the desk along with a small blue lamp with beads hanging from the shade. On the opposite wall was a bookcase full of the classical fiction I had read growing up. Next to the bookcase was the door to my closet, which, at the moment was even more chaotic than the rest of the room.

There was a pile of dirty clothes which was growing exponentially. I knew I should probably have done something about that, but I just didn't want to. There were far too many other things to worry about.


"What, mom?"

"Are you up?"

No, I was yelling in my sleep. "Yes."

"Come down, I made breakfast."

I sighed heavily and pushed myself off the bed.

I love my adoptive mother; don't get me wrong about that. She took me in when I was just about four and have been with her ever since. If asked, I couldn't say I knew who my real parents were or if they were still alive somewhere.

It was not something I thought about often. The only thing I did understand was that if they had really wanted me they would have kept me. But now I had Nancy and she is the closest thing to a real mother I was ever going to get.

Overall Nancy was a good person, I mean she has taken care of me for almost fourteen years now, but she has her eccentricities. It is because of her that I have thus learned that eccentric is just a nicer way of saying that someone was completely nuts. Examples of this will be apparent the minute I get downstairs for sure.

I padded over to my closet and hesitantly opened the door, bracing myself just in case something decided it was going to jump out at me. Once the crisis had been adverted, I pulled out an oversized sweatshirt and threw it over my head.

It didn't matter that it was almost mid-August; it was still an icebox in my house.

Sighing again, I looked at my reflection in the mirror that hung on the inside of my closet door. I took in the features of my face, from my high cheekbones and small straight nose. I didn't think that I looked that bad for just rolling out of bed.

I met my eyes in the mirror, the interesting shade of indigo staring back at me. They were so dark that they were almost violet in certain light. This resulted in people always asking if I wore color contacts to get them that way. I had played around with the idea of getting contacts so they could be something normal like brown. But Nancy would not hear of it. She reveled in the fact that I was different.

Different. That was a word that always haunted me. It was just one of those things that you have to learn to accept and persevere through.

"Marcy, hurry up! Your food is getting cold."

"One second."

There was one more step to my morning that I always had to do before I even contemplate the idea of leaving my room.

I quickly moved over to my desk and pulled open the top drawer. Extracting my hair brush and an elastic tie, I went back over to the mirror.

Mooch jumped onto my desk chair and was watching me intently from that perch.

Starting at the bottom, I worked all the tangles out my mass of penny colored hair. I had let it grow out in the last several years so it reached almost mid-back. While, I liked it this length, it was a pain to maintain. I then brushed it all back and secured it at the nape of my neck with the tie.

I looked at my ears for a moment before I gently tugged on some of the hair by my temples, loosening it slightly. I tucked my ears behind the hair, so that they were hardly noticeable.

I was sick of wearing my hair this way, but it was the only way to keep my ears hidden. It is not that they were abnormally large, like Dumbo or anything like that. They were abnormally shaped. The tips of my ears had a point to them, like one of Santa's little helpers. Generally a person had to look pretty hard to notice them, since I did my best to keep them hidden. Either way it still felt like I had a huge sign hanging from my neck.

"Alright, Mooch, it's time for breakfast."

He hopped down from his perch and followed me out the door. I headed down the hallway and then down the stairs. Our house was rather modest in size, but considering there were only two of us living there, it was quite comfortable.

I found Nancy sitting at the kitchen table, newspaper in one hand and coffee in another. There was a dirty dish pushed towards the middle and another with pancakes on it resting in the place where I normally sat.

She seemed so engrossed with whatever she was reading that she didn't notice when I came into the room. Going over to the cabinet, I pulled out a can of cat food, popped the top and dumped the contents into Mooch's bowl. He padded over to it, sniffed it a moment and slowly began to eat. That was another unusual thing about that cat; cat food was something to be tolerated.

My own breakfast was waiting. Sitting down at the table, I started to eat. Even with all of Nancy's persistence, they were sort of cold.

"So, are you excited about today?" She finally asked after lowering her paper. She folded it up and dropped it on the empty chair next to her.

I shrugged indifferently in response as I shoved another forkful of pancakes into my mouth.

"I was getting a lot of good vibes this morning," she continued.

Nancy was a mystic of sorts, like those psychics they have on radio stations. While sometimes I questioned her abilities, and her motives, she was good at what she did and relatively successful in our small town.

Shaking my head, I asked, "Did the cards say anything particularly interesting?"

"Oh yes! Something very unusual. I am still thinking about it, hoping that it would make a little sense."

"I am sure you will figure it out."

I finished the last bite of food and picked up both plates. I put them in the dishwasher and leaned against the sink for a moment. Mooch came over to me again and was circling around my ankles.

"Before I forget, I cleaned your good skirt. It's hanging in the upstairs hall closet. I thought you might want to wear it today."

One thing about Nancy, she always thought of everything.

"Thanks. What time were you thinking of leaving? Jenna is coming over to help me get ready."

She took a quick look at the clock, which hung on the wall. "Between 10:30 and 11. Is that enough time?"

"Plenty," I replied as there was a knock at the front door.

A moment later, Jenna walked into the kitchen with a large duffel bag slung over her shoulder. She was casually dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and her brown hair was braided down the back. Having a good five or six inches on me, I always had to look up at her. Not that she was extremely tall being that I was all of five feet.

She had been my friend for as long as I could remember. She didn't care about my ears and often defended me to people who liked to poke fun at them.

"Morning," she greeted us cheerfully.

"Good morning, Jenna. You seem to be in fine spirits this morning," Nancy commented, smiling.

"The sun is shining, the sky is blue and Marc Hale is going down!"

I laughed at her enthusiasm.

"That just might be wishful thinking. Let's not forget who won last year."

Jenna just waved her hand at me.

"Whatever! That is not the point."

"Then what is the point?"

"The point is you are going to win this year and there is no way around it. You've worked too hard."

Mooch butted his head against my leg, begging for attention. I scooped him up and held him up until we were nose to nose.

"What do you think, Mooch? Do you think I can do it?"

He blinked at me and meowed softly. That was enough of an answer for me.