"Class. Eh-hm." Mr. Grady frowned at the rowdy class and pushed his slipping glasses back up his nose. "Class, I'd—Listen up!" he shouted over the multiple voices. Everyone quickly stopped talking. "That's better. I'd like to introduce you to a new student. Everyone, this is Camille Taylor."
"Cammie, actually." She interrupted. The girl had long, wavy blonde hair that fell a couple inches past her shoulders.
"Okay, where are you from Cammie?" Mr. Grady asked. Cammie smiled at the class and all the boys basically fell off their chairs. She was wearing a white tank top with coral shorts and converse. She might have looked like another Barbie wannabe had it not been for the converse—which I definitely approved of. Her skin was slightly tan, which wasn't unusual for the coast of California, but she was new, so she couldn't have been here long enough to get the color here. I wondered where she had moved from.
"I've lived pretty much everywhere, but most recently Greece." Greece? I was definitely impressed. She had a slight accent, even though I couldn't tell what it was. I thought it sounded British but it wasn't like I was an expert on accents.
"Very nice, thank you, Cammie. You can take a seat now." Mr. Grady said, gesturing to the rows of desks in front of him. There were only two empty seats in the classroom. One was surrounded by a bunch of lacrosse players who had puddles of drool on their desks, and the other was right next to me. Without hesitating, she made her way down the aisle and slid into the seat on my right. Maybe I would like this girl. As soon as Mr. Grady started his boring lecture on the Native Americans, I took the chance to introduce myself to Cammie.
"Hi, I'm Marina." I whispered leaning slightly across the aisle. She smiled at me.
"Cammie." She whispered. From her tote bag she pulled out a notebook and pen.
"Oh, don't worry about taking notes," I said, "He always emails us his lecture for the period. Just give him your email at the end of class."
"Doesn't he realize that no one will pay attention then?" she laughed. I smiled back at her.
"Yup, but it doesn't bother him. I think he just likes to hear himself talk." We both giggled. "What do you have after this?" I asked.
"Algebra." She said.
"Ew," I wrinkled my nose, "I'm so not a math person."
"Trust me, neither am I." She said, shaking her head. We laughed again.
"Girls, pay attention please!" Mr. Grady said in a stern voice. We shut up. I knew that I didn't want to have the whole emailing the notes thing removed from class. We both looked down at the paper in front of us and began mindlessly doodling. I tried drawing a dolphin, but it came out looking more like a slug with floppy arms. I glanced over at Cammie's paper—hers were better than mine, but not by much. She was clearly as much of an artist as I was—and I was at about a Kindergarten level.
"Nice tail." I whispered over to her.
"What?" she exclaimed, frantically looking down at her legs. Her face was panicked.
"Your mermaid drawing." I said and pointed to her paper, looking at her curiously.
"Oh!" she chuckled, ignoring her previous freak-out, "yeah, can you tell that drawing isn't my thing either?"
"Don't worry, I'm worse then you are." I said and showed her my dolphin slug. She laughed. "Hey, would you like to join my friends and I in the courtyard for lunch this afternoon?" I asked.
"Sure!" she said, "thanks!"
"No problem! Just meet me outside the cafeteria at the beginning of the period." I told her.
"Okay!" She smiled at me and I gave her one in return. Then I turned back to my horrible doodles. I wished I could actually draw a dolphin—it was probably my favorite animal in the world. Well, I could never decide between the dolphin and the wolf. But I'm biased. You would be two if those were the only two animals in the world that you could turn into.
Okay, I should probably explain. I come from a family of shapeshifters. Everyone in my family can turn into a specific animal, that is, except for my mom. My dad can turn into a cougar, my older brother, Cole, can turn into a tiger, and my younger sister, Skye, can turn into barn owl. My sister and I are special. According to my dad, we have never had an animal that can fly in our family. I can turn into two animals, which is something that has only been spoken of in the legends of our kind. Neither of the animals I can turn into is unusual though. I can shift into a common gray wolf and a bottlenose dolphin. I can never choose which one I prefer. I love racing through the forest and climbing the cliffs, but I also love swimming and jumping in the sea.
Every day after school Cole, Skye and I shift and explore the nearby forests. It is something that I always look forward to. Even though it is only a wolf that I get to shift into when we go exploring, I still try to find time to go swimming. It's a bit harder because my parents are a bit protective. They don't like the idea of me being out in the ocean alone, but that doesn't really stop me. The only problem with swimming as a dolphin is that I have no one to swim with me, and, honestly, it gets kind of lonely.
At lunch, I waited outside the long line of people trying to get the usual pizza or chicken fingers for Cammie. After a few minutes I saw her enter the loud room with her paper bag lunch in her hand. She scanned the multiple faces for me. I waved at her and relief flooded her face. Weaving her way through the crowds she made her way over.
"Hey! You all set?" I asked.
"Yup!" she said and held up the brown paper bag.
"Alrighty, follow me." I led her out the doors and into the sunny courtyard. "Okay, just to warn you, Tommy can be a little cocky, Grace loves to gossip, and Annie is super shy so don't be offended if she doesn't talk to you." Cammie looked at me with her eyebrows raised. "Don't worry. You'll be fine. They'll love you. Trust me." I smiled at her but I caught a hint of uncertainty in her eyes. I was sure she had nothing to worry about though. I mean, with all the places she's lived, she was probably an expert on how to make friends even if spring was already peeking out from behind the frosted morning dew.
We walked up to my usual table with our lunches. Everyone stopped talking when we approached. "Hey guys!" I said, "This is Cammie. Cammie this is Annie," I pointed my short, blond haired friend on the left and continued around the circular table, "Connor, Grace," I pointed to my long, dark haired Asian friend, "Tommy and Jet. I mean, John."
"Forget my real name already, Mar?" Jet teased.
"Jet?" Cammie asked, slightly raising her eyebrows.
"She never calls him John. Jet's a nickname." Tommy explained.
"More like an inside joke that the rest of us don't get." Grace said, glaring at me a bit. I shrugged my shoulders and slid into the seat next to Jet, shoving him aside slightly. Cammie took the seat between me and Annie. Jet gave me a smile that I returned. He has been my best friend since seventh grade when his family moved here from Colorado. And my friends were right about both things: most of the time I don't call John by his real name and Jet is an inside joke only between the two of us. I created a nickname Jet for him last year when we were in ninth grade. Everyone thinks I call him that because of his jet-black hair, but I really call him Jet because of the color of his fur.