In the Shadows
Mrs. Smith nodded hastily. She told me to take a seat next to Karter, and she started the class by introducing me to everyone like you would in first grade.
"Class, this is our new student, Leanne Casey. Leanne, would you please wave 'hello' to the rest of the class?"
I waved my hand awkwardly to the rest of the class behind me, who looked bored, like Mrs. Smith talked like this all the time. She nodded her approval and started the lesson. I immediately tuned out, and I could feel my eyes start to droop. My head only being kept up by my propped up arm. I could hear Karter beside me snoring silently.
I looked over at him slightly, and I could've sworn I saw a small fire-not bright, but a dim, deep shade of red-erupt out of his nose.
I was startled. I quickly grabbed my blue and silver notebook, and jotted down a sketch and caption. I tended to do that a lot. My history notebook now had three pictures of the pudgy Mr. Boris trying to pick up his pencil when it fell.
All my drawings were fairly accurate, and it took me fifteen minutes to finish sketching the picture. Everything looked like how it did when I saw it. At the bottom of the picture I wrote in my clearest handwriting.
Could he be….like me? Karter Smith is someone to watch.
I felt someone tug on the book, making a nice, long line across the bottom of the page.
"Hey!" I whisper yelled at Karter.
"I just want to see the picture. What's the harm in that?" He smiled innocently. I just glared at his fake innocence, and snapped the book shut, stuffing it in my bag. I looked back up at the board just as Mrs. Smith finished the lesson.
"….just do these problems for tomorrow. You have the rest of the class period to try and finish it."
I looked at the fifteen problems on the board and my head started to spin. The numbers swirled in my head, forming the correct answers. I quickly jotted down on a piece of paper, my answers showing little of my mental work.
It would've been too hard to copy down. My mind works faster than my hands when it comes to writing things down. Ideas strike, but by the time I have a pen and paper in hand it's disappeared. I made the small notes and showed the numbers that were needed to get the answer. My dad always understood my answers because he was the same way. I only hoped it'd be enough for this teacher.
After finishing the last problem, I stood up, grabbed the paper, and gave it to Mrs. Smith.
"I've finished," I said awkwardly. When she looked at me, it made me feel weird. She'd look at me with big eyes filled with amazement and awe ever since I told her my name, making me feel awkward and uncomfortable. I never really knew what to do or say.
Mrs. Smith, eyes wide, nodded fast, and took the paper quickly.
"Thank you. You may sit down again, now."
I nodded and went back to my seat and got my notebook out again. I started to sketch again, capturing the likeliness of Mrs. Smith's big, round, awe struck eyes that-even on page-unnerved me. I shuddered as I continued drawing out the rest of the picture.
You see, if I don't draw something I see or do, it haunts me until I put it on paper. If I didn't draw everything I wouldn't be able to think, I'd most likely go crazy, not that I'm not already.
"Dang, that's good." The sound of his voice made me jump. My pencil slid across the paper, making a fine line cutting through Mrs. Smith's right eye.
"Sorry!" He quickly apologized. I turned a glare at him. Karter sat there looking over my shoulder with a sheepish smile on his face, his left hand now scratching the back of his neck, when the bell rang. I stood and gathered my stuff into my bag. I was about to leave the room when Mrs. Smith called me back.
"Ms. Casey, may I have a word with you?" She asked. I reluctantly nodded and she turned to Karter who was still standing there. "Karter, dear, would you pull up a couple chairs. I think we need to ask Lea-sorry, Shadow, here a few questions."
"Urn, ma'am? This won't take long will it? This is my first day, after all. Don't want to be late or miss any classes, you know?" I asked, stumbling over my words. Why would they need to ask any questions?
"Of course. We just need to ask a few questions, let you ask some questions, and I may need to call your parents."
Call my dad? Did I do something wrong? Was it how fast I finished that math assignment?
I gulped as I sat down in the chair Karter had I pulled up for me. He sat down right next to me, but he was facing me. Studying me. I could feel the sweat start to trickle down the side of my face as he continued staring, taking in every feature, my profile, and the way I carried myself. But no questions were asked.
"You said you needed to ask questions. So, why aren't you asking questions? You're both just staring!" I said, irritated with this waste of time. Only silence followed my outburst. My shoulders slumped as I waited for one of them to ask a question. The silence was deafening to me, I needed someone to talk. My hands itched towards my pocket, where I kept my iPod always with headphones.
I just needed something to cover up this silence, drown it out, to-
"So, where are you from?" Mrs. Smith asked. That's it? That's it?! She just wanted to know where I'm from?! What a waste of time!
I gritted my teeth in frustrated anger. "An island in the middle of the Atlantic. I don't know exactly where, I'm no good with Geography."
Mrs. Smith nodded. "Is this island perhaps called," She leaned over the desk and whispered, "Jezirat al Tennyn?"
My eyes widened in surprise. My hand flashed a deep dark ocean-like blue-green and suddenly a claw-a dragon's claw-was replacing it. The dark blue-green scaled claws with dark midnight blue tips were now at the throat of my teacher.
"How do you know of my home, human?" I demanded. It probably wasn't the smartest thing to do, as I just revealed that I was of dragon origin. Mrs. Smith looked startled but other than that unfazed. Karter's eyes widened and he kept looking back and forth between me and his mother.
Mrs. Smith gingerly tried to remove my claw from her throat. She and Karter shared a look, a silent conversation passing between them.
Karter dashed out the door, my eyes flashed towards him, and in a millisecond I was chasing him down. He ran through the hallway faster than most humans could, and turned the corners sharper. Too late, I realized what he was doing.
He was distracting me, getting me away from his mother who was sure to lure my dad into the school.
I then turned back around and tried to run back to the class room, but Karter had lured me into a part of the school I didn't recognize. I tried to remember which way I'd come in, and which way Karter went out.
"I could show you back to the class room, you know," A voice from behind me stated. I turned to see Karter, leaning leisurely against the wall, arms crossed across his chest. "But you got to promise not to kill me."
I glared at him. "Just point me in the direction I need to go, and maybe you'll live."
He chuckled and pointed to my right where the hallway turned left. To me, this school was a giant maze that you'd never get out of. I glared at him, but nodded in appreciation. I turned on my heel and ran towards the corridor.
I risked a glance toward his direction as I turned the corner, only to find the wall. Karter was gone fast. I narrowed my eyes in confusion, and set my eyes back towards the front of me. Just in time too.
Karter had somehow managed to get in front me and I almost knocked him to the ground. I glared at him.
"How'd you get in front of me? Last I saw, you were on the other side of the hallway!" I yelled. He just stood himself up straight.
"You're not going to find your way back to the class room if you don't let me show you back," He stated, his arms still crossed. When I didn't say anything, he sighed. "You'll be able to keep an eye on me, or something."
I looked at him skeptically. I thought about it, honestly, I did, but it didn't seem like a good idea. He led me away from the class room, how can I trust that he'll get me back to it.
"Promise that you'll lead me to the class room, and nowhere else?" I demanded, glaring at him for emphasis. He just shrugged.
"Sure, follow me."
He started to walk off ahead of me, leading me (hopefully) back to the class room, back through the twist and turns of the school's hallway labyrinths. As soon as I recognized the hallways and could find my way again, I stopped Karter.
"Okay, I recognize this part of the school. I no longer need your services, so go, before I decide to kill you," I growled. I didn't even give him a chance to answer or argue, not even blink, as I stalked off towards the class room.
I started a walk, then broke into a run, wanting to get back to the class room before my dad got there. I saw the oak door that separated me and Mrs. Smith's class room. I reached my hand out towards the gleaming sliver handle, my fingertips gently brushing it.
Quickly, I opened the door, rushing in, glaring at the teacher.
"You sent me on a chase! A wild goose chase! Just to get two dragons in a classroom?! And let me guess, you're with the Hunt, the group of humans bent on destroying my kind!" I yelled as I entered the room. Mrs. Smith only flinched slightly at my raised voice.
"I can assure you, I wouldn't wish the destruction of my kind," Mrs. Smith's voice was soft, quiet, and barely audible.
"Shadow!" A stern voice from the back of the room said. It wasn't Karter's, this voice was too deep, a man's voice. I turned slowly to see my father, standing by an open window, a stony look on his face.
"How dare you talk to a teacher like that! Much less, a friend of your mother's!"
The word 'mother' made me freeze. I was a statue in my place. I couldn't hear, a buzzing noise ringing in my ears. My vision blurred as small memories I could barely remember washed through me.
A laugh came from in front of me. I looked up from my crib to see my dad dancing around the room with Mom in his arms. King Jarred, my father's brother, laughed and clapped along to the music that always filled the house. Queen Melina and her two children danced around in a circle. I stood in my crib, bouncing to the beat.
Laughter and happiness rang through the island kingdom of Dragon's Isle. We were in a state of prosperity, everything was wonderful and cheery. Much advancement had been made in technology and medicine. Everything was wonderful.
Then Mom stopped dancing with Dad and walked over to me. Her long dark hair streaked with red and gold, the colors of her matured scales, and the smell of roses filled the air around me as she picked me up out of my crib and started to gently sway around with me in her arms.
"Don't talk about my mother!" I yelled, tears nearing the surface. "Don't talk about her!"
Dad slowly walked forward, trying to place his hand on my shoulder. "Shadow…"
"No! I want explanations! I want to know something! Anything! I remember bits and pieces of her, like the smell of roses and the red and gold streaks in her hair, but that's it! I can barely hear her laugh anymore! I'M TIRED OF NOT KNOWING ANYMORE!"
Karter stood in the doorway, leaning against the door frame. Mrs. Smith sat in silence with her head held low. My dad….my dad looked shocked, sad, and angry, all the emotions that had jumbled and mixed inside of me spilling through his eyes and mine.
I was tired, and angry, and sad. Worst of all, I was confused. I didn't know what to do, or how to handle it. A warm wetness streaked my face as I swept my hand across my cheek.
"Please…just…give me answers for once! Not a coded riddle!" I begged.
"Shadow, you aren't ready," My dad said, reaching out his hand and placing it on my shoulder. I wacked it away.
"Then when am I ready, huh? When I'm on my death bed, breathing my last breath?!"
"No! I'm ready! Just tell me!"
I froze. Dad rarely used my first name. In fact, he'd only used it once before, when I was little and tried to deny that what we were was real because I couldn't remember it all. So I stood still, as though I was slowly freezing in place.
"Please, listen to me! You are not ready for…certain information yet. But you'll learn soon enough. I promise."
"I need to get to my next class!" I realized. Momentarily un-frozen, I dashed out of the classroom and bolted around looking for room 5A. Shit! That's on the other side of the school! I've already wasted half the class with Mrs. Smith and her antics; I'll just end up wasting the rest of it trying to find the room!
Might as well make it over there, anyway, I thought. My next class is that way, too.
I started jogging again, trying to get over to the other side of the school before the bell let out. Laura will be sure to question why I wasn't in class.
I was too busy caught up in my own thoughts, I didn't notice getting surrounded as the bell rang. A group of guys in muscle shirts, shorts and flip flops grouped around me. One of them swung their arm around my shoulders as another snaked their arm around my waste.
Still steamed from Mrs. Smith's little talk, my eyes were small golden suns at the moment, flashing dangerously, edging closer and closer to turning into full-on dragon mode.
"So, babe, what are you doing tonight? 'Cause my parents are gone this week, and it's just me and my house, so I was thinking that we head over to my place. You know….have a little fun, know what I mean?"
I glared at him, my eyes getting dangerously bright.
"Get lost, freak!"
He stumbled and his arm fell away from my shoulders. The other guy, though, just laughed.
"Feisty, eh? That's just how I like 'em. Fiery and tough. Always make good fun," the strange guy said as he pulled me closer to him. I was seriously annoyed now.
"Want fiery? I'll give you fiery!" I glared as I focused on the heat of his hand. Slowly, the temperature in his hand began to rise until it was burning and bright red.
The guy pulled back his hand and held it. "Hot! Hot! Get me some ice idiot!" He yelled at the poor guy next to him.
I shouldered my bag again and pushed forward through the rest of the group, steam curling off the floors' tiles where I had stepped.
My hand was no longer a claw, but the nails were still the deep ocean blue, and the scales on my hands were faint and barely noticeable.
I searched for room 202A. But unluckily for me, I was directionally challenged. I had to stop a few kids. There was a girl named Jaycee, who was only visiting a cousin and didn't go here, a boy Collin who was about as confused as I was and decided he'd skip class instead of searching for it, and another girl named Meg.
"Oh, sure. The class is only a couple doors down the hall on your left! Bye!" Meg pointed as she made her way down the way I came.
"Thanks!" I called after her.
I nearly ran down the hall, skidding to a stop in front of the classroom, opening the door right as the bell rang.
Again, Karter had somehow managed to get down here before I did, though I hadn't seen him in the hall. He was sitting next to an open window, an empty seat between him and Laura, who was talking to another guy behind her.
"Ah, Miss Casey, it must be hard being the new student, but can't you at least get to class on time?" The teacher, a tall, thin, balding man with thick square glasses said, smacking a ruler into the palm of his hand.
I was breathing heavy, but I managed a nod and made my way over to the last open seat.
I sat my stuff down as Mr. Zeller started class.
"Now, class," he had an accent that I just couldn't place… "This is Mythology class, and we shall be starting off this term with….dragon mythology."
Mr. Zeller smiled wide, eyes gleaming a sickly yellow through his thick glasses. My head snapped up and, momentarily, made eye-contact with the thin teacher in front of the class.
He knew something…about us. About me. About my family. His smile made me want to puke, and his eyes were sharp, distinct, and deadly with knowledge.
"So, in addition, we'll start with a pop quiz to see what you all know!" Was it in this guy's job description to torture me or something? Cause if it is, he's definitely succeeding!
Karter leaned over and whispered, "Miss some of the questions at least, and he'll drop the thought."
"What?" I whispered, turning my head to look at him, my eyebrows scrunching together.
"You're shirt says, 'I am the Dragon'. He's obviously thinking you are. He's been trying to prove dragons exist since he accidently saw my mom heat up her cold coffee."
I huffed, but remained quiet. When the paper landed in front of me I looked at it. I'd never seen such stupid and ridicules questions on dragon lore!
Name: Shadow Casey
Question 1: If a dragon were flying above you, would it be doing…..
a) A night-time flight
b) Terrorizing villagers
Question 2: How hot can a dragon's flame get?
a) As hot as the sun
b) As hot as the dragon wants and they won't be affected
c) As hot as too hot is for their next victim
I stared at the rest, thinking the questions couldn't get any more stupid, and circled the ones I thought were right. It's hard to know what you know when you're being quizzed some of the stupidest questions.
The whole class seemed bored and seemed to finish around the same time, so I just passed my paper up. As soon as Mr. Zeller got all the papers he told us we had the rest of the class free to do whatever while he graded the papers.
Laura immediately turned on me.
"Where were you?" She demanded. "I was waiting outside the classroom till the bell rang and nearly got detention because you didn't show! Dillon had to bail me out because the teacher didn't believe you were real till he said that you were and he saw you in History!"
I shrugged and apologized, "Sorry." I snuck a glance at Karter who raised his eyebrow, clearly amused. "I got lost in the school. I kind of ditched Karter and thought I could find it on my own."
Laura's shoulder's sagged. "Well, don't do it again! Okay? Promise me, Shadow."
"Promise," I mumbled. Apparently that hadn't been enough, because she stuck out her pinky. "What?"
"What's that?" I asked confused. Laura look taken aback.
"You've never had a pinky promise?"
"You were my first friend," I admitted with a shrug and a sheepish grin. Laura blushed ad smiled.
"Oh. Well, when you pinky promise, it's like an oath. You have to do it. And if you don't, I get to cut off your pinky."
I laughed as she took my left hand and grabbed my pinky, wrapping it around her's. "Now you say, 'I pinky promise.'"
Still laughing, I said, "I pinky promise."