Prologue: "I've got a Secret..."

My eyes drifted open and I let out a sigh when I saw the time on my alarm clock: it was almost time for school. I closed my eyes again and prayed to God that time would slow down so I wouldn't have to go. The weekend was over and classes were going to start whether I wanted them to or not... but I couldn't stop hoping that I'd be able to get out of another week of pointless bullying.

Unfortunately, my prayer was in vain: the alarm clock went off only a few seconds later, and I slowly sat up in bed.

After letting out a small yawn, I brushed my snow-white hair out of my eyes and switched the button to turn off my electric clock. Then I got out of bed, enjoying the cold sensation of my long hair sliding over my bare shoulders like liquid satin: I had always been proud of my hair because it was the one thing on me that was completely beautiful. However, other people didn't see it that way.

My appearance drew a lot of unwanted attention to me.

Don't get me wrong: it isn't as though being bullied by people bothers me all that much. I mean, I can take being shoved into the lockers by a jerk who has too big of an ego; I can take being punched in the face by a girl who doesn't even know me thanks to a stupid rumor. I can take being harassed by perverts at school and being mocked by the teachers in the few classes I actually participate in. I learned a long time ago that an unusual appearance will draw the attention of everyone around you, regardless of how much you try to hide in the shadows: envy is the cause of the harassment and the flirtations I deal with in day-to-day life.

I honestly think it's kind of funny, even though I never say so: every single biting word and every single act of torment they use to get even with me is the result of sheer stupidity. After all, I didn't exactly have a say in how I was born. None of them know who I really am, and deep down, I know they probably never will: I'll either be just another nameless punching bag or a trophy to be draped over someone's shoulder. In the end, I'm not identified by who I am as a person... I'm identified by the way I look.

And I could care less.

However... there is a part of me that is afraid of what might happen if someone gets too close. That part of me is also terrified that people will notice something is very… different about me. At least, different when compared to the rest of society. Ever since my family moved to this city, I've hated my new school because it makes that small, distant part of my soul burn with a deep, ingrained fear: it makes me feel paranoid that someone will discover my secret. Even on a good day, I can never change my clothes in a public area, I can't swim in a pool or the ocean, and I'm constantly looking over my shoulder to see if my back looks bulky.

My name is Serenity Frost Primrose... and I am a freak.

I'm guessing you're probably thinking my name is weird, aren't you?

Or maybe even a tad bit 'Mary Sue-ish'?

Well, let me just say this: if you feel that way, be happy you're not stuck with it. I, for one, am proud of my name because it's unique, and I could care less if other people say it's weirder than my appearance. It's not like I was able to choose my own name, or even the way I look for that matter; I am the way I am, end of story.

I moved to Chicago only last month, but I was born in the northernmost part of Alaska. I don't remember my father all that much because he died when I was three years old, but I have a mom who doesn't exactly know how to act around me. I'm always quiet around her these days, and sometimes I hear her talking with my step-father about where she went wrong with me. You see, compared to when I was a little girl, I've pretty much become a mute around my family due to some seriously twisted situations.

My mother knows nothing about my step-father's actions: to her, he is the perfect man.

To me, he is a monster... and I honestly wish he would die.

That's how much I hate him.

School is pretty much the same story: I never talk, I never try to socialize, and I ignore the majority of my classmates. I'm a proud, independent fifteen year old girl, but I'm also really tiny and that gives people an advantage over me. If you don't understand what I mean and you need a clearer image, then I'll put it like this: picture a small, extremely skinny girl with white hair, white eyelashes, and burning yellow eyes and you'll have an idea of what I look like. If you want a technical description, I'm four feet and eight inches tall, I weigh virtually nothing compared to other girls, and several guys in my class have already made it a hobby to pick me up and throw me like a football. If you still don't have an idea, tough luck: I tried my best.

In the end, regardless of what I've told you about myself, I'm still a freak. I used to think of myself as a normal girl—and maybe I was before the events of two years ago… but now, I'm fairly certain that my life is anything but average. What happened to me back then completely marked me as a monster, and I'm still coping with the shock of finding out that my entire life was a lie.

Those moments were the most painful I've ever experienced... and I'll never forget how it happened.

You see, two years ago, I was actually a lot more social than I am right now: I had three of the greatest friends you could ever hope to imagine. The four of us were stuck together with a bond that ran extremely deep, so it wasn't any surprise that they noticed it when I started having problems with my back. Before my grip on reality collapsed, I was pretty much the baby sister in our happy little group because of how frail I seemed: I was always getting fevers back then, and at times I was bedridden for several days.

Angela... Jessica... and Bethany.

Those three girls were the older sisters I'd never had: they had been there for me since I was two years old.

However, on the night that my life changed forever, all three of them were there. If you're thinking that they did something terrible after finding out my dark and dreary secret, you're absolutely wrong: it only made them more protective of me. That night, they had picked me up to come stay for a few days since my Mom was leaving on a business trip and they knew what my step-dad was like.

I had been having back pains for several days, but I'd only thought I'd been sleeping on my shoulders wrong until the fever hit me.

One minute my friends and I were having a fun-filled pillow fight, the next I was on the ground and barely able to move: they began asking questions about my back when I told them it was hurting, and when the oldest girl, Jessica, removed my shirt... I remember seeing her face turn bone white. All three of my friends began to panic because something was swelling up beneath my skin. There were two huge bulges beneath my shoulder blades, and my skin had stretched to the point where I'd started bleeding beneath it.

My friends tended to me for several hours, but the bulges began turning purple and continued to grow. It was around the time that Angela and Jessica began arguing about what to do that the skin on the left protrusion split open; I remember feeling rivulets blood streaming from the tear in my skin and dripping down my sides. The pain was so bad that I even started crying; I wanted to scream, but I couldn't since I wasn't able to draw in enough air: it was almost as though I'd been winded. Then the other bulge split right down the middle, and blood flew from my back. Bethany flinched when a bit of it hit her on the cheek, but that was all it took to spring my friends into action: Bethany ran downstairs into the kitchen for a rag, Angela filled a bucket with hot water, and Jessica wrapped a sock around her thumb and told me to bite on it. I wasn't able to do anything but obey: I was in too much pain.

Then it felt as though a huge pressure in my back had been released all at once, and I screamed so loudly that I saw spots. A few days after everything had settled down, Jessica told me that it had looked like two huge bones were sliding out of my back. She had explained, in great detail, that the protrusions had continued to slide through the wide tears in my skin; to me, it had simply felt as though my skin had been ripped open by a huge carving knife, and I hadn't exactly known how to handle the agony.

I'd wanted it to end, wanted the ripping sensation to finish and allow me to relax.

I hadn't gotten my wish...

The breath had been knocked out of my body when the protrusions slid outward, and three sets of eyes had widened in horror when they began to see blood-stained feathers and bony joints: two enormous, blood-soaked wings slowly slid out of my back and unfurled right in front of my surrogate family... but when those wings snapped open wide, I felt as though the world around me had suddenly changed. I remember letting out a screech as the ripping sensation intensified... but then I collapsed onto my stomach. Soon, the pain began to fade... and I closed my eyes as a numbing sensation filled me. I don't know how long I was lying on Bethany's bed, but when I tried to open my eyes again, I couldn't do it.

I'd wanted to see what had happened to me... wanted someone to tell me that I would be okay.

What I got instead deepened the bonds between my friends and myself. Jessica and Bethany took care of me while Angela looked up information on how to clean blood-stained bird's wings using her computer: all three of them took care of my injuries, cleaned my wings with bristle brushes and soapy water, and pampered me the entire week I stayed with them. Bethany even came up with an ingenious invention to keep my wings pinned down in order to hide them from society: a simple harness made out of belts for pants.

It was easy for her to teach me how to make it.

Even after discovering I was a freak of nature, my friends still accepted me: even with my wings, they couldn't see me as anything but their beautiful little sister. We were the Four Flowers of Northern Alaska: Jessica's nickname was Rose, because she had auburn hair and lime green eyes; Bethany's nickname was Violet because her hair was black and she had a pretty big thing for the color purple; Angela's nickname was Daisy, because she had long blonde hair, big blue eyes, and a ridiculous fascination for Daisy Duke shorts; and my nickname was Primrose, the Frozen Flower... because my skin is white, my hair is white, and even my eyelashes are white.

The only thing about me that isn't white are my eyes, which isn't exactly a great comfort.

You see, I was graced with irises that burn like hellfire.

That little piece of my history is why there will always be a part of me that fears being discovered. If you don't understand why I would be scared of what might happen, then try to imagine yourself in my shoes for a second. Can you picture an abnormally small, odd-looking misfit of a girl who just wants to be normal? Can you picture yourself having wings and feeling the terror of not knowing what might happen to you if someone ever found out that you were an abomination who shouldn't even exist?

If you can picture that, you'll have a clean-cut image on what my life is like: a living nightmare.

I once had dreams of going to college someday. Dreams of having a happy, successful future where people would admire me. That's never going to happen, because I can't fully be myself when I'm not even part of your world. Even though I walk with you under the light of the sun, my heart hides under the moon and stars... in the shadows, where nobody can see it. I can't have a normal life because Man destroys what he fears, and what what he fears is generally what he doesn't understand.

Can you understand how trapped that makes me feel…?

I am a slave to my own existence, and all I'm really doing is pretending in order to survive. I'm pretending to be a regular high school girl who goes to a regular private academy when, in reality, there is nothing regular about me. If I had a choice, I'd rather live in my dreams than this hellhole humans call reality: life isn't fun and games for me... it's hard, cold, and uncaring. If you laugh at any time when you read this diary, you're an idiot: my mind isn't normally like some book you can just open up and read whenever you want.

I've learned not to trust anybody but myself, but I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt because you seem okay.

So, tell me the truth already... do you think you can keep a secret like mine?

Because I really have to get to school, and getting ready isn't exactly easy when you have hair that hangs below your butt.