December 22, 2015
I gripped my pen hard enough to bend it and got an ink blotch on the palm of my hand. Opening my eyes, I tried to discreetly wipe the mess down the side of my jeans. While my peers kept laughing, Mr. Sands motioned us forward, waving his hand as if conducting an orchestra.
I bit down hard on my lip and tried to block the sound. Even though I had a greater purpose than wanting to fit in among the humans or the Supernaturals, being an outcast hurt.
“Romeo and Juliet, if you’ll please come up to the front now?” The teacher tapped a copy of the book against his palm.
I remained seated, watching as Riley, my enemy as much as if we were truly a Capulet and a Montague, made his way to the front. I hated any kind of public speaking. Please don’t let me make a fool of myself. I gave myself a mental kick. Pull it together, Juliet. I stood and moved to the front of the room. I would fake confidence well enough to do this. Everything was under control.
Then I looked into Riley’s eyes.
They were an almost translucent blue, and peering into them made me feel as if the floor shifted. Hostility swam in their depths. Fear and anticipation waltzed together inside of me. I’d heard the rumors about him. He was without a heart. Without a conscience.
When I kept staring, Riley raised a questioning eyebrow. I quickly took another dog-eared copy of the book from the teacher, licked my lips, and read aloud, “Deny thy father and refuse thy name.”
“You haven’t been paying attention,” Mr. Sands snapped and pointed to another portion.
Embarrassed, I searched for the part. Riley stopped my frantic page flipping and trailed his finger down the page. “Here.”
I cleared my throat and started again. “Romeo, doff thy name, and for thy name, which is no part of thee, take all myself.”
A boy in the front row made a rude comment, and Riley glared at him.
When the room was quiet, Riley read, “I take thee at thy word. Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptis’d: Henceforth I never will be Romeo.”
Mr. Sands approached us to show us what part to read next, and when he did, I got a weird feeling about him like I was in danger. Something in the teacher’s eyes reminded me of a Ragespawn’s eyes, an ancient enemy of ours, the Tazavorn species. I dismissed the thought as quickly as it came. That had to be impossible. Ragespawn lived only in our galaxy, not the human one. Surely the human authorities would not have granted asylum on Earth to our most vicious enemy.
A low creak sounded above Mr. Sands’s head, and he quickly turned. The mounted speaker flew from the wall and knocked the teacher’s copy of Romeo and Juliet from his hand, pinning it to the floor in a tangle of wires and a cloud of dust. Most of the dust settled on top of his scrub brush hair while some of it coated the white cement walls.
Silence reigned except for the ticking of the clock.
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