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Middle of the Beginning.
I didn't even pause as the last paper wad was hurled lamely in my direction. I rushed though the halls with my arms around my books and tears in my eyes. Calc had not gone well. The humans taunted, teased, threw paper, even pencils. I went to my locker, put the books away and slammed it shut. Then I sat down on the ground and sobbed. Today was not going to go well.
“Why me of all people? Why must they pick on me everyday? Why not Soquoia? Or any other of the Ferals here? Why me?” I asked myself.
“You should very well know the answer to that,” Someone said, I looked up quickly to see a lithe shape sitting on the window-sill, about six feet above the ground.
“Who are you?” I asked,
“I fit into the category of “Any of the other Ferals here”,” The boy said, jumped down and sauntered over to me, “This is one of the few days that I get to come here and get my money's worth of “education”. It's not what I'd call an education necessarily, but it's better then nothing.” he said,
“You didn't answer the question,” I said, looking up at him, he raised an eyebrow.
“What else did you want?”
“Who are you? What's your name? Why haven't I seen you before?” I said,
“My name is Cadfael. You've never seen me because you never seen anyone. You're just like me, invisible and blind. I work on a farm, so during the growing season I get to go to school; during the harvest season I miss it all to work.” Cadfael said, I just stared at him.
“How come they don't mock you?” I asked,
“What makes you think they don't? I'm tormented just as much as you are, but you just don't know it, because you never look to see the others around you,” Cadfael smiled condacendingly,
“Are you telling me to pay attention to those idiots?” I asked,
“Not to the idiots specifically, but to your surroundings. I've been coming to this school as long as you have and you never even knew I was here,” Cadfael said, I liked him and didn't like him. He looked too cool to belong in somewhere like here; the way he walked, talked, and the way his eyes looked. But he was so smug and acted like he was better then me.
“You don't know me either,” I said, Cadfael sat down
“You're Adelah Foachel, you're the daughter of Shafiqa Foachel who's the best doctor in the state, possibly the country. You're also the only one that is passing Straind's class.” He said,
“How do you know that?” I asked, stunned,
“Everyone knows your father, so everyone knows you. You're the richest girl here,” Cadfael said, I just stared at him,
“I'm not the richest, some of the Humans-”
“The Humans have their own definition of the word, we have something else,” Cadfael said, and stood up. “There's a teacher coming this way, so I suggest you grab something and make it look like you're not skipping,”
“Wait, what did you mean by that?” I asked, standing up as he walked away.
“You’ll figure it out sooner or later,” He said, and kept walking,
The teacher walked over to me and I hurried towards the bathroom. He didn’t stop me so I waited until he was gone and came out, thinking I was going to look for that boy again, but the bell rang. I sighed and went back to my locker, my tears had dried and no one in my first block shared my second block too. No one would ever know that I had cried. I picked up my books for Advanced Psychology and half-ran to the class room, not wanting to meet anyone from Calc. I almost slammed my books down, at least this class would be a little more enjoyable. I looked around the classroom, most of the people hadn’t gotten here, and those who had were Ferals. All my classes were on the IB program, and only a select few Humas and House-cats got in, but plenty of Ferals did. I sighed and tried to let go of the frustration.
“Don't you wish that they had schools just for us?” Asked a slightly musical voice, I looked up startled. Cadfael was sitting across from me, arms on the back of his chair.
“Where did you come from?” I asked,
“I've been here the entire time.” Cadfael stood up and flipped his chair around easily.
“Really? I didn't see you,” I said,
“That doesn't surprise me much. If you'd pay attention to something besides the teacher for once in your life, you'd be a lot smarter,” Cadfael sat back down in his chair, folding his arms behind his head,
“I'm plenty smart! I have straight A's f.y.i,” I said,
“And you're book smart, I'll give you that.” Cadfael's face was still fixed in that sardonic smile, “But there's more to intelligence then just that.”
“If you're so smart, what do you know that I don't?”
“I know how to grow all the food that you and millions of other people copiously eat and enjoy, and I know how not to miss the simple things,” Cadfael's eyes looked over to the speaker in the wall as the bell rang for class to start. He turned his chair around again and sat down. He never spoke to me again for the entire class, in fact, he had to leave early. I assistant from the office came and gave the teacher a note and Cadfael was the recipient. I watched him leave and missed the next question and had to ask the teacher to repeat it. I could have sworn I heard him laugh as the door closed.
Psychology went without incident and I packed up my things before the bell rang for lunch. I met Soquoia outside and my mind flew from the confusing topic of the mysterious boy named Cadfael.
“So where are we going for lunch?” Soquoia asked, we both had lunch release so we always went to a fast-food joint, or shared the responsibility of cooking for ourselves.
“It's your kitchen's turn to be made a mess.” I said,
“I had hoped you hadn't remembered that,” She said, I laughed. We got to her house and she let herself in with her key.
“Mom hasn't gone shopping yet this week, so we're running low on food. I'm sure Dad has some venison left in the freezer.” Soquoia said,
“But then we'd have to thaw it,” I said,
“I don't think we have much in the fridge right now,” Soquoia opened the fridge and looked, “Yeah, some antelope from last night,” She said,
“I love your dad, my dad doesn't go hunting every week, we get beef most of the time,” I said, accepting the small package of meet from her.
“Would you like anything to go with that?” She asked,
“Nah, I'm good,” I said,
“Bad day so far at school?” Soquoia asked,
“Just a little, I had Calc today,” I said, Soquoia nodded,
“You always eat less on days you have Calc,” She said,
“It's the only day that I have to deal with humans,” I said,
“Ignore them,” She said,
“I try, but I keep having someone else tell me that I shouldn't,” I said,
“Who in their right mind would tell you that?”
“A guy I met today, he said that we should pay attention to them too,” I said,
“He didn't seem it,”
“He's bonkers,” Soquoia said, I laughed out loud, and went back to eating. We dropped the topic of Cadfael and went back to the school. We split at the front doors,
“See you in fourth!” She called and jogged off to her locker, I went to mine and grabbed my music. This was generally my release period, but the orchestra teacher had asked me to play piano with them.
There were no Ferals in the orchestra. This would be a replay of math if I messed up even once. I sat down at the small electric piano and played as others came in. I tried to make myself aware of them, but when my concentration left my fingers, I would stumble. I frowned and focused again. I stopped playing as the bell rang.
“Good luck Fur-face!” A freshman called,
“If that's the best insult you can come up with, it's a good thing you're in school still.” I thought, turning to watch the teacher.
As we started the song that I played, my fingers slipped over the keys easily and I only had to stop once because the freshmen violins had sped up too much. The teacher stopped them and told them to pack up.
“Peai-aida leixw, Houmein.” I said to the same boy that had tried to insult me earlier.
Oh, I forgot again, you're a human.
“Good luck, Human,” I said to the same boy that had tried to insult me earlier,
“Shut up. It's not our fault you can't play piano,” The boy said and turned to his friend for a high five. I sighed and walked out
“Mr. K? Why can she leave early every day?” One freshman asked,
“Because she's older and better then you, that's why,”
I smiled, I had always loved that teacher. I exited the room and walked down the hallway, still smiling.
“Wipe that grin off your face. They're only House-cats, you can't expect any better,” Said that same teasing voice. I sighed, turning around to face him.
“How many times are you going to show up today? I though you had to leave early today,” I said, stopping in the middle of the hallway
“Grandpa needed help for a few minutes. I helped and came back,” Cadfael shrugged,
“You weren't gone very long,” I said, walking forward again,
“I didn't need to be. I heard what you said, smart comeback, but you could've been a little nicer,” Cadfael followed me,
“Why would I be nice? He's a House-cat,” I said,
“So? He's still a living breathing organism. He deserves some respect,”
“So you're saying that I need to show respect to Humans and House-cats?” I asked,
“I never said Humans,” Cadfael said, I looked at him. He held his hands behind his back, eyes light and playful. He was thoroughly enjoying giving me a headache.
“Then what are you talking about?”
“Haiouce Xeitc, they share a common ancestry with us.” Cadfael said,
“But they share genes and traits with Humans too.” I said, stopping at my locker. Then the bell rang.
“Hm,” Cadfael laughed once. “I guess we'll have to continue this conversation later.” He mused and walked away.
“Hey, wait! We still have five minutes!” I called, Cadfael raised a hand and wagged a finger. I let out a frustrated sigh and opened my locker. History was next, with Smith out in the Portables. I walked outside and my breath caught. It was always winter in Oregon, even in June. I rushed to the group of small buildings, bundled in the shade and opened the door to 616. The wind blew my hair around me as I walked inside.
“Hello Mr. Smith, how are you today?” I asked, walking past the teacher's desk to get to my seat.
“I'm doing okay, how are you?” Mr. Smith was writing the day's schedule on the whiteboard.
“I'm cold at the moment,” I said, sitting down.
“It is quite chilly out there,” Mr. Smith said, writing “Review 15-2” and “Read pages 325-460”. He turned around as he put the pen down and went back to his desk. Mr. Smith is my only Feral teacher, in fact, he's the only Feral teacher in the school. All the Ferals came though his History classes. I pulled out 15-2 and put it on my desk and picked up my sketch book. More and more people trickled in and I watched them all out of the corner of my eye. Soquoia was one of the last ones to come in. She took her seat in front of me.
“Took you long enough to get here,” I said,
“Sorry, I was with Jake,” She said, I snorted and rolled my eyes,
“Oh, yeah, you're boyfriend,” I said,
“Hey, I think he's really sweet.” Soquoia said,
“Can you get him to do his homework?” I asked, she laughed,
“I try. I'm tutoring him in Chem,” She said,
“He told me,”
“Okay, class, let's get started. Who did their homework?” Mr. Smith asked clapping his hands together. Several hands went up. “Good, I'll go around and check it off.” Mr. Smith came by his desk and picked up his clipboard and started with me.
“Very good. Well done. Nice job.” He muttered as he went down the row. “Tsk, tsk. Bringing it tomorrow, Robert?” I opened my book again.
“Hey, I'm talking to you, Adela!” Soquoia said,
“What?” I asked, still reading,
“Put the book down, stupid, this is serious!”
I sighed and put the book down.
“What is it, Soquoia?”
“Who was he? How do you know him?” Soquoia asked, it took me a while to realize what she was talking about.
“You mean the Feral talking to me earlier?” I asked
“Of course! Who else would I be talking about?”
“He's just someone from Psych.” I said, casually.
“Just someone?” Soquoia raised an eyebrow,
“He's a guy who sits in front of me,” I shrugged,
“How well do you know him?”
“Not well, I know his name.” I said,
“Do you like him?” Soquoia's eyes went wide.
“No!” I said too quickly.
“I think you do, you act like it.” She said,
“You've seen him talking to me once,” I said, rolling my eyes,
“I quote, “Wait! We still have five minutes!”” Soquoia said,
“Oh, shut up! I don't like him!” I said, turning around,
“Okay, some of you haven't done the homework . . . I'd like all three of you to please step outside so we can go over it.” Mr. Smith said, the whole class watched as the stood up and walked out. Two of them were House-cats
“Okay, the rest of us will go over the homework. Soquoia what did you get for number one?”
The class ended as it started, with the cold trip back into the school. I picked up my bag and piled all the books I needed for homework in it. I stood up and saw a tall black and orange boy behind me and I turned around. It wasn't Cadfael though, I sighed and shut my locker. It was going to be a long night.