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Undesirables

In those days, school had never been compulsory. Children had had the freedom to come and go as they chose, and while some chose to go to school, some chose to stay home, and some were forced to stay at home. The populace had names for each group: Knowledgeables, Ignorants, and Undesirables. Each one had a specific place on the totem pole of society. Knowledgeables were on the top, followed by Ignorants, and lastly were the Undesirables. They were known as scum wherever they went.

Lacee was an Undesirable. She always had been, for as long as she could remember. She remembered going to the local school, or Education Center, as everyone called it, and being forcibly removed from the premises. At the time, she couldn't imagine why anyone could be so mean and hateful, but over time she came to realize why things were the way they were.

For starters, she wasn't thin and blonde and white like everyone else. She had dark braided hair, big round brown eyes, skin that was precisely the shade of creamed coffee, and a compact curvy frame. Not to mention the fact that she had no money, whereas all of the Knowledgeables were extremely wealthy. Her parents had died when she was young (she barely remembered them), and for years she had wandered from coven to coven of fellow orphans. All of them were Undesirables.

Now, Lacee was seventeen years old and walking down the side of the road, her arms wrapped tightly around herself so as to exercise some measure of relief against the cold. It was Cold Season. The leaves were changing colors, and she couldn't feel her toes as she made her way to the secret hangout for Undesirables, Magick Whiskers.

She looked longingly at the Education Center as she passed. Even after all those years had passed, she had never stopped wanting to learn. A fellow Undesirable had taught her how to read and write and perform math, and she was always looking for new books to read (she tried to avoid math at all costs), which was difficult-- learning was forbidden to Undesirables. Unfortunately, her gazes toward the Education Center did not go unnoticed.

A tall, stern-looking sentinel glared at her and grabbed her by her hair. "Ow! What?!" she snapped, trying and failing to remove herself from his grasp.

"You know what, little missy." The sentinel had a deep, gruff voice. He probably ate children for dinner, the monster. "Youse an Undesirable. You ain't go no bizness lookin' at these learnin' places. Learn yiz place!"

Lacee glared at him. That didn't exactly help her situation. Shaking her roughly, he shouted, "Learn some respect! Yer already walkin' on thin ice, little lady, you don't need to be lookin' fer no more trouble!" He threw her onto the cold, hard ground.

She stood up quickly and brushed herself off. "I'm sorry, sir," she said in a venomously sweet voice. "I'll just be on my way, then, shall I?"

She didn't wait to hear an answer before she raced around the corner.

Things like that weren't very unusual to Undesirables. Everyone had stories to tell of times they had been persecuted because of what they were. Bashing the authorities and "Desirables," as Undesirables called the rest of society, was a popular past time.

Lacee screeched to a sudden halt in front of an old wooden door, her breath coming in searing gasps. There was a painful stitch in her side, and she clutched it as she knocked three times in quick succession. Her knocking was answered by a jangling on the other side of the door, and she followed by repeating the knocking sequence.

The door immediately opened to a short boy with black hair and slanted eyes. "Lacee! Come in!" He moved out of her way and gestured her through the threshold, shutting the door behind her. "What's wrong? You okay?"

"Yeah, 'm fine. Really, Hiro," she added, seeing the skeptical look on his face. "I ran all the way here."

He nodded and opened up a second door, revealing a throng of people. Warm cries of welcome reached her ears, and Lacee felt that she was truly where she belonged. "Hey, you guys! Ready for the next lesson?"

Varying degrees of assent rippled across the room as she strode to the rolling white board in the corner. She pulled it to the center of the room and wrote in big capital letters: TWELFTH NIGHT. "Okay, everyone, who's read the assigned material?"

A small number of hands shot up. Those with their hands down looked around sheepishly, an embarrassed grin on their faces. Lacee raised an eyebrow and said, "Okay, well, I guess we can't do the fun activity I had planned for today. I'll read what you guys were supposed to read out loud." She rummaged in the bag in the corner for her copy of Twelfth Night.

Lacee's teacher, the one who had taught her everything she knew, had been killed by Desirables. Michael was a rebel, and he hadn't been shown any mercy. Even now, she was still the most knowledgeable Undesirable of them all. She taught the other Undesirables in secret at great personal risk. All of them, in fact, were in risk of losing their lives.

Still, even though they were down, they weren't out. They could still learn. The world could always be a better place. And someday, they would rid the world of its stupid prejudices and restrictions. Lacee had always believed that a place of freedom could exist (most of her friends called her a dreamer when she told them of this).

Lacee returned to the head of the room, play in hand, and looked out at the people assemble before her. She saw the girly girl, the emo, the jock, the loner, her best friend, and her crush. When it was just them, things were pretty normal. And, in comparison to all the other stuff that went on in their lives, normal was just fine.





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