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Somewhere Only We Know
Caoimhe awoke in a cold sweat. The same dream that had been terrorizing her every night for months had occurred again. She was falling, and heard screams. She turned and saw a boy, around her age, falling with her. She’d stretch out an arm to grab him, but just as her fingertips grazed his, she awoke.
She dragged herself out of bed and began getting ready. On her way down the stairs, she stumbled over her sister, Grainne’s, coat. She tossed it over the stair railing and finished her descent to the first floor. She quickly had breakfast and headed out the door.
As she walked down the sidewalk to school, she took note of the world around her. Mr. Hendrix, whose upper half was that of a man and lower of a horse, sat on his porch drinking coffee. Ayven and Aine, the children of her next-door neighbors, sat in their driveway playing some sort of game passed through the generations by their elven ancestors. The pale-featured faes flew by, their wings humming as they went. Mermaids glided through the shimmering waters of the lake.
To anyone looking in, all of this may seem very bizarre, but I assure you this is all quite normal. You see, not all worlds are like the one we live in. The unknown is not to be feared.
Unfortunately, it is merely an instinct to fear the unknown. For that reason, Caoimhe had learned to blend in. As the only human in a magical world, she was an outsider. She’d learned the ways of the mystical. ‘See, don’t be seen,’ was a phrase she lived by. She observed, analyzed, and mimicked, while ensuring she was never the center of attention.
Her life had always gone according to plan. She always lingered in the background. For sixteen years, she remained hardly noticeable. She was the kind of person who people could recognize, maybe even remember the name of, but never knew much more than surface-level information.
She arrived at school. The same run-down building in the same small middle-of-nowhere town she’d been in her whole life. New students were a rarity in her town. No one ever moved to that dumpy little place. She sat down at her desk. She pulled her tattered folder out of her ratty-looking backpack. She pulled her homework out and walked to the turn-in tray. She set the paper in the tray and returned to her seat.
Class had started, the teacher droning on about quantum physics and Caoimhe was tuned out. In her school, the teachers had already decided whether you were dumb or smart by the time you entered first grade.
Caoimhe was supposed to be smart, probably because she learned to spell ‘obnoxious’ when she was five. She could scribble a bunch of gibberish down on a test and still get an A. The teachers never even read it.
Caoimhe’s little sister, Grainne, was supposed to be dumb. No one ever admitted it, but it was probably because she swallowed a washer when she was around six or seven and was rushed to the emergency room. She usually got D’s.
The teacher’s lecture was interrupted by the principal entering the room. A boy stood behind her; a new kid. Caoimhe’s classmates ogled at the sight of a new student. Caoimhe was staring for a whole different reason. He was the boy from her dream. He stared back. He’d seen Caoimhe before, too.