Emmaline sighed, propping her chin in her hand, gaze wandering to the window near the back of the room. The whir of the class fan grated on her nerves, worsening her already raging headache.
Outside, it was beautiful. Blue sky, wispy clouds floating lazily, like bits of cotton candy.
She allowed herself to imagine running through the field, the masses of grass and flowers tickling her bare feet.
She closed her eyes, smelling the sweet fragrance, strengthened by the gentle breeze. She loved nature. Perhaps it was because.....
"Ms. Vanarsdale." The teacher's nasal voice pierced her eardrums. Startled and annoyed, she looked up. The teacher, who she secretly thought of as The Vulture.
With her high, viciously uptight bun and gaunt frame, and with the way she wore black all the time, she certainly earned the nickname.
Emma struggled to find a polite tone. "Yes, ma'am?"
"Would you mind terribly to explain what the melting and boiling points of steel, aluminum, gold, and hydrogen are?"
Her mind went blank. "Um..what?"
She was very aware of her classmates stares, the almost inaudible whispers. She swallowed. She heard herself stutter as she monotonously repeated the correct answers.
Or what she thought were the correct answers. The teacher scowled. "I am very sorry, Ms. Vanarsdale. This is Chemistry, not History."
Emma realized she'd just recited Civil war battles....not boiling and melting points. "Oh.Um."
She was acutely aware of her classmates stares, their whispers. Lately the whispers had been louder. Ever since her kind had been pulled from the woodwork, as they say..well. People talked.
It never bothered her before. She had no shame of what she was. It wasn't her fault some crazy had found a way to splice animal and human genes together.
It wasn't her fault she had the corresponding parts of her DNA. You know how people gushed over those anime cat people? Well...needless to say, the real version was not as cute.
She had the ears, and tail. A thick stripe of pelt down her spine. Claws and teeth, and cat slitted eyes. She was a freak, a monster. Not cute. Not cuddly.
She sat up in her chair. "I'm sorry, Miss hawkins. It won't happen again."
"I'd hope not. Now, who can tell me...?"
Emmaline zoned out again as the teacher droned on and on. She didn't really care about school. She just wanted to be outside. Feel the warmth of the sun, the breath of the wind.
Finally, finally the buzzer sounded, signalling freedom for a while as everyone went to eat lunch.
She wound her way through the crush of people, keeping her fluffy tail wrapped around her waist. People never paid attention.
she had once had her poor tail broken because no one could be bothered to be mindful. She kept her head down as she was pushed and shoved, everyone trying to get to the cafeteria at once.
She didn't notice when a certain person slipped up behind her. By the time she did, she couldn't do anything but react.
"Hey, kitty cat" a familiar voice, male and deep, sounded. Her ears flattened. she refused to turn around. "Leave me alone, Alexander."
"Aw, come on. Is the little kitty not FELINE so well?"
She flinched as his friends, who'd joined them, guffawed. Alexander-or Alec as he preferred to be called- tugged on one of her ears. She jerked away. "Don't touch me."
"Don't be such a scaredy cat, Emmaline," Alec smirked. "We're just playing."
"Yeah," One of his friends, Sebastian, agreed. "Just playing. Say, I heard your people have really..Sensitive tails."
"and ears," someone chuckled.
Emma stiffened as Alec stroked her ear. "Let go."
"Why? What you going to do, kitty? "
She gritted her teeth, bit the inside of her cheek. Blood welled, coppery and hot. The thing was, she couldn't do anything, and Alec knew it.
There were laws preventing an 'abomination' from using their 'peculiarities' to hurt other citizens. So basically, they couldn't fight back. They were on their own.
The boys crowded closer. every instinct she had screamed to claw and bite, run away. But she was frozen, in fear of what could happen. Her family could be kicked out of their home.
Alec's fingers brushed her tail. She could go to jail. 'Don't do it.' Alec's hand wrapped around her. She was trembling. She could hear their laughter, crude remarks about "pussycats".
She tried to get away, struggling. Someone grabbed her, holding her tight. She could have dealt with the teasing, the curiousity. But this..pain s Alec squeezed her tail. she yelped.
The next few seconds were a blur. There was a yell, an angry hiss.Shouts of panic. Blood. A burning.
She looked down. Her hand was coated in Alec's blood. He lay on the ground, covering his face. Not well enough. She could see what she had done. His friends stood well back, eyes huge.
Sebastian knelt next to Alec, snapping for someone to get the nurse.
Emma swallowed bile and turned tail. She had royally screwed up.