You know there’s more than just humans out there, Jade.
Mom, we haven’t seen or heard from the Stanger Clan in what, thirty years? Maybe forty? Why should they be out there now?
The sigh of exasperation Jade’s mother gave was almost comical, and she would have smiled, but for the seriousness in her eyes. Her mother knew full well Jade was hiding something, and was trying to get her daughter to come out with it; something Jade had no intention of doing. The hatred all immortals carried towards humans was just too intense to even risk it.
The two women stared each other in the eyes, each hoping the other would see the error of their ways, and back down. The impasse ended when Jade’s brother entered the room.***
“There you are,” he said casually has he brushed by her.
Stopping at the fridge, he opened it and pulled out a soda. With a quick look at their mother, her brother turned to Jade and asked, “So, where were you last night?”
“Wouldn’t we all like to know,” answered a new voice, entering the kitchen. It was her father, followed by Jade’s two fifteen year old cousins.
Feeling outnumbered, Jade sought to make a quick retreat. While she loved her family, she didn’t need them all trying to pry her secrets out of her. Instead, she looked at her brother and replied, “Where I go, and when I go there is my business. I can take care of myself.”
“Yes, but why should you go anywhere where you might need to?” Her father answered as he sat down at the breakfast table, “your mother has asked you, now I’m asking you, where were you last night?”
“Why does it matter where I was?”
Because I heard from your brother you had an altercation at school yesterday involving three human boys.
Her father’s voice in her head was no less stern than as if he’d spoken aloud, but his point was twice as clear. With the voice came all the feelings behind it. Frustration, anger, and more than a little suspicion. While she might put them off for a little while, sooner or later they would expect answers.
“Why it is that the things I do should get so much attention is beyond me. I was out walking, okay? I didn’t like the things that happened yesterday any more than you did, and I hated being in the middle of it. I needed to think, is that so wrong?”
Jade’s answer was half true, and she was sure her parents knew it. She saw them exchange a look, but wasn’t able to placate them any more before her cousins piped up.
“Oooh, Jadie’s keeping secrets!” Said one.
“I bet she has a crush on that human boy.” Said the other.
“I heard one of them stuck up for her, I bet she was up all night thinking about him.”
“Brendon, Braden, such filth will not be allowed in my house, is that clear?” Her father’s voice was deadly quiet, and she knew he was all business. So too did the boys.
“Yes, Uncle Russell. We understand,” Braden said, turning to Jade he said, “and I’m sorry I said you had a crush on a human.”
“Filthy talking monkeys, all of them. They serve no useful purpose at all.” Jade’s brother chipped in.
“That’s enough, Jasper.”
Jade was supremely grateful everyone’s attention was on the boys and not her. They missed the horror in her eyes when Brendon mentioned being up all night thinking about a human. They had no idea how right he was.
Before anyone could return to interrogating her, Jade grabbed a soda of her own from the fridge and made a quick exit from the kitchen. She ran up the stairs to her bedroom and shut the door. Retreating to her bed, she slipped off her shoes, reclined back with one arm behind her head, and let her mind wander.
Humans aren’t that different from us. We look just like them, except for our eyes. We just live longer and can do things they can’t. So why do we hate them so much? Jade knew the feeling ran deep, and was more ancient than the oldest of her kind. It was one of many things she’d thought about during the night.
Another thought entered her mind just then. It was the image of Arthur Dracon as he stood up for her, even getting into a fight because he didn’t like the way the other two treated her. He hadn’t done it to win her affections, that much was clear from the beginning. His pain was there long before he ever came up the stairs.
© 2016, Tim Hillebrant. All rights reserved.
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