Feature of the Month
"The Faces Of Hate" Challenge
"Degrees Of Wrong"
The universe nominally belongs to Marvel but everything else below this point belongs to me, me, me! The following has been rattling around in my head in loose form for ages, but only just now made it onto paper in response to Kaylee's "Faces Of Hate" challenge. I'm not sure if this brief tale actually fits the FOH challenge criteria, but it was at least jumpstarted by Kaylee's idea, so she deserves credit.
I love feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org -- fire away!
Please do not archive without my permission.
PLEASE NOTE: There's a touch of bad language herein -- probably no worse than you'd use yourself in a situation like this, so deal with it. ;)
Sarah didn't hear the first knock, which was perfectly reasonable seeing as it had exactly coincided with a boom of thunder which rattled the house to its foundations and shot a flicker of static across the TV screen. The second knock rang out in the ensuing lull, however, and was rather hard to miss. The petite fifteen-year-old sat straight up on the sofa, almost knocking her Mountain Dew off of the couch's arm.
Who would be out on a night like...
A third knock echoed through the front hallway -- and this time its staccato rhythm sounded unmistakably frantic. Reluctantly pausing her taped X-Files episode, Sarah clambered to her feet and trudged to the door. It was probably her stupid brother. He was always leaving his key on the dresser when he went next door to hang out with his pals.
The knocking started up again and this time it didn't stop. "Yeah, yeah, hold your horses Brian, you won't drown," she called out over the racket as she stood up on her toes to peer out through the peephole. Mom and Dad were out for the evening, and it was better safe than sorry...
Instead of Brian's frowsy blond head, she found herself looking straight into a fish-eye-distorted blue iris. The eye blinked -- and changed purple.
With a gasp, Sarah immediately scrambled to unlock the door and fling it open. "Jenna! Holy shit! What are you doing over here? It's pouring rain!"
"No duh," her best friend retorted succinctly. Clad only in a tee-shirt and jeans, she was drenched from scruffy blonde head to sneakered toe and was hugging her school backpack to her soggy chest, on a Saturday night. "Can I come in?"
"Sure, yeah, of course, let me get you a towel--" Biting back the obvious questions, Sarah whirled in a flare of long black hair and pounded upstairs, returning seconds later with an armload of terrycloth and a spare set of her brother's clothes for her much taller buddy.
Dripping all over the worn carpet, Jenna silently let herself be hustled into the bathroom and emerged ten minutes later, somewhat dry, in sweat pants and a "No Fear" teeshirt that hung awkwardly around her shoulders. "I left my stuff in the bathtub, is that okay?"
"No prob, I'll just throw it in the dryer." However, Sarah made no move towards the bathroom just yet. "Jenna, c'mon, what's going on?"
Jenna stared at her feet, but not before her eyes shifted to a deep unhappy green. "I told them."
"You what?!" It only took a split-second for Sarah to put two and two together. "Oh no. They threw you out?!"
"Would I have walked two blocks in the rain if they hadn't?" Jenna snarled. She repented an instant later, one hand flying to her mouth. "I'm sorry, I didn't--"
"I know. It's okay. C'mon." Sarah tugged insistantly at the taller girl's arm until she allowed herself to be led to the sofa and wrapped in a blanket. Sarah sat down next to her, her expression a mixture of pity and suppressed rage. "You actually, uh, 'came out of the closet' to them, huh?"
A small quick nod, eyes glittering amber then a new shade of blue. "Uh huh. I mean, c'mon -- I can't hide what I am forever, right?"
"Absolutely not. I can't believe it. I mean, I can't believe they did this to you! Tell me from the top, okay?"
"There's not much to tell," Jenna replied softly, clutching the battered old quilt close to her still-damp skin -- skin which swirled with prismatic colors when she wasn't careful to keep a close rein on it. Like her eyes. Like now. "I mean yeah, I told Mom and Dad, and yeah, they told me to get out. Basically." Her voice sank to almost a whisper. "They were pretty mad. Mom used the word 'disgusting,' even. And Dad called me a freak. Can you believe it...?"
"Oh man...that's crazy. I didn't think anyone actually SAID things like that. Not on the West Coast, anyway. I'm so sorry." Sarah gave her a quick, sincere hug. "Is it...for good? You being kicked out, I mean?"
"I dunno. I hope not." Blue chased red chased gold across her forehead and down her cheek, swirling down the curve of her neck and disappearing under the blanket. Used to her friend's colorful mutation, Sarah didn't even blink, although she did note worriedly that Jenna almost NEVER lost control like this. Never in public, of course, but not even usually around her best friend. This was bad.
"Can I stay the night here? Maybe your parents can give me a ride over to Grandma's in the morning. I can stay there until Mom and Dad calm down."
"Do you think they will?"
Jenna 's lip quivered and she bit it angrily to keep from crying. "I don't see how they can. God! It's the NINETIES, and this is California! I didn't think...I didn't think they'd get so, so upset..."
Sarah made a rude teenaged "yeah, whatEVER" noise between her lips. "Screw them. I think that was really, really brave of you. You did what you had to do. If they can't handle you being a 'freak,' then you don't need them. Right?"
Jenna made a ghostly attempt to smile. "Well, kinda. I have to live SOMEwhere, and I don't think your family really wants another kid."
"Eh, so you stay with your grandmother for a while. I'm sure it'll work out okay in a few days, once things cool down. Though if I were you, I wouldn't really want to go back, not after the way they treated you."
"I know, but I have to go back eventually." The older girl sighed, watching a streak of rose and silver snake around her fingers where they held the blanket closed over her chest. "Grandma's not going to be happy about this. I hate to just drop in on her, but..."
"She loves you. She won't kick you out onto the streets. Not like..."
"Yeah. Not like Daddy Dearest and Genghis Mom." Jenna made a face and shook her head in bemusement. "I don't get it. I just don't GET it. They were so cool with it last year when I showed them that I was a mutant...
... How was I supposed to know that they'd completely freak out when I told them that I'm bi?"
"Degrees Of Wrong"
©David D. Amaya
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