I hated everyone at that moment. Why had I ever thought anyone would ever stick up for me and tell the truth? But no, they wouldn’t believe me, so what was the point in trying? Only one person in the entire world even believed I wasn’t trash… worthless… and I had a bad feeling I would lose him sometime soon as well. It always happened to me. I reckoned it was because I was a Black-Wing. I bet nothing like that would happen to the White-Wing.
Coach Melvin dragged me away to the principal’s office. I knew things would not go very well. They dragged me into the familiar dark blue room, with the shades half pulled shut and sat me down in the chair. Principal Horace, with his long face, dark, unemotional eyes, and frown sat down on the other side of the desk.
“Téras Trómos, you—”
“I have violated rules ten and twenty-three, in disturbing the peace and fighting with a fellow student. I am suspended for today. I know.” I replied in a monotone, disinterested voice. I knew this all already.
Principal Horace sighed deeply. “This is the eighteenth time you’ve done this since you started attending school here, Téras! Téras, please try, just TRY to stay out of any fights for a month, can’t you do that? Don’t make this year the worst yet!” He stood up as he spoke passionately, but then sighed again. “Téras, you are one of the best students this school has ever had, but you must learn to control yourself!”
I stared at the ground, then rubbed my roughed up cheek where James had brushed it when he hit at me. I said nothing else.
Principal Horace dropped into his chair again and picked up the phone. “I am calling Auburn Prewitt to pick you up. You may—”
“Wait outside, I know.” I said, as I started towards the door slowly.
As I waited outside on the bench, I could hear Principal Horace talking with Auburn.
“Hello?” Came Auburn’s clear, but tired voice over the other end of the line.
“Mr. Prewitt, this is Principal Horace.”
There was a deep sigh. “I’ll be on my way in a moment.” He didn’t even have to be told about what it was. I reckon he already knew.
It seemed like hours I was sitting out there in the quiet hallway, the occasional secretary bringing a stack of papers down the hall was the only movement I saw. I heard a few muffled phone calls from other rooms, and fast typing of keys.
Why wasn’t James sent to the principal’s office? He was guilty too. In fact, he prompted it all! Why hadn’t anyone stood up for me—for truth? “It must be because I’m a Black-Wing.” I muttered. “No one ever cares… no one ever will…” Then I looked up to see the doors opening up, and a young man, with light brown, windblown hair striding into the hallway, in a yellow vest, white collared shirt, and brown work pants. He started slowing as he reached me, and in his eyes was a wearied disappointment.
I actually felt a pang of remorse in my heart. I was still hurting the only person who really cared about me…
“Téras… what happened now?” Auburn Prewitt, the man before me said, bending down so as to be eye level with me. I adverted my gaze. “Téras…”
“James Hutchins started it!” I finally blew. “He was standing where I always stand, and mocking me! I said for him to move, since he was being a bully, but he just stiffened himself and wouldn’t let me pass, and made fun of me! I couldn’t take it any longer! Auburn, I’m a—”
“Shh, that’s enough now, Téras. I know what you are, and I know how unfair it must all seem to you. But don’t you figure you could have… I don’t know… handled it differently?”
“Even if I hadn’t punched him, he would have hit me, and then I’d still be blamed! No one likes me, Auburn, and I don’t like them!”
“Well… Téras, you’ve gotta be a friend if you want to have friends—”
“I don’t want friends! I want someone who will really…” I searched for the right words. “Someone who will really accept me just the way I am! I don’t want to change!” I looked up at him with fiery eyes.
Auburn sighed and stood up. He ran his hands through his hand, making it stick up even more than it already had been. “What am I going to tell Father, Téras? That you were suspended on the first day of school, again? Téras, you already know he doesn’t like you in the house—he considers you another mouth to feed…”
I looked down. That again. All I was to anybody was a liability. I really was nothing…
“He’ll tell me, ‘Auburn, see I told you that kid would be nothing but trouble! Get him out of here before you regret it!’ And you know what I’ll say to him?! You know what I’ll have to say to him, Téras?!”
I knew. He’d have to say, ‘You were right, but I can’t go back now…’ I stared at my shoes.
“I’ll have to say ‘No.’”
I shot my head up and stared at him.
“I’ll say, ‘No, you’re wrong, Father. I won’t regret it. I’ll never regret it.’ And you are no more trouble than any other boy your age, Téras—or should I say, ‘special’ boy your age.” Auburn motioned to my wings. Even though I knew he couldn’t see them, he had been one of the few normal people to be involved in taking care of the last remaining members of the winged society, which was now disappearing, for some strange reason. When he’d found me, the last Black-Wing documented on earth, orphaned, he’d taken me in. He was the only person who understood me truly. I actually gave him a small, genuine smile, as he said, “Let’s go home, buddy.”
As the school day dragged on, I started getting more nervous. One of my classes had a test that was coming up, and I’d not studied it one bit, even though I was supposed to over the summer. My friends encouraged me, and one offered me a cheat sheet, just trying to be helpful, you know, but I couldn’t bring myself to take it, though I was half tempted to. I pulled out a pencil as I sat down at my desk and looked at the blank sheet of paper.
“All right, turn your papers over now, and begin.” The teacher said, and I quickly flipped my paper over and started working. This test was timed too—I did even worse with timed things…
I could just hear the timer ticking away as I scribbled down as many things as I could. I actually started to sweat with fear of what would happen if I failed this test…
“All right, class, it’s time to hand in your papers. Time is up.”
The time was up already?! Impossible! I was only on question twenty-seven of forty! However, I slowly, but reluctantly stood up with all the other kids and made my way to the front.
“It’ll be all right, Eilad.” One kid clapped me on the shoulder. “Just you wait and see. You’ll do fine.”
Oh boy, how I hoped he was right.
When we were let out for recess and lunch break, I ran over to see the grades posted up on the wall for all the kids to see, a couple of my friends following me.
“Oh, ho! Awesome! I made it in fifth place!” James Hutchins exclaimed. “I got ninety-three percent!”
I scanned for my name. It wasn’t in the top ten, and I wasn’t expecting that, but when it wasn’t in the teens either, I started to worry. There were only twenty-eight kids in my class… and ah, there I was. Listed as number twenty-seven, with only sixty percent. Whoops.
“Hey, at least you’re not number twenty-eight! Téras got a zero since he missed this class!” James laughed, but he was starting to annoy me.
“You all know if he’d been here, he’d have topped first place. In every subject he does.” I said. “So I’m apparently the dumbest kid in school if the only reason I’m not on the bottom score is because someone is absent.” I grumbled, turning away from the board. I then looked up and saw the teacher motioning me over.
“Come with me, please, Eilad.” She whispered, smiling at me. Of course, I was every teacher’s ‘pet’. It was my cross to bear. I slowly followed her to her desk, and I stood in front of it. “I know, Mrs. Marsh, I failed. Again. But I promise I’ll do better next class!” I looked up at her with large blue eyes. “Please give me another chance!”
She sighed deeply. “I’ve called your parents and arranged for you to be paired with another student over the course of the school year to help both of you. I know you know Téras Trómos.”
Oh dear, here it came.
“Well, his guardian has expressed his concern with his social skills, or lack thereof, just as your parents have expressed their concern with your failing grades. Eilad, you almost failed last year. You don’t want to be held back this year because of your grades, do you?”
“Oh, please don’t pair me with Téras! He hates my guts!” I blurted out before I could stop myself.
Mrs. March laughed sweetly. “Oh now, now, you don’t really know him. Sure, he fights a lot, but I’m sure his guardian and your parents won’t let you hurt each other.”
More like they wouldn’t let him hurt me. Well, I certainly couldn’t tell my parents that I went to school with a Black-Wing anyway. They’d demand that he leave or they’d take me out of the school, and would never let us see each other. For the longest time, I’d heard from my parents that Black-Wings were our enemies, and though it was hard for us White-Wings to be cold or hurtful to anyone, we had to be that way to Black-Wings. But, since they believed the Black-Wings to be all gone, I hadn’t been told the story of the formation of the estrangement of Black and White Wings in quite some time. Perhaps they wouldn’t mind me hanging around Téras? I mean, it wasn’t my choice… I figured I’d just have to avoid my house with Téras, and he’d have to avoid his Black-Winged friends and family… if he had any. No one would have to know. I felt myself subconsciously nodded along.
“Good. I’ll tell Téras to meet you in the Study Hall tomorrow.”
Great. Well, tomorrow was going to be a very interesting day indeed.