Amber had almost survived another day.
The children scrambled to find their places in line. A whirlwind of backpacks and lunchboxes collided, inexplicably, into two straight lines near the door to the classroom.
Outside, Amber hid near the brick wall. She pretended to seek out the shade, but really she was terrified of the other students. As far as she could tell, her classmates didn’t know. However, they teased her enough already.
Eventually, everyone would find out. Amber knew this because her mother—her adoptive mother, who did not understand—had warned her about the changes her body would go through as she matured. When no one was looking, Amber often held her arms out in front of her to check their length. In class, when she got bored, she pulled up her sleeves to examine her skin, scratching at it to see if it was blue just beneath the surface.
As she watched her classmates play, she wondered if any of them were martians too. Not possible, she decided. They played together too easily, marched around the playground too confidently. They were all too human. Just then, Skylar sauntered over to Amber’s place on the brick wall.
“Why are you just standing here?”
“I think it’s because you don’t have any friends,” Skylar responded with a sly smile.
Amber looked down at her shoes. As she did, she noticed her clasped hands descending toward the ground.
It was happening.
Amber fidgeted, hoping to hide the sudden change, but she took one look at Skylar’s face and realized that her secret was no longer safe. Skylar turned to say something to the pack of girls who had followed her. Skylar always brought along an entourage.
Suddenly, Amber’s arm escaped. Now a glorious shade of periwinkle, it wrapped itself over Skylar’s shoulder and around her neck. Amber’s hand found its way to Skylar’s mouth and covered it. Some of the students screamed, others stood silent, staring. They had all seen martian women before, but surely none of the children had actually spoken to one. Mrs. Bloom ran toward them from the other side of the playground.
“What’s going on here?”
Amber rolled her eyes with exasperation and released Skylar from her grip.
“Humans,” Amber huffed.
That was the day she became a woman. That was the day she learned the power of fear.
About the author:
Sarah Vernetti is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. When she isn’t writing about travel, she’s busy crafting short stories and flash fiction. Sarah holds a Master’s degree in art history, which, quite frankly, doesn’t come in handy very often.