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Izren: A parasitic creature who takes on the form of a human being. Feels no genuine emotions as we know it, or remorse, and ends up as a social reject in most situations. Has strong connections to the dead along with possessing many other abnormal and freakish talents. Feeds off of attention and closeness with others, and will go to any lengths to find that attention. No matter what they feel that they must do. ______________________________________________________________________________________

Tension rises in my stomach as I make my way down the long, empty hallways of classrooms and bulletin boards, and I start to regret my hasty willingness to enter into this new school in California: Katherine E. Sherman Elementary. I feel so small in this gaping new school, and without my older sister Jenny by my side, I can’t help but feel vulnerable.

I stop at the classroom door which read: 113. This is it. I’ve arrived. Shakily, I open the door and look around. Every kid in the class swivels their heads to look at me. As usual for me, every one of these kids is white. I know deep down that I’ll once again be the only black girl in the class.

A small, pretty woman with short brown hair and a pearl necklace walks over to me with a smile, and introduces me to the class. She looked awfully young, maybe even too young to be a teacher.

“Everyone,” she says. “This is Mary Guna, our new student!” I cringe at the name. Guna. Everyone used to make fun of me back at my old school for that name, calling me “goonie” or just plain “goon”. It was horrible, I remember coming home after school crying because it got so bad…

“She came all the way from Michigan,” continues the teacher. “Mary, why don’t you go take that open seat, right next to Allen over there?” She points to the open desk, clean of any work materials besides a simple worksheet. Next to the desk is seated a sad-looking little boy, with shaggy light brown hair and black-rimmed glasses. He’s disgustingly pale, and stares down at the desk, his pencil moving back and forth without him touching it. Seeing that he’s all alone, I feel awful sorry for him, and gladly sit down, ignoring the stares from other students.

While the teacher gives morning briefings to the students, I shyly glance over at the boy’s nametag, seeing the name, “Allen Sabbath”. Desperate to start a conversation, I carefully smile at him and say quietly, “Hi there.”

Allen quickly and sharply looks back at me, the pencil stopping its movements altogether and lazily rolling down to his crossed arms on his desk. I flinch, confused as to how the pencil was moving in the first place.

“Oh, hi! You’re Mary, right?” His whole expression seems to light up with happiness, as if he’s relieved someone in the class would finally talk to him.

I nod. “Yeah… why are you sitting here all alone?”

Allen seems to hesitate, glancing off around at some of the fellow students, who are paying no attention to any of us, and looks back at me. “I’m not like other boys.”

“What?” I ask, a little too loudly. Several kids shush me, and I shrink back in embarrassment. Allen leans in toward me and whispers, “It’s my business, not yours.”

Anxiety pricks in my stomach, but I nod and listen to the rest of the lesson.

Eventually, recess comes along, and Allen automatically runs up to me at the playground. “Do you wanna play some tag?”

I know that I have nobody else to play with on the first day, and this boy seems sweet enough, so I accept.

“Cool!” he says. “You can have a head start.” He stares off into the distance behind me, as if he’s concentrating on something. I’m confused, but he urges me to run off before I can ask him what he’s doing. I do as he insists, and make a break for the cluster of trees in the near distance.

Suddenly, I feel my toes hit something hard, and I gasp in alarm as I collapse on the ground, face-first. I check to see what had happened: turns out, I’d tripped over a pretty large rock on the ground, but I can see how I’d have missed it from being so concentrated on the trees.

Smiling, Allen runs up and pokes me on the back. “Tag! You’re it!”

I groan. “No fair! I tripped!”

Allen just grins. “Anything is fair game, Mary.”

At that moment, a familiar black car pulls up, and the window rolls down. It’s my sister, Jenny. Immediately, I push myself up and run over to the car, yanking open the door in the passenger seat. I hear Allen running up behind me.

My sister swipes her short black bangs out of her face, putting down her smartphone. “Hey punkie, how was your first day?”

“Good,” I murmur. “I met a kid, his name’s Allen.”

Allen waves over at me in the car, going back to his lonely and puppy-like face.

“Is… that him?” asks Jenny.

“Yeah… he’s a little weird, but he’s a nice boy, I guess.”

“Aww, he looks so sad. Does he not have anyone else to play with?”

I shake my head. “Nobody in the third grade. He told me it’s because he’s ‘not like other boys’.”

“What does that even mean?”

“No clue, he won’t tell me.”

Jenny’s silent for a bit. “Well, we might as well be off. Mom and Dad said they’d be coming home tonight.”

I smile, excited to finally see them again. They’re always busy for work, and are never home, so it’s usually up to Jenny to take care of me. With that, we pull out of the narrow streets and drive for home.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

The next morning, I enter the school courtyard and look around for Allen. I see a bunch of older fifth-graders passing by and chatting, and a few little kids playing hand games in the grass. Suddenly, I spot him around the shadowy corner, staring at a wall of the brick school and mouthing something… was he seriously talking to a wall? I wonder, heading over.

Coming up to him, I loudly ask, “Who are you talking to?”

Allen jumps, then turns to glare at me. “I was talking to my friend! And you scared him away!”

I’m getting so confused, raising an eyebrow. “Huh? What ‘friend’? All I see is a brick wall!”

“He was a little boy in a school uniform, and he was really happy to see me! But then you came in and he disappeared…” Allen trails off from there.

Disdain and fury seem to burn inside my chest. “You’re- you’re insane, you know that?! No wonder nobody wants to sit with you! You’re a total nutjob!”

Tears begin to well up in Allen’s eyes. I want to feel sorry for him, I really do, but I just can’t. He’s not right in the head.

“I’m leaving!” I shout. “Go on and play with your own little imaginary friend, because I’m done talking to you!” I storm off, leaving Allen behind. I can hear him crying, but I furiously block him out. I can find better friends than him.

As the days go on, I begin to find new friends. Girls like me, and normal girls. Girls that don’t talk to brick walls. Girls that have better things to do than sit around and mope. Girls that don’t do weird things with pencils. We all get along so well, and for once I’m happy with the friends that I have.

Whenever Allen comes by to try his luck, I always shoo him away.

“Go away,” I say. “I don’t want to play with you, freak.” He always gets so hurt by it, but I pretend not to notice. I don’t need him anymore. Sometimes, I even hear him whispering something to himself as he walks off all alone, eyes on the ground before him… ______________________________________________________________________________________

~Jenny’s perspective~

It’s 1 AM on a Friday, and I’m still up texting Josh, who was back in Michigan, in the peaceful one-story house that my parents still have yet to come home to. I swear, they called earlier saying they’d be coming tonight… then again, they sometimes don’t come until around 2 or 3 AM. I sigh, wishing they could have chosen a different job that brought us down to California.

My eyes are getting heavy, and my fingers ache, but I continue typing anyway. We’re saying our goodbyes’ and love you’s, and I soon turn off my phone and curl up under the covers, closing my eyes with a smile on my face.

Just then, I hear loud crashing coming from Mary’s room, and an ear-piercing scream. My eyes grow huge, and I throw myself out of bed, yanking the covers off myself. I race down the hallway. “I’m coming, Mary! Mary?!”

I swing my sister’s bedroom door open and see what had gone down. The room had basically been torn apart. Papers from Mary’s desk had been strewn about the floor, and her large dresser and bed somehow had collapsed. I don’t even know how that was possible, it had somehow been turned upside-down on top of her. Seeing blood well out from beneath the pile of wooden furniture, I feel sick to my stomach.

Adrenaline courses through me, and using all my strength, I try to heave her twin-size bed off her. I grit my teeth and turn it back on its feet, then try to shove the dresser away.

Mary isn’t looking too good. She’s all bruised and bloodied from the crashes, her eyes closed. Panicking, I turn her over and placed my hand on her chest.

No heartbeat.

“MARY!” I cry, shaking with frightened tears. “Mary, you can’t be dead, please!”

Tears streaming down my face, I notice something out of the corner of my eye as I’m about to run off and call 911. There’s a note attached to the window: not the inside, but the outside.

Weird, I think to myself, going up to the window. It’s locked, meaning someone couldn’t have used physical force to do all of this. And everything certainly couldn’t have happened on its own. Bewilderment shakes me as I unlock the window and open it, ripping off the taped note on the outside.

I feel faint as I read it, dizzy as I try to process what had just happened. The note reads:

“I’m not like other boys.”

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