The next morning, I was late for breakfast. That was habit. I always waited to shower after the other girls. Ever since the fine orangey hairs started to grown all over my body about a year earlier. Not just on my arms and legs, but everywhere. My whole body was covered with an orange down, that, fortunately, was several shades lighter than my hair. I tried to shave it at first, but it would always grow back within a few hours, so there was no point. So I just started wearing long sleeves and pants no matter what the season, and I never showered wheb anyone could see me. I had enough nicknames without “Freak” being added to the list.
Anyway, I was late to breakfast as usual, and I guess I didn’t realize how everyone got really quiet when I walked into the cafeteria. Only after I got my food and turned to look for Essie, did I realized that every single kid that was older than five was staring at me.
I looked at my arms. They were covered. I was good. It didn’t even occur to me that it could be anything else. I walked over towards the table where Essie sat with two of the younger girls. Before I even got there, Essie shook her head, smiling this slow, mean smile, that I had never seen before.
“Nuh unh, Dumpster Annie,” she said. Cute, hunh? She sure was clever. It had only taken her eight hours to come with that lame little mash-up from the secret that I shared and one of my less hurtful monikers “Little Orphan Annie,”–from my red hair I suppose. “You can’t sit here. I don’t like the smell of garbage while I am eating.” By that time, the entire orphanage was cracking up.
I just stood there. I just stood there like some dumb, unmoving idiot, while they all pointed and laughed. Then the chant started. “Dumpster Annie!” “Dumpster Annie!” Who says orphans can’t be cruel?
Essie had told them everything. I would have thought that a person whose parents had just died in a tragic accident would have things on her mind besides gossip. I guess not.
That’s when my body started to shake. I was shaking so hard that the plate on my tray started to rattling. The tremors got harder and the silverware was popped off the tray like popcorn and clattering down to the floor. That just made them laugh harder.
Then my whole body started to tingling. It hurt. Like I was being poked with pins on every available surface of my body. My clothes suddenly felt like they were too tight or something and really itchy too. I looked at my arms. Little orange hairs were growing out through my shirt. Worse. New hairs were growing out of the backs of my hands
Finally I moved. I dropped that tray and ran out of the cafeteria as fast as I could, which was pretty fast. I had always been faster than average. Faster than anyone would think possible. Their shouts of laughter seemed to echo in my ears as I ran. Or maybe they were still laughing that hard.
Then I was in the fourth floor bathroom, standing in front of a sink. I gripped the edges with hands that were covered by orange fur. That’s the only way that I could think to describe it. It was getting longer by the moment. I looked in the mirror. My eyes were wild and angry. They frightened me, even though they were my own.
Then I saw the fur. Until that moment, it had stayed neatly–heck, conveniently– hidden beneath my clothes. Now, it was beginning to creep up my neck. It was thicker and darker than it had ever been and covered with black spots. I opened my mouth to scream and saw the fangs. Sharp and yellowed, they burst from my lower jaw, a pair dripping from my upper jaw to meet them. The more seconds that passed, the more my face was distorted. I knew I was going crazy.
©L. M. Davis. All Rights Reserved.
Check back next week for the conclusion to Bailey’s tale.