The plate that held Wyrillian’s previously-warm breakfast sat untouched while his mother and father debated one of the many topics they didn’t agree on. Neither of them noticed him get out of his chair and grab his bag for school. It wasn’t until he was halfway out the door that he heard his mother’s voice.
“Wyri dear, you didn’t touch any of your food!”
He mumbled that he wasn’t hungry and began walking down the dirt path that led to school. There were no friends for him to meet up with on the journey – Wyrillian was a loner, only speaking to the other children when necessary. He would have loved to have befriended the other kids, in fact he was even fairly outgoing, but he was scared of revealing himself. His parents even encouraged him to socialize, although they each had their separate motivations. His mother seemed to believe that his potential friends would be of pure hearts and would keep his secret. How could she be so trusting? His dad believed in socializing for the purpose of recruiting what would essentially amount to a gang to protect his secret. Wyrillian didn’t particularly like that option much better. So there he was, not socializing at all, almost too terrified to interact with his peers.
He arrived at school and went to his first class, agriculture. It was one of his favorite subjects, partially because he could imagine himself owning his own farm one day. The new king was pro-agriculture so he bet he could eventually find land to farm near the capital.
Wyrillian was shook from his daydream as his teacher guided the students outside to check on the growth of their projects. The largest plant belonged to Wyrillian. He figured his success was largely due to the effort he put in with his own secret garden behind his house.
As the class settled down, the teacher lectured on the best way to encourage healthy vegetable growth. Per usual, some of the students chatted over her but the teacher didn’t care enough to stop it. The ringleader of the chatty group was Rossi. She always had someone to harass or something to gossip about. Apparently today her focus was Wyrillian. Her eyes found the progress of his plant and she made eye contact with him.
“Nice plant,” she mocked.
Wyrillian just gave her a brief smile.
“I bet you come out here with Com at night to water your plant,” she giggled with her group of followers.
Com was another loner in the class, but not by choice. It was well-known that his mother was a native to the lands before Rayon had settled the kingdom of Elodine. And so, Com was considered a hybrid. He could change into his cursed animal form at will due to his mixed lineage, not just forced into it at night like the pure blood settlers. Due to Rossi, like the majority of the pure-blooded population, believing herself to be superior to the hybrids, people like Com were shunned. Individuals like Wyrillian were lucky if they could keep their genealogy a secret for this long.
Wyrillian faked a laugh, “I may be a ‘loser’ like you say, but even I’m not at Com’s level.” He threw in an eye roll to be convincing. Wyrillian was always filled with guilt every time he had to make fun of the boy to cover for himself.
“I’ll give you that one,” Rossi said, finally turning her attention away from Wyrillian.
When Wyrillian finished his day at school, he took off down the dirt path home. He had a bit of a skip in his step, as he always did after school – one more day that his secret remained a secret. When he was halfway home, however, he heard footsteps from behind. He turned and saw Rossi running to catch up to him, her feet kicking up dust.
“Hi, worm,” she came skidding to a stop next to him.
“Uh, hi,” he replied.
“So, I was thinking… I don’t believe you’re as shy as you say you are.”
Wyrillian wasn’t sure why she was approaching him with such a suspicion. He had treated today like any other day.
“You’re kind to everyone, you’ve never even said a bad word about me, so why is it that Com disgusts you? Do you really hate Unnaturals that much?” Rossi poked him in the chest.
“He’s not on our level,” Wyrillian thought quickly, “I change at sunset, same time every night, just like you.”
“Huh, guess you’re right,” Rossi shrugged as she took off through a nearby alley.
Despite his confusion, Wyrillian reached his house a few minutes later, greeted by his dad. Wyrillian still wasn’t sure what his dad did, sometimes he’d be out-of-town for weeks on end but then he’d return and be home for a similar amount of time.
“Good day? Get that protection detail I suggested yet?” His father asked.
“Working on it, spoke to a few kids about it today,” Wyrillian fibbed.
“Sounds good, if you need me I’ll be in the other room,” his father began to walk off.
“Hey dad,” the boy called after his father, “Does mom change at the same time every night? Or is there a…”
“Variance?” Wyrillian Sr. finished for him, “Yeah there is, why?”
The boy set his backpack down and frowned.
His dad continued, “Is there something wrong?”
“Rossi might know…”
Wyrillian’s dad sat down and asked his son to tell him everything. They sat there together while Wyrillian told him of the conversation in agriculture and the subsequent Rossi appearance after school. Sr. scratched his chin, silent for a few long minutes once the story was told.
“I’ll be back,” his father stood up and grabbed a hat before walking out the door.
Wyrillian watched his dad jog down the street before turning out of view. The boy sat for a few minutes, not sure what to do with himself. He decided to take his mind off trying to figure out what his father was going to do by tending to his plants in his garden. Wyrillian didn’t know what his form was called, he’d never heard of anything similar but it worked well with his garden. As he rounded the corner of his hut he began to change, his body shrunk and his arms and legs became six. His tan skin became a pattern of black and yellow bristle-like hairs. He grew wings as he became little bigger than a fingernail. Wyrillian buzzed along, he was happiest in this form. He landed on his favorite flower, not worrying about his father or Rossi. He tended to his garden for the next few hours.
After finishing his gardening and changing back several hours later, he went to bed with one ear open. He woke up the next day and hustled down to the kitchen, his heart sinking when he saw his dad’s chair was empty. His mother saw his glance to his father’s chair.
“He left on a work trip last night, he said about two weeks this time,” she seemed unperturbed while sipping her drink.
Wyrillian ran upstairs and threw on clothes for school. He didn’t stop running until he made it to school, briskly walking through the halls until he reached his agriculture class. He was early so he sat down in the back of the classroom and watched each student enter. Wyrillian fidgeted each time a new student came in, his hands becoming clammy as there became fewer and fewer open seats. The teacher finally walked in and closed the door behind her – Rossi was not present. Wyrillian blinked back tears as he stared in disbelief at her empty seat.