Cindy: Why?! First she ruins my skort and now...
Claire: Now now, don't fret please. She may have gotten away with it that time...
Emily: *grumpy look and tone; arms folded* And I'd do it again too!
Claire: *pats Emily's head* Would you really, you sour little munchkin you?
Shad: Wait, that little Girl Scout’s the one who...
Emily: *snaps* Who're you calling a girl scout?!
Shad: Haha. You kinda look like one with that getup. It's almost as cute as a Girl Scout uniform.
Emily: What do you care? Who the heck are you anyway?!
Shad: Yikes. My name's...um...*to Claire* Mommy, should I?
Claire: *nods* She's well aware of her name. Well, sort of.
Shad: My name is...
Emily: HAHAHA!! You...*giggles* you still call her mommy?!
Shad: *blushes* Uh...why?
Cindy: When the students turn eight they address their female parents as mother.
Shad: Nah, I prefer mommy.
Emily: A seventh-grader who calls his mother mommy?! And I thought Ms. Jabbers-a-lot was weird. Pffft! I don't care! Why am I here anyway?!
Claire: I made some arrangements to have you dropped off here. I figured that you owe Cindy an apology, not to mention getting acquainted a little. Shaddy here would love that. *points to an empty chair* You can sit at that table, across from Cindy.
Emily: Heh. I can still see her undies through that flimsy thing. Whatever. *goes to her seat*
Claire: Just think of it as counseling. Granted, we have a lot to discuss but its best if we take things slow.
Emily: I don't even want to be here!
Claire: *stern tone* Would you rather be home now?
Emily: *pauses* N...no.
Claire: Well let’s begin with the obligatory introductions. My name is Claire Staydamind, but of course you're free to call me Claire. My son is Shad Staydamind, who, while capable of being the brightest tools in the shed, doesn't quite act like it often.
Cindy: *raises hand* Question.
Claire: Yes Cindy?
Cindy: Is it...
Emily: *butts in* Nuh-uh! I go first! Can I go home?
Shad: Mommy said you...
Emily: Why am I here again?
Claire: Cindy raised...
Emily: Why do you call her Cindy?! Why not Piper? And why did you call me Emily? Where'd you...
Cindy: *yells* I asked the question first!
Emily: No, ME!!
Cindy: I raised my hand first!
Emily: *stands up; chair scoots back* I said the question first!
Cindy: *does likewise* You can only ask one!
Emily: That's not what she said, geekbait!
Cindy: Quit calling me names!
Emily: Shut up, nerd queen!
Shad: *nervous* Mommy didn't say anything about this happening! C'mon, girls! Get along! Don't fight! Please?!
Claire: My my, two minutes in and already the catfight begins. Didn't really want to do this, but...
*Claire raises an open palm and in one fell swoop...BAM!!!! The senseless bickering stops, sending the attentive children back to their seats*
Claire: Now that that's over, let's continue this in a coherent matter. Emily, I'm sure that Cindy raised her hand first. In this session, we raise our hands first. *to Cindy* Your question?
Cindy: Is it okay if we tell Emily about the Gifters?
Claire: If Emily wants to. Though it's not necessary. Those lectures were meant for you after all.
Emily: No. *raises hand* Why do you call Her Naughtiness here Cindy?
Cindy: Her WHAT?!
Claire: Ooooooookay. Ignoring that last insult, that happens to be Piper's real name. It's also displayed on ID cards, but they're disguised with numbers. All it takes is clever knowledge of ABCs and 123s. *to Cindy* Can you show Emily real quick please?
Cindy: *annoyed* What?! Why me?! Me? Acquainted with HER?! She's a ruffian! A bully! She makes me miserable just for fun and Claire wants me to...
Emily: Fine. *takes off her ID card and slides it across the desk to Cindy* Well? You're the smart one! Not like I have any choice...as usual.
*lifting a nearby pencil and turning to a blank side of the paper, Cindy scribbles down the proper things necessary to breaking the code of the number names. Recalling what Arlcie has taught her, she writes down only five of the twenty-six numbers often seen in children's ID cards and all twenty-sex alphabets. Even now, Cindy wonders if her guardian angel is still out there somewhere. After putting in the final touches, the paper and ID card slides across the table back to Emily*
*picking up the paper, Emily first sees the alphabet. At first she appears confused due to not being able to properly understand exactly why Cindy wrote it; Even more puzzling to her are certain numbers written below the specific letters, as shown...*
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
5 9 12 13 25
Cindy: Cross out any letter that doesn't have a number under it.
*swiping the same pencil Cindy just used, Emily makes a quick slash through all the unqualified letters*
E I L M Y
5 9 12 13 25
Emily: "Eilmy?!" *glares at Cindy* THAT'S my name?!
Cindy: I'm not done yet! The last step is to imagine that the letters I and M have switched places. After that, have I and L switch too. Then you can switch the numbers.
*in her mind, Emily imagines the letters as students in a lunch line. She's M and L is the unfortunate student that gets cut in line. Now it says Emliy. Lastly, she makes herself I and cuts in front of L, which gets pushed back to Y. The final word: Emily*
*her head jolted back quickly in surprise, Emily takes a good look at her ID card. Child# 5-13-9-12-25. Shifting her attention to the paper, now having the puzzle solution on it (she wrote it while imagining). For the first time in a long time, Emily is just as shocked as she is sour*
Emily: *eyes widened* Wh...ho...di...
Cindy: I was kind of surprised too, but is it okay if you don't say it out loud in school? The other teachers don't...
Emily: My name really IS Emily!! I thought Ms. Staydamind...
Claire: Claire. Call me Claire.
Emily: WHATEVER!! Why do we even have numbers for names anyway?!
Shad: I hear our ID cards have tracking devices in them that remain dormant until something were to happen to us. In case we got lost or something, it turns on and the Enforcers would be able to find us! That, and it keeps any other information away from Marked Ones. At least, that's what they said on TV.
Claire: *scoffs; mutters* A lot of good that'll do. Not!
Claire: Sorry if this seems too big of a shock to you Emily. To be honest though, I was always under the impression that you always knew your name until recently?
Emily: Huh? What made you think that?
Claire: Do you recall the last time you've seen your parents?
Emily: *raspberry* PFFFFFFT!! Like you care!
Shad: *raises hand* I have a question for Emily. *to Emily* What are those weird marks on your wrist?
Emily: *grumbles; arms folded* I keep falling.
*not believing the lie, Shad walks to Emily and grabs hold of her hand, pulling towards him to take a better look at the raw, nearly blistering marks around the wrist*
Shad: This was no fall. At worst you'd get a scrape and even then the most common areas are the knees. *looks down at her knees* Nope, nothing. But these seem to be a little...I don't know. Those twists that rough kids do don't usually leave stuff like this.
Cindy: He sounds so grownup talking like that. Maybe I was wrong about thinking he acts like a little kid.
Claire: What's your hypothesis Shad?
Shad: Well I'd like to ask Emily again, but if I have to take a quick guess.............humph! *to Emily* Do these happen to be rope burns?
Cindy: They're what?!
Claire: Ugh! Knew it!
Emily: I...*faltering* it...
Shad: Looks like someone's tying you up a lot. Why is that?
Emily: *shaking* No...none of...
Claire: Emily? Is there something going on at home?
Emily: SHUT UP!! None of your beeswax! What do you know?!
Claire: That's the problem, we DON'T know! Assuming that they are rope burns...
Emily: *snaps* You grownups think you know everything, don't you?! Just LEAVE ME ALONE!!!
Claire: *biting nails* Simmer...
Shad: Uh-oh. Nail biting. Mommy, just leave her alone. If she doesn't want to talk about it, don't force her. She'll speak when she's ready.
Emily: See?! *points at Shad* HE knows what I'm talking about!
Claire: *sigh* Normally we'd settle this with a vote but since Shad insists and you're so upset...we'll go with that. Any other questions?
*Emily points at the whiteboard, half-littered with the drawings from one of the previous lectures given by Claire prior to the girl's arrival*
Cindy: It was part of a lecture.
Emily: Lecture? This is tutoring?!
Claire: You...can call it as such. Would you like to hear it?
Cindy: Just turn over that paper. I wrote a few things pertaining to the lecture. Don't know if you'll like it though.
Emily: Pertaining? What kind of wacky hard words is she using?! Whatever. Better not be long.
*not wishing to invest much time in that which she usually finds dull, Emily skims through the relatively short set of notes Cindy wrote earlier*
Shad: What do you think? Isn't it great?
Emily: There's a big sister and little brother? *looks around* Where?
Claire: Just a figure of speech. It pertains to the lecture that speaks of the Soulbody Theory. Of course, it also goes by other names.
Shad: I did the Gifter Theory.
Emily: I thought they don't exist. Why do you want to tell me about people that don't exist?
Shad: *gleefully* But the thought of them are just amazing! It can really happen you know! I wonder if daddy ever encountered one.
Claire: I doubt it. He wasn't involved in the study that much. Had no time for it. He was doing something far more important anyway.
Cindy: *lost in thought* I haven't known this boy for long, but he seems really nice; Almost nicer then Claire even (if that's possible). Shad seems to like kids a lot. He barely took his eyes off me. *looks down at her half-exposed underwear* No, that can't be why. Shad’s definitely the type of person to believe what I have. I don't know if he'll help me, but...
Cindy: Should I risk that? I can't let Claire nor Shad be taken away because of that same dense misunderstanding. I might have to keep my Heart's Eye a secret from him for now. Just letting Claire know is good enough.
Claire: *louder* Cindy!
Cindy: But just her knowing won't be enough for good. It always comes up at the worst of times. It happened when I was guiding that man, it happened when I saw Shad the first time, and even today it happened. All these times for so long, scaring me, and it never stays gone. If Gifters have powers, didn't they control them? Did they suffer as I did? Or maybe I'm different somehow...
Emily: *shouts* Hey Miss Perfect! Claire's calling you!
Cindy: *snaps out of it* Wha?! Who?!
Shad: You looked like you were daydreaming? Or lost in thought? Or both. Meh, that's something we have in common. I do it too.
Claire: Had something on you mind I see. What was it?
Cindy: Can...can I tell you that in private? Besides, I...*stands up* Your shirt is starting to slide off.
Shad: Oh yeah! Mommy, you said you had a hand-me-down for her.
Claire: Well, its rather old. Follow me Cindy, it's upstairs. *to Emily* And you. No more skort-ripping.
Emily: I never said I did it you know. *pouty face* Humph!
*Cindy follows Claire up the staircase, tightening the sleeve knots of her flimsy replacement garb until its discardment in a more private location. All the while, most of the rear is exposed; the panties hugging the posterior enough to show its figure. For some reason, Shad couldn't help but not avert his eyes. Emily noticed right away*
Shad: *blushes* I think those are getting a little too small...
Emily: I know what you're thinking. She acts all goody-two shoes but she does many bad things for attention. *giggles* definitely worked on you. You couldn't stop staring at her...
Emily: It's true!
Shad: Mommy just said that you did it. Why?
Emily: *frustrated sigh* Why do you keep asking these questions?! None of your beeswax!
Shad: Are you jealous because Cindy's smarter then you? Or maybe its because mommy gives her more attention. Wonder why?
Emily: I don't know. Why do you call her mommy instead of Claire?
Shad: She's my mommy, that's why. Mother sounds too...strong. She said I can call her whatever I want and since then I call her that. What do you call your mommy?
Emily: Humph! Who cares what I call her?! Why're you telling me all this anyway?
Shad: Heh, good question. I usually don't talk this much, what with being an only child and all.
Emily: You don't like being an only child?
Shad: Hehe. For as long as I can remember I kept telling mommy I wanted a little sister.
Emily: S...sister? What for?
Shad: No idea. Guess I usually don't talk to other students and mommy usually doesn't want to talk sometimes. Then there's the fact that when I'm with kids I usually feel...open. Still have no clue why that is though?
Emily: But you're a kid yourself, and a big one at that.
Shad: Well never mind what I want. Do you have another sibling?
Emily: Pffft! What's it to you?! Why am I even talking to you anyway?
Shad: Better then just sitting down until Cindy comes back downstairs.
Emily: Weird. He didn't even bother asking me about my burns yet. He kinda talks a little too much, but he's still weird. On a good way though. How? Who cares? I'm bored anyway. So...what would you want a little sister to be like? I don't care, just asking.
Shad: You sound like you care. *sits next to Emily* Hmm...she'd be about your age, about a little taller then you. Brown eyes and hair tied in pigtails with blue barrettes. She'd be sweet but also have a pouty side when upset, kinda like you. She'd also be the type of sister who would come to me if she needed help with her homework. Her nightwear can be the type that's a nightgown (perhaps a baby doll...I think), but sometimes she'd wear regular PJs; the kind where you button down the shirt? As for the day and stuff...I think she'd wear the same clothes you do.
Emily: You...you like this outfit?
Shad: Kinda. Makes you look cute.
Emily: Me? Cute? I thought you thought that Cindy's the cute one! You kept looking at her more!
Shad: That's because...*turns red*...well, I also found it a little strange that she has violet eyes. And last time she came here she just ran away when I mentioned my daddy's name.
Emily: What's his name?
Emily: Weird name. Why'd she run away because of that?
Shad: Yeah, why did she? Guess I oughta ask her when she comes down.
Emily: They're taking too long. *smirks* I have a better idea.
*Emily removes herself from the chair and makes her way to the staircase. At its first step, she starts to tip-toe in a stealthy fashion as she holds on to the banister. Not exactly knowing what she's up to, Shad follows her*
Shad: What're you doing?!
Emily: *scoffs* What does it look like, stupid?
Shad: You're not gonna eavesdrop, are you?
Emily: Um...heheh. What's that?
Shad: Cindy said she wanted to speak with mommy in private! We should respect that!
Emily: C'mon, what does she have to hide?
Shad: Um...how about we talk more? Cindy kinda seems a bit teary when I see her. She even kept staring at me when I got home.
Emily: *sing-song voice* Booooooooring! What, were you in your undies too?!
Shad: NO! I just...well, I just can't help but feel that she's hiding something. Maybe that's why she wants to speak with mommy alone. She needs her advice.
Emily: If you don't want to come then go back downstairs! We're almost at...
*before the top of the stairs is reached, that familiar, sharp, throbbing sensation stabs into Emily's wrists. Unfortunately for her, she happens to be keeping her balance via the banister at the time. As she quickly lets go due to the pain and steps back a little too far, the Asian tyke yelps, almost toppling down the stairs. Thankfully, Shad catches Emily in his arms before she meets a rather nasty fall*
Emily: *face flushed; surprised* Di...did you just...
Shad: Um...heheh. I think I did.
*despite the extra weight on his arms, Shad manages to make it to the top, but not without a few grunts here and there. When Emily is released, she does something rather unusual. She gets herself in a straight posture and bows*
Emily: *face still pink; voice softened* Th...thank you.
Shad: *confused* Huh? Why did you...
Emily: I would've broken something had you not saved me. *looks around the hallway* Which room is Claire in?
Shad: Why's her voice so different all of a sudden? Not that I mind, it's cute. She should be in the first door to your right, but I'm not sure if...
Emily: I need to ask her something. Something...important. Is it okay if you take me to her?
Shad: Emily, are you feeling okay? You didn't even want to speak with mommy a few minutes ago.
Emily: I don't know. I just want to talk with her now.
Shad: *looks at Emily's blistered wrists* You almost fell because of those. I think you need something to soothe them.
Emily: *shakes head* No. The ointment Claire uses is special.
Shad: Where do you think she keeps it? I'll even put it on for you! *takes Emily's hand* C'mon!
*Emily in hand, Shad dashes to the bathroom door near the end of the hall, the aforementioned girl trying to keep up. It isn't long until Shad stops in front of the restroom entrance*
Shad: Wait a sec, I won't be long.
*Shad opens the door. A little to quick really, since the speed of the door swinging smacks into Emily, toppling to the ground as her white panties come into view for a quick second. Shad enters the bathroom, shutting the door in the process. After that however, Emily's personality abruptly shifts once again. The face goes from pink to an almost pale white, the eyes narrow, and the voice retains that "whatever" tone*
Emily: Tsch! What am I doing here?! *looks to the opposite direction she came from* The room's that way.
*leaning against the wall, Emily slowly siddles against the wall in the same fashion Shad did a couple of days back. Despite the slow pace, it isn't long until she's about 3-5 inches away from the destined door. Strangely, it's open by just a small crack. More then enough for Emily to eavesdrop on whatever it is Cindy and Claire are conversing upon*
Cindy's voice: Shad I might tell, but Emily? Maybe we should keep her out of this.
Claire's voice: Consider this biased, but I for one don't think Emily is as bad as she wants us to think.
Cindy's voice: I know that. I know you told me what happened when you were speaking to her during time-out but...do you really think that Emily has...*pauses* Are you sure its wise to just let her know? She doesn't believe in Gifters.
Claire's voice: I'm not forcing you to tell her. I'm just giving you some reassurance. I have to warn you though, disclosing your Heart's Eye to others haphazardly may not be wise. At the very least, it depends on who you tell. As I see it, Emily isn't the type to spread things about.
Cindy's voice: I just hope the next time it shows itself it won't be around Emily. Her telling everyone isn't what I'm worried about. I'm just scared that she'll torment me even more when you're not around. Besides, I'm fine just knowing that you know.
Claire's voice: *sigh* If that's your decision...
Emily: YOU?! A Gifter?!
*without delay, the door swings open with such force that it hits the wall. Emily finally has a view of Claire and Cindy, the latter sitting on the bed and still not wearing anything below the waist save for the underwear. Numerous varieties of skirts are laid out on the bed, some of them wrinkled. All the while Emily can barely hold her joy in until...*
Claire: *fingers fanned out; hand covering face* Oh for the love of...
Emily: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAAAAHAAAAA!!! This...*catching her breath*...this is...*falls over due to holding her sides*...HAHAHAHA!! This is too...
*Emily can't even finish her sentence, much less half of it. As the laughter roars on, Cindy keeps on staring. First she's "de-skorted" and now this. The former was humiliating enough, having her panties looked upon by the entire class. But this...this was embarrassment on a whole different level. A situation like this would send her into a crying fit similar to the one just hours ago. The tears are starting to overflow, the face is bright red, yet something other then sadness is present. Claire senses this due to the slight gritting of Cindy's teeth and shaking of a clenched fist. Alas, before the woman can begin to at least try rectify all this...*
*Shad--still in the bathroom--is rummaging through the various medicine bottles in the mirror cabinet, looking for the designated ointment. He doesn't seem very focused, his mind once again lost in a sea of thoughts. In this case, he'd wondering how a minor...well, moderate save from a fall could cause such a sharp shift in Emily's personality. One second he was trying to convince her to get back to her seat. One save later and she's acting even more shy and fidgety then Cindy*
Shad: Aha! Found it!
*despite his lack of focus, Shad somehow finds the proper ointment necessary to null the pain emanating from Emily's possible ropeburn marks. The boy closes the cabinet but doesn't even open the door without hearing a loud, yet familiar sounding shriek*
Cindy's voice: GEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET OOOOOOOOOOOOUT!! GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT!!!
*right after that, Shad hears a thud, as if someone fell down. Hard. The instant he opens the door and exits the bathroom, he sees and hears things that, to an extent, sadden him. Near the staircase, opposite of Claire's room, he sees a certain recognizable Asian "Girl Scout" on the floor against the wall, her eyes widened in fear. Shad also hears quick gasps of air. Sobbing. Fervent, uncontrollable sobbing. The kind that makes one’s words sound almost incoherent. He can even hear those half-words mixed in with sputtering sobs, accompanied by a woman's pleas to calm down. Although Shad doesn't quite know what's going on, he rushes to Emily's aid*
Shad: *bends down* What happened?!
Emily: *voice softened once more* I...I...d...didn't do...a-a-a-any...
Cindy: LIAR!!! LIAR!!!
*Shad looks up and sees a morbidly distressed Cindy, who's in a worse state then before. Her eyes are saddening yet her teeth are gritted together. She fidgets, yet her fists are shaking as well. Even now many tears are still rolling off, the two violets overflowing with the salty liquid*
Emily: *quivering* I-I-I-I'm not a l-l-l-l-l-liar! *starts to cry herself*
Shad: Wh...what just happened?
Cindy: *screaming; barely slipping the words through her sobs* She...*cough*...called me A FREAK!!
Shad: A WHAT?! *to Emily* Is that true?!
Emily: *sobs* I...I didn't mean to! I just wanted to speak to Claire and...I'm....I'm so...so sorr...
Cindy: Go home! Just GO HOME!! You didn't WANT to be here, so JUST GO!!
Claire: Cindy PLEASE stop this! You don't understand!
Cindy: *still sobbing* Un...understand what?
Claire: Look at her closely! *points to Emily; still shaking and sobbing in fear*
Emily: I...I didn't do anything. I'm...I'm not a bad girl...not a bad girl...not a bad girl...
Cindy: Yes you are! You just...
Shad: Emily don't...
Emily: NOT A BAD GIRL!! EMILY NOT A BAD GIRL!!
*Emily dashes down the stairs, through the living room, and out the door as her cries still echo throughout the house. The abrupt and hasty leave didn't even give Shad nor Claire enough time to catch her*
Shad: *flabbergasted* Was she just speaking in third person?! We gotta go after her!
Claire: That won't do.
Shad: But she can't just...
Claire: Trust me Shad, that won't do.
Cindy: *comes to her senses* Wh...what did I...did I just scream at her?
Shad: Scream? You practically blew up in her face! Why did she call you a freak anyway?!
Claire: Cindy? Care to say something?
Cindy: *hesitant; still sobbing a little* Gifter. I'm a Gifter.
*before Shad starts to let this little surprise sink in, Cindy immediately glomps Claire, tears streaming from the eyes once more with her face buried in her stomach*
Cindy: *muffled* I'm sorry! I'm sorry!!
*there was no immediate response after that. Too many things were going on in Claire's mind. Acting as an Observer for Cindy; knowing of her Gift, the first session ending in disaster, and Emily's dramatic shift (or possible degrading) of personality. The teacher just didn't know what to say first*
*Cindy on the other hand, had no idea things would turn out like this. She recalls every time she cried, with most of the reasons due to the Heart's Eye, her previous (albeit minor) friends taken away, or a combination of the two. She felt like crying due to Emily's constant intimidations and bullying, but always kept it all bottled up. The child always wondered..."what if I picked on her for a change. See how she likes it" she sometimes thinks. And that's exactly what she's done*
*but her expected feeling of relief did not occur as she predicted. If anything, it made her feel worse, stooping down to Emily's level. In terms of how she normally behaves—and should behave—screaming off like that was beyond out of line. What she did was no better—worse even—then what Emily dishes out on a regular basis. Now she feels she isn't worthy of Claire's kindness; no longer deserving of her gentle, loving embrace. She feels she isn't worthy of Shad's knowledge, who at least tried to help her understand her power via speaking of the Gifter Theory. After what she did, she feels worthy of nothing*
*nothing at all*
End of chapter 10!