“We’re not ready for this,” Emma said. Anna looked at her over at her, slumped in her chair. They were sitting in their form-room. It was early in the morning and nobody else was in yet. Anna was sitting a little uncomfortably in her own chair, wings spread out so that they didn’t knock into anything. She’d had to cut holes into the back of her uniform to let the wings through.
“We’re ready,” Anna said with a smile.
“How can you be so calm?” Emma growled, “do you seriously understand what is about to happen? Imagine your parents’ reaction, then multiply it by twenty.”
“It was a surprise for my parents,” a frown darkened Anna’s expression, “not for these guys.”
“No,” Emma stood up and started to pace, “because you decided that it would be a smart idea to post the fact that you now have super-human powers on social media. Exactly how many trolls have you attracted.”
“I don’t know,” Anna shrugged, “I haven’t checked. I’m trying to stay positive.”
“You’re making it hard for me too,” Emma said, sinking back into a chair.
Before either of them could say anything more the door behind Anna burst open and three girls rushed in. Immediately they spotted Anna and ran over to her.
“Oh Anna!” Cried Lizzy, the leader of the gaggle, “are you alright? We heard what happened! How awful for you.”
Pulling up chairs they all gathered around Anna with cries of ‘aww’ and ‘are you alright babe.’ Emma watched, speechless. As she did so a group of boys walked into the form-room. They glanced over at Anna and continued their conversation, apparently oblivious.
Behind the boys Lydia stepped into the classroom. They parted like the red sea and glared at her as she passed through them. Catching Emma’s eyes Lydia nodded before going to sit down at the other end of the room.
It was then that a tiny bit of Emma snapped.
Standing up she walked over to Anna. Grabbing her own chair she sat down next to Lizzy. She smiled.
“How about you Emma?” Lizzy turned to her, “How are you dealing with it.”
Emma put her head to one side and pretended to consider things for a few moments.
“Oh I’m fine,” she said, “actually, Lizzy, I have a question for you. Primarily, what the hell are you doing?”
Lizzy smiled and blinked, not sure what was happening.
“-uh- what do you mean?”
“I mean,” Emma looked bored, “why is it that when a friend of yours suddenly out of the blue gains super-human powers you don’t seem to mind, but when you discover that you’re sitting next to a lizard person in your maths class you spend three hours making stupid hate posts about her online?”
There was a silence. All of the girls were looking at Emma now. A smile was slowly spreading across Anna’s face and she gave Emma a covert thumbs up.
“That’s different-” Lizzy started to say. Emma interrupted her.
“Is it?” She said, “Maybe you’re right. Maybe its because, let’s face it, a pair of wings is completely harmless. Whereas a lizard person, or I don’t know a psychic or maybe a phaser, they could really hurt you if they put their mind to it, right?”
“Yeah,” Lizzy looked a little relieved. The other girls all nodded in unison and mumbled ‘yes’ or ‘sure’ under their breaths.
“Well,” Emma continued, “if you think they’re dangerous what would you say about something like… let’s say… something like this.”
Raising her hand, she ignited it. It took a few seconds for her audience to register what was going on. When they did they simultaneously shrieked, scrambling away from Emma in a tangle of limbs and flailing legs. Anna had to grab hold of the table behind her to prevent herself being knocked off her chair. Emma stood up. The entire room had fallen silent.
“Alright,” Emma looked around, “listen up, you morons, because I’m only going to say this once. I’m pretty angry. It may not look like it, but I am. Angry at your stupid double standards, angry at your dumb prejudices. Come on guys, we’re supposed to be better than older generations, we’re supposed to be more free-thinking, less discriminatory. So here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to stop treating super-humans like they might explode and you’re going to stop fawning over a pair of stupid wings like they’re somehow different. Oh, and for your information, they’re not harmless. If Anna wanted to she could knock you unconscious with one of those things.”
Pausing briefly, Emma looked around. Complete silence continued to reign.
“Where was I. Oh yeah. So here’s the deal. You lot are going to just stop it, alright? Stop the stupidness, stop being scared and hateful and hurtful just because of what someone might do to you.”
Emma stopped, out of breath. From the direction of the door there came a slow hand-clapping sound. Eyes turned. Standing in the doorway Miss Finch beckoned to Emma.
“Ms Wilson,” she said, “perhaps you and I should have a chat. Outside. Now.”
Emma nodded and walked over to the door. As she left the room she turned and fixed the entire class with a death glare.
When the door shut Anna looked over at Lydia, who had taken out a small pot of buffalo worms and was eating them one by one.
“Hey Lydia,” she said, “get over here, you were telling me about that film you saw last week, what was it called?”
A little surprised, Lydia stood up and walked over to them slowly.
“-um- it was -uh-,” she found her nervous stammer creeping into her voice. Anna smiled encouragingly, “Alpacalypse two: llamageddon I think?”
“Right,” Anna nodded, “with Steve Denver, right? Hey Lizzy, you’re a fan of Steve Denver aren’t you?”
Lizzy, who had scrambled back up onto her chair, looked up at Lydia, wide-eyed. Then she nodded slowly.
“Yes,” she said quietly, “I am. The first Alpacalypse film is great…”
“Well,” Lydia accepted the chair Anna proffered, “llamageddon is -uh- pretty good too. Steve is -um-”
“Hot?” Lizzy nodded, “I bet.”
“I was going to say an excellent actor,” Lydia shrugged, “but yeah, sure, that too.”
The girls all laughed. Lydia laughed with them.