Different

They treat me differently, just because I'm not the same as them.

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2. One: Three Years Earlier

Seven pairs of eyes are staring at me.

I wonder if they know I'm awake. They've been staring at me for almost five minutes, that I know of. The strength of their eyes on me woke me up, and I went rigid and almost screamed. But I bit down on my cheek and stopped myself just in time. A little squeal escaped, but I was able to disguise it as a snore. My older sister Selena had smirked, and started to whisper something to my older brother Nathaniel, but was shushed by my mother and father, in unison. The three other pairs of eyes belonged to Selena's twin, Owen, my grandmother, and a man I didn't recognize.

I glanced up at the clock, ignoring the excruciating pain the motion lit in the front of my brain. It read 11: 56. Oh, I thought, relieved, they're just here to say "Happy Birthday", right?

It was my birthday in exactly three minutes and some seconds.

I was turning twelve.

For most families, the teenage years are extremely important, and so your thirteenth birthday. But in my family, we've always done things a little differently. So for us, it's twelve.

Most kids dream of that one day where they get to know all the secrets their parents have been holding over their heads for who knows how long; that age when "We'll tell you when you're older," no longer applies.

For me, that age was in a few minutes.

The clock changes to 11:59. I countdown in my head, dreaming up how I'll have to scream and act surprised and like I just woke up when they yell, "Happy Birthday!"

5..4...3...2...1. The clock changes.

"It's happening..." Owen breathes. "It should happen," Selena clarifies.

And nothing happens.

No "happy birthday," no surprised (fake) scream, nothing.

The clock changes to 12:01, oblivious to the disappointment it is bringing. Disappointment to me, because the reason seven people are in my room on my birthday isn't to surprise me, and disappointment to the seven people, for some unknown reason.

"Maybe she's just a late bloomer," my mother said. "We can try again tomorrow night."

"Or maybe she's not one of us," Selena hissed.

My parents whirl on her. "NEVER SAY THAT." My mother takes a step closer. "About your family, no less."

They all glance nervously at me, except Selena, who is examining her nails like she couldn't care less if I woke up.

I take that as my cue to restlessly turn over in bed.

"Same thing tomorrow night," the strange man says to my mother. "Maybe it will happen then."

I stayed up to watch them watch me. It didn't happen that night, or the next night, or the next.

The only person that still stays up is my mother, and her only a few nights. The rest of us have gotten used to being disappointed.

I'm disappointed. They're disappointed. I was supposed to be special.

But I'm not.

 

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