I took a deep breath and pulled down the door handle. Maybe this year would be different, maybe I wouldn't be expelled for the seventh time in eight years, and maybe I could break a personal record. Not likely, but maybe. Never really fitting in didn't help the fact, but this year I wouldn't need friends. My step-dad had said if you make it past sixth and seventh then maybe life will be easy. I think he meant grades in school, but he never really specified.
I shoved open the door; my first look at the classroom ruined my hopes for all of those maybes.
I hoped I had walked into the wrong classroom; maybe it was a sixth grade room, because it looked more like a kindergarten classroom. Picture-books lined the shelves, and pretty little pastel flower cutouts grew from the window sill. The desks made little clusters on the rainbow carpet floor.
It looked like a unicorn had puked up on the place; seriously, there was even a toy bin. I was just about to turn around and walk out of the daycare center, when a cheery voice called "Are you lost dear?"
I was considering ignoring her but, even if this wasn't right classroom maybe she could show me where to go. I turned around and smiled as pleasantly as I could.
"Where might I find room fifteen Ms. Valden's room?" I asked. Silently trying to decipher one of those cheery posters with motivational sayings that was plastered to the wall. It looked like it said 'If hall elves fail, give them detentions'. I honestly didn't think that I even got close. Usually I was pretty good at reading but dyslexia shredded words especially one in bright colors, and just my luck the poster was written in neon green. I later figured out that it said 'If all else fails, read the directions', I didn't like the hint of spite tucked into the saying. It suggested that people won't read the directions in the first place, which is the right thing to do, even I knew that.
"Dear, you're in the right place. I'm Ms. Valden. What's your name?" she asked reaching out to shake my hand.
I quickly shook her hand and let go, "I'm Lea."
"Hmmm. I wonder if they messed up on your schedule, because you seem a lot..." she paused to think for a second "Sharper. Than the other students I work with."
Like I hadn't heard that one before, either she was trying to build up my self-esteem or she had some seriously dumb students. I knew how to respond to this, I knew keeping my dyslexia and ADHD a secret didn't work well, I'd tried it before. I don't think that you could fit the number of times I had been called stupid on a normal calculator.
Other kids began filing in, at first it seemed some-what normal, until class began. Ms. Valden clapped her hands twice paused and then clapped three more times. The class repeated the action, I didn't. I want to be able to say that the last time I did that was fourth grade.
Also, the reaction was just sad. Some kids were overjoyed at the fact that they could make noises with there hands and started clapping really fast while staring in awe at there hands and laughing giddily. Worst of all, one kid had trouble understanding the concept of clapping and looked down at his hands, confused. I felt like jumping out of the garden scene window and taking one the smiley butterflies with me.
"Okay, children. Today we are going to be coloring our name tags, they're on your desk, make sure you color the one with your name on it and not someone else's."
She smiled a grin way too big for her face, as if somebody was pulling her cheeks back with tape, and she began to pass out boxes of crayons. Crayons? Seriously? So much for feeling like an eighth grader, I bet if I asked her for some colored pencils she would say "No, no, no way too dangerous." That meant sharpies were out of the question.
Next to me at a boy who seemed to be either deaf or really oblivious. He stared up at the ceiling fan fascinated by the blades as they spun slower than a broken amusement park ride. The girl diagonally across from me had strawberry blonde curls and when she got her crayons she began to just angrily break them in half. I wondered what she would break once she was finished with those twenty-four crayons. Across from me black haired boy was doing the same thing as me, staring at the creepy crayon breaking girl. He shook his head and muttered to himself, "Percy said I would like school. Wow. He was so wrong."
At least someone felt the same way as me. Something pelted me in the back of the head; I turned around to see a blond boy making airplane noises as he flung his crayons around the room. I muttered "Dude," and sighed dramatically.
I figured I would just have to ignore everyone around me. I began to sketch deep pink and purple poppies and lotuses. Our names were already printed on the small 4'' by 8'' cards. Usually I would have figured it was because of the student having handwriting too sloppy to read, I now guessed it was because some of the students didn't know how to spell their names or maybe even what there names are. After about an hour I finished, about eight different flowers, all either red, pink, purple, or magenta, my favorite colors, with yellow streaks on there petals. I filled in a dark blue backgrounds. By that time I had reduced the crayons to nubs or wax dust. I heard a quiet "Whoa." From across the table the black haired boy gaped at my name tag. His wasn't half bad either, just a bit, odd. His was black with a bunch of skulls, and two torches illuminating his name, Nico, in green light. I had no idea why the fire was green instead of the normal, red, orange, or yellow. Then he looked at me and his eyebrows rose. He said "Why are you in this class?"
I gave him a disgusted look and "I'm ADHD and Dyslexic. What about you?"
"Same," He said, staring at me as if I had just shoved a crayon up strawberry curls girl's nose.
The bell rang and Ms. Valden announced "Lunch time," Luckily everyone knew what that was.
I headed straight for the black top, it was partially shaded by a huge gym where kids got their lunch, it had trees on the other side that worked as a small barrier to the field which was reserved for the football players. I chose a picnic table in the shade and pulled out a huge bag of Sour Patch Kids. I lived off the little gummies. Sugar actually calms my brain, not hyper-activates it.
I sat there at the table thinking of that guy Nico; he acted as if he knew something about me that I didn't. Before I could get up the courage to ask him I felt a hand on my shoulder a voice washed with false concern rang out over the black-top. "OMG! I think year head is bleeding!"
I whipped around to see a girl in heels way to high to be even a little comfortable, what I like to call Fascinations, 'Foot-Assassinations', and a skin tight neon yellow tube-dress that just barely covered the girl's butt. A word that I'm not allowed to say flashed through my head.
Oh, and if your wondering, no my head wasn't bleeding, but if the girl kept talking to me like that, she'd be the one bleeding. She was only referring to the dark pink streaks in my hair. She sniggered evilly, but I just turned around and pulled out my sketch pad and began drawing scenes from my last night's nightmare.
It began with a cloaked woman, the cloak was coated in little glowing lights like stars.. Her black cape whipping in the wind. I couldn't see her eyes because they too, were covered in the black veil. All I could see of her face was a creepy, toothy grin; her skin, it looked really prehistoric and youthful at the same time.. She was a single man's worst nightmare. Her laugh shook the hillside, and the night sky began to fall slowly crushing me, as if the sky was eating me alive. I would take one last look at the stars twinkling above and every thing would go black. I never dreamed past that. I always woke up all hot and feverish and now days the dreams came every night each time becoming clearer and detailed. The more I dreamed it the faster the sky fell, one day it would just engulf me in a split second, it was as if every time it swallowed me, it got stronger and waited for the next time.
I don't know exactly why I drew it, but to me, it helped, it seemed like every time I drew in one more detail that I remembered, another would appear, just like another piece to the puzzle. I began to sketch in the miniscule lights that were embroidered on the black veil. From behind me the girl said "Hey loser, are you gonna fight back or are you just going to accept how lame you are."
I didn't bother turning around, all this girl wanted was attention but I did say "You're not worth my time."
She scoffed and laughed lightly "No you're lucky I wasted my time even noticing you." And she walked her heels clicking the whole way, back to her friends.
The rest of the school day went on peacefully; in Ms. Valden's class we finished our names tags. The boy, Nico, had obviously ditched because he was absent for the rest of the day. Nothing much happened; I just wasted the next three hours drawing the little stars, on my now extremely detailed drawing of the veiled woman. My mom picked me up from school in my step-dad's little sparkly black Toyota. Yeah, that's about as manly as my step-dad gets.
My mom did the usual, "How was your first day of school?"
I just stared out the car window, and waited to get home. It was only about a fifteen minute drive. My mom understood that I felt like a freak, and I didn't want to bother her with the fact that school was going to be torture this year. She was already too busy with her full time job. My family wasn't very close, so conversations were brief and true feelings were never expressed. I'd rather have it that way; I'm a good kid with bad luck.
When we got to our house, a large pale blue two story with a huge backyard, I slung my messenger bag back pack over my shoulder and walked slowly inside as my mom rushed past, talking about new houses foreclosing, to her boss. If you couldn't guess, my mom's a real-estate agent and my dad owns a publishing firm, so we're not limited on money, but time seems to be the only thing we can't buy. When I walked into the kitchen my dad looked up at me and asked "How was it? Did the special class seem different?"
"Yeah, I think it's a Special Ed. Class." I said looking at the binder's had brought to school that if everyday was like today, would become art portfolios.
"What do you mean?" he asked. He did seem genuinely concerned.
I liked my step-dad he was better than most dad's. We did have a good father-daughter relationship. I was actually more comfortable talking to him than my mom. He was cool, with his casual clothes, and dark brown hair, and sporty but professional look. He gave me a pitiful gaze.
"I'm in with people who can't even spell there own names, instead of being the freak because of disabilities, I'm now a freak because of how minor they are." I sighed.
My step-dad, Henry, brushed his hand through his hair and was about to say something when he was interrupted. In the distance I could hear the delightful music of an Ice Cream Truck blaring through a megaphone. Henry smiled and pulled out his wallet "Nothing a little ice cream can't solve." He handed me five bucks and I rushed out the door. I spotted the tiny little stars and stripes truck coming down the street and walked to the side walk. When it got to me, the woman sitting in the front seat asked "Well what would you like sweetie?"
I looked at the different sticker's that made up the menu. I decided to go simple with a scoop of mint chip ice cream. She smiled a toothy grin and disappeared for a second. Then she leaned out the window and held out the ice cream. I fumbled for the five dollar bill in the back of my hot pink Jean's pocket. I was just about to hand it to her when I looked at the ice cream. It was steaming and half melted. I watched in awe as it slowly dripped onto the pavement, soon it was nothing but bubbling mint milk. I looked up at the woman. Her face had twisted into a hideous smile, sharp stubby teeth, and her eyes glowed like cinders. "Isss there sssomething wrong ssweetie?"
I gaped at her. She cackled evilly and dropped the ice cream onto the pavement where it began to eat away at the pavement like acid.
"Ohh, ssso you can sssee me in my true form?"
A shriek escaped my lips and I stumbled backwards landing on the wet lawn. I scrambled back. The demon lady ripped the door off the truck. She stepped onto the pavement, no slithered, onto the pavement. Her lower half was like that of a snake but it was huge, as if she was wearing giant snake skin over her legs. Her hair had little bits of fire in it, illuminating her ugly, gnarled face. Suddenly from behind me an arrow flew past. If lodged itself into her shoulder. She looked at it and pulled it out, more aggravated than wounded.
"Catch" I heard. From behind me, I whipped around and my arm flung out automatically and caught a long bronze knife. I don't know how I caught it but it was instinctual. I heard a hiss, and when I turned back around the demon was almost on top of me, she loomed over me casting a shadow onto my face. She had to be at least ten feet tall. I closed my eyes and my arm thrust forward, when I opened my eyes again the demon lady was disinagrating right in front of me. I had stabbed her in the stomach, with out even trying. I dropped the bronze knife and took a deep breath.
From behind me Henry's voice called out "Lea, are you alright?"
If being attacked by a demon she-monster was his idea of alright, then yes. He came up behind me and gave me a hand up. The second my vision cleared I noticed he had an archer's bow in his hand. "Wha…" I said but was cut-off by another voice.
"Who are you?" I turned to see the black haired boy, Nico, pick up the bronze knife that I dropped. He blew off the monster dust and wiped it on his black shirt.
Henry looked at him skeptically "Henry Reclin. Who are you?"
Nico glared at him with deep brown eyes "Nico Di Angelo. Son of Hades."
"Hades, like that Greek god of the underworld." I asked my brain racing faster than a stopwatch. I seriously needed some sugar, began to consider licking the ice cream goo off the ground, the pavement couldn't be that dirty. Then I looked at the smashed cone, the pavement was bubbling and oozing. Nevermind.
"Exactly," replied Nico. He acted like this was all completely normal. He turned to Henry and said "You're not mortal, are you?"
How could my step-dad not be mortal? But two minutes ago I had just blasted a she-monster to bits, so anything was possible.
"No, I'm a son of Apollo, god of poetry, healing, and music." Said Henry, I was about ready to pass out from brain overload.
"I met your dad a few years back." Said Nico casually.
"Really? That must have been interesting. I hear he's quite a character." Said Henry eyebrows raised.
I watched the scene like an intense tennis match, my head going back and forth from each person who was speaking.
"What are you two talking about?" I yelled, crumpling back onto the grass.
Henry looked down at me with sad eyes "Lea, you are a demi-god. Soon, if we don't get you to safety, more monsters like Lamia will be after you."
"Lamia?" I exclaimed.
"A child eating daemon. And judging by this-," Nico crouched down over the Ice Cream spill, which had eaten a hole in the pavement, "She would poison the children, and then eat them."
"Nico, I trust you. Get Lea to camp half blood as quickly as possible. Lea, I'll explain to your mother." He hugged me and said "Good Luck."
Nico turned to me and said "You ever shadow traveled before?"
"Then your in for the ride of your life." He said. He grabbed my hand and ran straight towards a brick wall. I prepared myself to watch him slam into it. But instead he passed right through it, taking me with him.