“Perfect! You look lovely, Mother”
“You don’t think the pose was too much?”
“Not at all.”
Verixe let her hand fall back down to her side and groaned as her back creaked.
“I think I’m getting a bit old for this.”
“Well, that was the last one.”
“Thank goodness. I’m going to go and lie down for a bit.”
Lissa watched Verixe as she made her way up the stairs and into the house. It was probably because of all the swimming she did yesterday, but she couldn’t help feeling a pang of worry. She packed up her photo studio and began to carry the pieces back inside. At least she had a photo for her wall, now. She just needed to get a new one of Lor at some point.
Lor would have been glad to have posed for a photo right that minute, had he been asked. It would have removed him from the conversation he was currently having.
“… so that’s what can happen when two people love each other very much.”
Morgan looked at her son, who thankfully seemed just as embarrassed as she was. No wonder her mother had waited so long to give her the talk – this was excruciating. Maybe she should have waited a while.
No, she decided. Better to get it over and done with.
“Right. Thanks for that, mum. I’m going to go wash my brain out now.”
Verixe looked up from her book . She heard the clumping of footsteps and the soft -click- of a shutting door. Then came the whimpering.
She got up and walked over to his room. She hovered, wondering whether to knock until a low groan came from inside. She knocked once and then opened the door, not bothering to wait for a response.
“Lorcán? What are you doing?”
Lor muttered something under his breath and turned over.
“What did you say?”
He peeked his head out from under the covers and repeated “I’m hiding.”
“You aren’t doing a very good job. The second rule of hiding is not to be heard.”
“Grandmaaaaaaaa~” he groaned, burying his head under his pillow.
“Ok, Ok. I’m leaving.”
“What’s wrong with him?”
“He’s ‘hiding’, apparently.”
“That’s strange. Morgan is doing the same.”
One cringe attack and 10 laps of the pool later, Lor was feeling more like his old self. The texts he kept getting from Clay were helping, too. Starting at his new school seemed less scary with the promise of a familiar face. They were meeting this afternoon to help him figure out his schedule.
When Clay arrived, those plans went out the window. That was not the face of a happy man. It took Lor a few seconds to realise that the anger wasn’t directed at him – still, it was unnerving.
“Are you ok?”
“Do I look like I’m ok?”
Lor’s mind was racing. He’d never had to deal with anyone in this state before, and he had no clue how to help.
Clay sighed in frustration at the panic on Lorcán’s face. “No, I’m not ok. Stupid teachers and their stupid grading systems.”
Ah, Lor thought. School troubles. That was… reassuring?
“I was only five minutes late handing that essay in, but they marked me down for it. My parents aren’t gonna let me hear the end of it.”
Lor looked around for something to distract him with, and then it came to him. He grabbed the other boy’s hand and pulled him down to the ground.
Clay looked at him in disbelief. That had not been what he’d expected.
“That one over there looks like a freezer-bunny” Lor said, then turned to his friend, hope written across his face.
“You are such a weirdo.” Clay said, shaking his head before settling onto the ground. “I guess that one kinda looks like a shark.”
“So, is your friend feeling better?”
Lor looked up and smiled, before returning his gaze to the screen in front of him.
“He is. He’s just washing his face, then he’ll come and say hi.”
They sank into a comfortable silence, broken only by the tapping of the phone.
“Yes! I got the job!”
Verixe raised her eyebrows. “A job? But you’re so young.”
“Got to start earning early nowadays. Besides, I’ve found some really great things for the house online.”
“You haven’t ordered them yet, have you?”
“No, don’t worry. But once my first paycheck comes in I will.”
“Lor, love. You don’t need to worry about money, yet. Look at this house! Your mama built this, and she started her life here without a penny to her name. You can relax.”
Lor was about to respond with all the information his home design research had unearthed when Clay walked in, effectively distracting them both.
“Sorry about that. I’m feeling much better now. Who’d have guessed that clouds were so relaxing.”
Lor smiled in relief. If it hadn’t worked, he’d have been completely stuck. He got up to get an extra slice of cake for his guest, but as the door shut behind him trouble began to brew. Clay noticed Verixe.
The door opened violently, almost hitting him in the face. Lor stumbled slightly, but he managed to keep the plate he was carrying steady enough to avoid making a mess. What on earth?
Lor looked at the man in front of him in shock. He looked around quickly , and seeing Verixe go outside he dragged Clay back into the dining room.
“Ok, so what’s the issue?”
“The issue?! The issue is that there is a plumming alien in your house.”
“Well, yes. She’s my grandmother.”
“What’s she doing here?!”
“She doesn’t belong here.”
Lorcán felt something begin to build inside him, unfamiliar and terrifying.
“Well if you hadn’t noticed I am part alien, too! Why did you even talk to me if you hate us so much?”
“You’re at least part like us.”
Ah, Lor thought, that’s what this feeling is. He gave into it, adrenaline crashing over him in a wave.
“Part like you?! Is that the only part that is worth anything to you? Is that why you accepted me?”
“Well, yeah! I mean, at least you have normal eyes. Their eyes are weird, man. You have to have noticed.”
“I have blue skin!”
“But you’re still human unlike that freak!”
“How dare you?! She’s a thousand times the person you’ll ever be.”
“She’s probably abducted that many people, so it wouldn’t surprise me. Look man, I thought you were cool despite the blue-ness. Why can’t you just accept that.”
The heat cooled down into a cold fury.
“This isn’t worth it,” Clay said. “If you side with them, I guess you aren’t the person I thought you were.”
“Well, I’m beginning to think that’s a good thing.”
Lor stood up, looking away.
“I think you should leave.”