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Jackie And Jill: Introductions
by Rodford Edmiston
This story is set in the Fall of 2005
The class quieted to a murmur as the teacher closed the door. Even that faded when she turned and went to the desk. Mrs. Jensen lifted the roster, adjusted her glasses, unconsciously cleared her throat, and began calling roll. There were the usual absences and smart-alecs. Most of the students were regulars, at this school for the second or more years, but two were strangers to her. Oddly, both were physically unusual; one being small, Asian and having white hair, the other large for this group, and dark haired, with joined eyebrows. Both looked uncomfortable.
"It's Jackie," the large girl replied, flatly.
There was some giggling at this from the regulars, who knew what was coming. Mrs. Jensen looked over her glasses, first at the class as a whole to bring quiet and then at the girl.
"'Here,' or 'present' are the correct replies," the teacher said, firmly. She looked around at the class again. "If you wish to be called by a nickname tell me during recess. I will use your nickname in class if it is a reasonable one, but for the role your proper name will be used."
A few names later and the other newcomer responded.
"Jillian Metu," Mrs. Jensen called.
"Here," called the white-haired girl, raising her hand.
Mrs. Jensen finished the role, walked around behind her desk, put the roster down and addressed the group.
"This is your homeroom class," she told them. "You will come here at the first bell, every morning of school. I am your homeroom teacher, and some of you will also have me for History."
Most of the students looked bored, especially Jackie. For some reason, Jill seemed rapt, and even had a slight smile on her face. Mrs. Jensen continued through her usual spiel, timing things so that she finished just before the bell. Most of the students immediately jumped up and hurried out, not because they were anxious to get to their next class but to use the restroom, visit their lockers, gossip, or all three. Jill seemed to start, then she shook her head and rose slowly, looking sad. Mrs. Jensen watched her walk out, feeling puzzled.
Jill waited until nearly the next bell, then hurried into the girls' room. The other girls in there were finished and getting ready to leave, but some of them lingered, enjoying their freedom until the last moment. Jill, looking neither right nor left, stepped quickly into the nearest empty stall. She did her business, and was just pulling her skirt back into place when the bell rang. She hurried out, washed her hands, and ran to the next class, much more relieved to have avoided contact than she was anxious about being late. Fortunately, the teacher didn't seem concerned about her being a few seconds tardy. As Jill sat the big girl - Jackie - sauntered in and walked to the rear of the classroom, where she casually flopped into her seat, slumped and with legs splayed. The teacher began calling the roll.
After that class came recess. Jill trailed at the rear of the swarm, turning away from the gymset and heading directly for some small shade trees in the side yard. She sat on the weathered mulch at the base of one tree, knees up against her chest, arms wrapped around herself. Slowly, a slight smile spread across her face. For long minutes she just sat there, lost in her private world. Then a shadow fell over her. Her distraction, plus the noise of the other children, had kept her from noting the approach of four older girls. They smiled down at her, but their expressions weren't friendly.
"Hey, what are you doing over here?" one of them asked, accusingly.
Jill, after a brief glance up at them, looked away, and kept silent. Maybe if she ignored them they'd get bored and leave.
"Hey, she asked you a question," said another girl.
Still she kept quiet, hoping against hope that they'd just go away.
"Maybe she can't talk," said still another girl. "Maybe she's a retard."
"I'm not a retard," said Jill, quietly, still not looking at them.
"Well, I say you are a retard," snickered the first girl. "Sitting over here, smiling like you're doped or something. I bet your mother's a junkie and you're a retard."
"Retard! Retard!" the girls began chanting.
Jill jumped up and tried to run.
"Leave me alone!" she screamed.
One of the bigger girls grabbed her arm and yanked her back, throwing Jill roughly to the ground. Jill hit hard; a jolt of pain went up her left arm.
Jill bit her lip, trying hard to hold back, but she felt the power well up inside her...
"Why don't you retards pick on somebody your own size?"
There was a two-beat of dead silence. Then the girls whirled as one, to stare at the newcomer.
"Hey, mind your own business," snapped the first girl, apparently the ring leader.
"This is my business," said Jackie. "She's in my homeroom."
"Yeah, like that gives you the right," sneered the fourth girl, the largest, taller than even Jackie.
She stepped forward and shoved at Jackie's shoulder. Jackie turned away, reaching out to catch the larger girl by the arm and the back of the head. Number Four landed two meters away, and started screaming. Jackie turned back to the remaining three, smiling.
There was another two-beat pause. Then the three girls ran, leaving Number Four behind. She must not have been as badly injured as her cries of pain had indicated, because - upon seeing her friends deserting her - she jumped up and ran after them.
"My hero!" said Jill, laughing.
"Heroine," said Jackie, reflexively.
"That's a sexist and obsolete word," said Jill, with the conviction only a child can possess.
Jackie stared at her for a moment, than laughed. She plopped down beside the smaller girl.
"I'm impressed," said Jill. "Those were eighth graders. Of course, you look like a fifth grader. You must have been held back."
"Is that any way to talk to someone who just saved your life?" said Jackie, raising a heavy eyebrow. "I'm big for my age, and I was born late in the year."
"And you were held back," said Jill, firmly.
"And I was held back," Jackie sighed. "It's not like I'm stupid or anything. I just get bored easily."
"Yeah," sighed Jill, "me, too."
"You made yourself a target, you know," said Jackie, lying back on the grass with her head in her hands. "You make a point of avoiding people, so they make a point of pestering you."
"Look at me," said Jill, quietly. "I've got white hair and I'm half Japanese. I'm gonna be picked on no matter what I do. And I can't stand being around people like that."
"That why you're here?" Jackie asked, turning to look at her. "This school is sorta the unofficial home of the 'problem kids.' I'm here because I don't like people like that, either, only I'm big enough and mean enough that I win the fights. 'Course, that means that means they put me here with the worst of the kids who caused me to be here."
"Not exactly," said Jill, quietly, harkening back to the initial question.
She sighed, closed her eyes, and a tear squeezed out from under each lid. Jackie watched, and waited to see if she would continue.
"You don't have to tell me," said Jackie, casually, after a few moments.
"I sorta drove a couple of kids and a teacher crazy."
"Oh." Jackie frowned. "That sounds familiar. Some story my dad tells about a guy he knows, when he was a kid. When the guy was a kid, I mean."
The bell rang, and children began wandering unenthusiastically back towards the building.
"Looks like we better head in," sighed Jackie. Both girls rose and began walking slowly. "I really wish my dad didn't think I needed to socialize with hu... people."
"Mine, too," sighed Jill. She grinned impishly up at Jackie. "Don't worry. I know about werewolves."
Jackie stumbled, almost falling. She recovered, looking straight ahead, very angry.
"I'm not a werewolf," she growled, not very convincingly.
"No, it's okay," said Jill, hurrying in front of her and stopping. "Watch."
She looked quickly around, then grinned again, and changed. Jackie gasped as a white-coated fox girl with multiple tails stood in front of her.
"You're not a werewolf," blurted Jackie, though in a stage whisper.
"I'm a kitsune," said Jill, proudly. "That's..."
"I know what that is," said Jackie. She frowned, then looked surprised.
"That's why your driving people crazy was familiar! You're How and Tina's daughter!"
"You know them?" said Jill, startled. "Oh, wait. I get it. You're Bent-Tail's girl. Which means you are a werewolf."
"Maybe," said Jackie, shifting uneasily. "There's about one chance in three in my family. I won't know until puberty."
Jill started to say something, but Jackie suddenly stepped between her and the school.
"Yes, Ma'am!" she called, waving to a teacher at the building. "We're coming!"
"My hero, again," giggled Jill, shifting back human. "Y'know, this looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
"Do you always talk like a movie?"
"Sometimes," said Jill, brightly. "Sometimes I talk like a book. Sometimes I talk like a TV show. Sometimes..."
"Oh, boy," sighed Jackie, but she smiled as she said it.
This story is Copyright 2000 by Rodford Edmiston Smith. Contact the author for permission to repost or reprint, at: firstname.lastname@example.org.