There's a strange sort of mystery to some kids. You know the ones - they sit at the back of the class, silent and grim and moody, writing poetry that's never good enough to please themselves with.

I wasn't one of those kids.

I envied the ones who were. They were left alone, sometimes admired from a distance by the girls who thought there was some sort of Byronic romantic hidden under their dark exterior. They stood out because they didn't want to fit in. I stood out because I couldn't fit in if I tried.

Mister Steath had done his best with me, I knew. I had been cleaned and clothed, and he'd even made a brave attempt to teach me etiquette. I struggled with reading and writing, much as I enjoyed stories. Words didn't flow on the page the same way they rolled off the tongue, no matter how hard I attempted to place sounds to symbols. I could understand people well enough when they were talking, even with their strange accents, but written words made no sense to me. I guessed that was why he'd sent me to boarding school, having failed to teach me himself.

I took it as part of the curse. The written word was something of this world, not mine - not the world I'd known, the world I'd fallen from. That world was built on rooftops and chimneys, strange names and stranger tales. This world was built on the ground. Because of that, I would never fit in.

I tried, of course. I kept my hair closer to its supposedly 'natural' red-brown than the muddy colour I had grown used to. I got used to walking on two feet and pretending to be afraid of heights like the other kids. Gym class was the worst - tripping over myself when I had to race any of the others, trying to act as though a rope hanging from the ceiling was difficult to climb.

I'd been told not to draw attention to myself, in case word reached the Climbers that I'd survived the fall. The Fallen weren't meant to survive. Fortunately, nobody seemed to pay much attention to me. I was just another newcomer to the school, stumbling my way around corridors I didn't know yet. One boy didn't stand out much from the rest.

The End

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