I woke up the next day and, lo and behold, it hadn't been a dream. It was hard to choose between laughing and getting freaked out at the situation.
I bit my lip and, grabbing a comb, set about trying to fix things.
Clipping my hair back from my forehead managed to hide the growths on my head, and coiling the tail like a cord let me tuck in into my pants.
It was horribly uncomfortable, but at least the pain was gone.
The pain was so not gone.
I dug my nails into my sleeve, feeling the dull throbbing in my head again. It wasn't nearly bad as the night before, but it wasn't anything pleasant.
"Miss Shah, would you care to answer the question?"
My mind drew a blank as I looked up, blinking at the teacher as he smiled with malicious glee.
I swear teachers have this obsession with catching people off-guard. It drives me nuts.
If it was any ordinary day, I would have stuttered an apology but I felt a tingling in my spine that stopped me.
"No, sir. No I wouldn't."
The class, most of which was asleep moments ago, drew in a collective breath of excitement.
This is it! I could swear the nerdy kid in the front was thinking, She's busted!
The teacher's face took on a blank expression, and he nodded like a robot. A second later he called on the nerdy kid who had wanted me to get roasted, and I smirked with satisfaction.
I had no idea what had just happened, but it. was. amazing. Clearly the universe was trying to make up for the weirdness that was taking over my life.
Apology accepted, celestial beings. Keep it coming.
The rest of the class I did whatever I wanted and the teacher didn't pick on me once.
But, as the day ended and I got up to leave, one of my few friends (okay, my only friend) in the class came up to me and announced she was walking home with me.
As soon as we were a considerable distance from the school, she looked at me with curiosity.
"Can you do it again?"
I raised an eyebrow.
"Do what again?"
She made hand gestures as if to compensate for her lacking language.
"That...eye thing. When Mr. Sikes was asking you something and your eyes turned black? Was it lenses or some kind of coloured eye drops?"
I felt my insides churn.
"Black? My eyes?"
Miranda nodded eagerly.
"You know I'm into special effects. Gimme a demo."
Okay, maybe the day wasn't going as well as planned.
"Um...I have to go." I said suddenly, quickening my pace, "Like, now."
Miranda walked faster to catch up with me, but before she could the universe chose then to send my tail slipping out a hole in my jeans, letting it wave contentedly as I groaned.
I wore those jeans of all jeans. The ones that I'd tossed on the floor in the 'mend' pile? Yeah.
"Oh my god." she stopped, staring, "You...are a master! Is that remote-controlled?"
I get that she was a blonde and all, but Miranda was a little too clueless for her own good.
"Yeah. It is. But...I...can't talk about it. It's...for a...secret project."
After that I let out an uneasy breath, impressed with myself. I'd never been able to lie before.
"Wow, that's so cool! Don't worry, I won't tell anyone!"
She didn't realize just how important that was. I continued my little charade until I reached my house, and quickly ducked in through the front door.
I had just tucked my tail back to its hiding place when my mom walked into the room, smiling.
"Zdrasti, sweetie!" she chirped, "I've got some soup on the stove, if you're hungry!"
Now would be a good time to mention...My mom is crazy about the whole 'cultural' experience. She tries to learn languages simultaneously, and mixes cuisines in a way that I can only describe as...interesting. I don't mind her testing her languages on me, since it means I don't understand her when she's nagging.
"Thanks." I replied, following the smell of food to the pot of boiling soupiness.
I promptly ladled out some for myself, and took a sip. It was pretty good, but it wasn't that hot at all. In fact, it needed something.
I fished the hot sauce from the closet and emptied half of it into the bowl.
I chugged the rest of the soup, turning to see my mother staring at me in horror.
"Zara, that soup was scalding hot! You must have burned yourself!"
"Actually, it's kind of cold." I chuckled, getting stared at some more.
"You added hot sauce?!" she asked incredulously, "Last I checked, you couldn't stomach a bell pepper!"
I rolled my eyes.
"This hot sauce isn't even that hot."
She looked at me a second before sighing.
"That's the same sauce that nearly gave your grandfather a heart attack, remember?"
Oh. Yeah. The crisis of '03. We don't talk about it much.
"Maybe it went bad or something." I offered, chuckling nervously.
"Of course." she replied, her eyes narrowed, "I'll have to replace it."
With that I retreated to my room, wondering why my tastes were changing so suddenly.
Something was going on. Something big. And, until I found out what...
We were going to need a hella lot more hot sauce.