Disclaimer: 'Mutant X' and all of its characters belong to someone who isn't me.


Part I: Shalimar

She is always quiet.

Too quiet for a five year old.

She sits alone in the big classroom, seemingly oblivious to the chatter and laughter of the children around her.

They never ask her to join their games.

The teacher is worried about her. In the seven years that she has been teaching kindergarten, she has never encountered a child like this little girl, whose deep brown eyes seem to hold a thousand years of sorrow.

No child should have such eyes.

Her father's eyes are the same brown, like black coffee or dark chocolate. Hard and cold, they follow his daughter's every movement, like an eagle circling his prey, ready to pounce on her if she misbehaves. He always stays in the classroom after all the other parents have left, sometimes for only a few minutes, sometimes for as long as half an hour or more.

He never speaks.

He just watches her.

She listens carefully to any instructions the teacher gives her and follows them to the letter. She applies herself diligently to her work, her parents have already taught her to read and write, which places her ahead of her envious classmates. She spends hours poring over her meticulous schoolwork, determined to be perfect.

She is rarely satisfied with her efforts.

She is always immaculately dressed, perhaps a little too formally for school, in pretty white or pastel dresses, with white shoes and white lacy socks, a matching ribbon, tied in an elaborate bow, in her long blond hair.

She reminds her teacher of an illustration in an old-fashioned children's book.

Behind the carefully cultivated image of the perfect little girl, however, lies a spark of fire, which she always desperately tries to hide.

On her first day, one of her classmates, a rather chunky little boy who fancied himself to be a tough guy, the leader in class, teased her and pulled her hair, eliciting a scream of pain.

His mocking laughter was quickly cut short when she flew at him with an almost animalistic snarl, scratching his face and punching him, knocking him off his feet.

The sunlight streaming through the windows of the classroom must have been reflected in her eyes; for an instant, the teacher could have sworn that she saw them lit up with a golden fire.

Her father pulled her away, carrying her, still kicking and fighting, out of the room.

For a few minutes, the sound of his angry raised voice drowned out the other sounds in the classroom although nobody could make out his words.

Once she returned, the other children avoided her.

Since that day, her classmates have kept their distance, as if she were the carrier of a horrible, unknown disease. An invisible circle has been drawn around her, isolating her, defining her as an outsider, as different. Nobody is willing to break through that circle.

She spends most of her time gazing out the window, her eyes unfocused and dreaming, as if she can see something beyond the concrete playground and the weed-filled sports field.

If her teacher asks, she will participate in class activities, but without enthusiasm. She always sits apart, away from the other children.

The pictures she draws are always dark.



Author's Note: I am not sure how to classify this piece. All (serious) suggestions are welcome, as are reviews. No flames, please.