Next to Me
Nova was only ten when she had to move to the Japanese countryside due to her parents' work. She was a brunette, blue-eyed child of two blondes, so she frequently got mistaken as "someone else's child".
Even though she knew that, she sometimes couldn't help but feel it was indeed true, and the Asians around her would point out her eye colour every time she would try to associate with them, including when she went to school. No matter how much she tried to speak English or Japanese to them, they would rebuff her.
Had this been a Western country, she would not have had this trouble. She could have even been called "beautiful" in another life.
Unfortunately, that was not her universe.
As she wandered across a gravel path one day while taking a route she'd never been on before, the rocks crunched under her yellow sandals. Just when she started to find comfort in the lonely noises, a wooden building (a traditional Japanese house) she'd never seen before came into view.
A dark-haired child - if she tilted her head a little, she could discern this androgynous, short-haired child in the red shirt and shorts was in fact a boy - was sitting on the woven floor of the open part of this building, cross-legged and watching something on a blocky TV within the exposed maw of this building.
She scrambled across the gravel and a muddy canal, still full of rainwater from the recent downpour, but then became conscious of how dirty she'd become when she clambered on to the porch section of the building in front of the boy.
"Do you want to play with me?" the girl asked him in perfect (yet a little too polite) Japanese, shocking him enough to drop the remote he'd been holding. His chocolate brown eyes went searching before they discovered she was rummaging in her sundress's side pocket for something...which soon was revealed to be a bright blue yoyo.
He nodded slowly and carefully, as if he didn't quite understand what she wanted.
"Okay. My name is Nova," she explained concisely.
She looked at him expectantly, only to find his mouth moving but his throat not making a sound.
"Can you talk?" she cocked her head and smoothed out her yellow sundress while she waited.
"I just did!" he growled, causing her eyes to light up. "I told you my name is Satoshi. You're new around here, aren't you?" In his anger, he snatched up the yoyo, slid the string on to his middle finger and flung it at her face in a fluid motion, only stopping short of hitting her by a tiny margin.
Her eyes lit up with curiosity and confusion, his question ignored. "How did you do that?"
Wordlessly, he performed it in slow motion, his mind suddenly becoming too fixated on his actions...
"Nova. Are you alright? You zoned out there," Celesta told her, her eyes dull but her voice friendly.
The girl was only vaguely aware Satoshi had buried his face in his hands before heading to his room. Nonetheless, she hung her head in shame.
Certainly, that boy had already tried asking about everything he wanted to know about, but if she told him - or even tried to talk - about the latent technology that was currently implemented within her and Celesta, it would definitely threaten the two of them. She had already tried holding back her speech but what was any person without the communication they had grown up using? An empty husk, locked off from the world, vaguely like what Satoshi was...before she met him.
With a brief nod to the woman Nova could barely recognise as her aunt, she slid off her cream-coloured flats and stepped into the wooden entrance of the house.
However, just as she found Satoshi to ask for her own answers, Celesta's dull eyes regained their spark and the woman resumed her strangling from earlier.
"Aunty!" the blue-eyed girl barked in English at the woman in front of her, grabbing the adult's hands with unprecedented strength and wrenching them away, flinging her into the paper screen that served as a wall.
Satoshi stared on, one hand over his mouth in horror, as Nova offered him a hand to get up...but after letting down her guard, the metallic wings that had been grafted to her back a few days ago were now on display.
"It wasn't a dream after all..." she heard him whisper.