Don’t Stick Out

Written to [personal profile] clare_dragonfly‘s prompt. Before Year 19 of the Addergoole School.

Shira Pelletier was having a bit of trouble.

“No, this is ridiculous.” The girl would not come out of her house, and had settled for talking to Shira through the tiniest crack in the door. “There is no way. I’m safe here. I’ve got food, water, the people don’t hate me… If you go away soon, that is. I don’t want to stick out.

“Maressa, I’m sorry, but if you don’t come with us, in a few months you are going to stick out far too much. Your parents -“

“My parents are dead. My parents are gone. They went off to fight the war. They left me, okay? So fuck whatever they wanted for me.”

“…I’m absolutely certain they wanted you safe.”

“Yeah, well, then they shouldn’t have left me here alone. They should have stayed.”

“Your parents…” Shira sighed. There were things she couldn’t say, not standing here on a formerly suburban street. “I’ll save that for another time. I know that you are safe here at the moment, but how long do you think that can last? Food, water – I don’t see many crops being planted, and you have no meat animals.”

“This is the burbs. Nobody knows how to plant crops.” Maressa threw up her hands, the gesture barely visible through the doorway opening. “Or, like, butcher animals, or anything. But they know how to store food okay. And everyone that ran off left something. We’ll be fine for another year.”

In another year, Maressa would have Changed. Shira swallowed, and dropped her voice even lower. “Maressa, do you remember your parents telling you stories about f—

“We don’t talk about those things here. We don’t talk about anything like that. We’re all normal. Human. Here.” She punctuated that with kicking the door. Shira sighed.

“Then come with me. I can’t promise everyone will be normal, but we can teach you how to plant crops, and how to husband animals – how to take care of them, that is, how to herd them and how to use them for food. And then, if you want, you can come back here and teach these people.”

Those that would have survived.

“Why me?” Maressa’s voice was still edgy, but she was about to give in. “Why not anyone else here?”

“Because your parents are the ones who set this up. And although you may hate them, they took some measures to provide for your future.”

“Why do you sound like that?” The door opened a bit further. “All fancy, like something out of a book?”

Shira allowed herself a small smile. “Because I am a teacher. And I would be honored to teach you.”

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