It was Pixel’s first day of high school. In her world, children could decide whether they wanted to go to high school or if they wanted to stop their schooling and go to work. Pixel’s parents had both stopped going to school which was why her father was pressuring her to go to high school.
It was bad enough that she had to go to public school against her will, but to start high school with a name such as Pixel? It was embarrassing.
“Now remember,” her father had told her, “If anyone asks, your mother is away on business and the hospital got your name wrong on your birth certificate.”
Pixel had rolled her eyes, like she did all the time, and reluctantly agreed as she took her brown paper bag lunch from her father’s hands.
It was hard for Pixel to take this whole high school thing seriously when ever her father was nervous and slightly embarrassed for her. It didn’t make her feel a whole lot better despite his forced smiles and words of, “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine,” and, “it’s all going to be alright.” Or, her favorite, “The year will be over before you know it!” Right. Then she’ll have three more years to go….
The truth was, Pixel’s mother was not away on business. She was dead. She had died a long time ago in an effort to protect Pixel. Which was why she was in the human world and not where she originally came from, The Forest.
Her father was human and her mother was a Fairy. Fairies were magical beings and they had a lot of skills and properties built into them. Her mother had tricked her father into thinking she was human. They married, had Pixel, and when the doctor’s were baffled at Pixel’s one-inch size when she was born, her mother had run away with her.
She kept in touch with her husband, of course, but they couldn’t expose the fairy world. According to Pixel’s father, that would be bad. Don’t ask Pixel how or why. Her father never finished explaining.
When Pixel was young, something happened in The Forest. Her mother had given her life to save Pixel and thus now she was living as a human with her father.
She loved her father dearly and she was sure she would have loved her mother if she had gotten to know her. Still, Pixel couldn’t help but feeling bitter about her life. Why couldn’t she have been full fairy or full human? Why did she have to go to high school like this?
Pixel had researched high school on the Internet. It didn’t look pretty and it didn’t sound like a lot of fun. In fact, Pixel was afraid to go. Yet, her father dropped her off at the front with a big encouraging smile. He gave her a kiss goodbye, wished her luck, and then he was on his way.
Pixel waved as the car vroomed out of sight. As much as she resented this idea, her biggest fear was screwing up. She didn’t want to disappoint her father. Or her mother.
A loud noise rang through the courtyard and Pixel assumed that must have been the bell. From what her father told her, the bell meant Pixel had to get to her class. That was another weird thing about high school. Why did everyone base their schedule upon an inanimate object? Shouldn’t they go where they want or wait for the teachers to let them go? It was just weird to her.
Pixel entered the front door, among many other people, and she looked around in awe. The lobby was huge and bright. It looked much nicer than some pictures she had seen on the Internet.
It was crowded though so she couldn’t see much other than the large chandelier hanging overhead. And even though the bell had already rung, there were still a lot of students hanging around chatting with one another.
“How was your summer vacation?”
“Oh, it’s so nice to see you!”
“Wow, you lost a lot of weight! Good for you!”
Pixel flinched at each and every word. She was able to shift into a human and round out her pointed ears, but being part fairy, her hearing was still much better than the average human. That was something she couldn’t turn off and she was beginning to get a headache at all the noise. If this was just the beginning of high school, what was the rest of the day going to be like? What was the rest of the year going to be like?
Before she knew it, Pixel found herself running. She was bumping into people (and it seemed as though she knocked someone to the ground, but she didn’t stop to check) and she finally made it into another room. It was quieter there, though she could still hear the gossip and conversations from the lobby.
The bell rang again overhead and she knew she was supposed to get to class, but she didn’t know where she was supposed to go. Maybe she could find a teacher and they would be able to help.
She walked further into the room admiring all the many tables and chairs. This was a huge classroom! Then she got a whiff of pancakes, bacon, and fresh bagels. She licked her lips and noticed to her left was a kitchen. Wow, did all the classrooms have a kitchen like this? Maybe they had a refrigerator for her to put her lunch in.
Pixel was just about to go into the kitchen and ask one of the workers when something else caught her attention.
“Have you heard about the Underneath?” a male asked.
“No, what are you talking about?” another male responded.
Intrigued, Pixel headed over to where the two boys were talking. There were standing in the hallway on the other side of the large classroom. She poked her head around the wall and watched the two of them.
Both of them were tall, one tan with a stocky body. The other had darker skin with muscles bulging from his sleeves.
“The Underneath is hidden under the school.”
“No kidding, Alvin… That’s what underneath means.” The sports guy replied bluntly.
“You know what I mean, Miles! There’s treasure or something under the school. Our high school, can you believe it?” Alvin said rubbing his thick arms. Though Pixel didn’t think they were thick with muscles.
“Treasure? Who said treasure?”
“Well… I’m just assuming. I mean, what else could the Underneath mean?”
“Oh, I don’t know… A basement, maybe?” Miles said rolling his eyes.
Pixel couldn’t help but snicker to herself. Lucky for them, they didn’t seem to hear her. Still, this Underneath thing seemed interesting. It would certainly make high school a lot more interesting. She just needed to learn more about it.
But she was new at school. And she was supposed to lay low because of the whole fairy business. Pixel wasn’t sure what to do, but her curiosity was getting to her.