The kids gathered in the playroom, fidgeting on their stools impatiently. Hallie said she had big news for them that afternoon, and they’d all been excitedly exchanging theories all morning.
“So, are you guys ready?” Hallie kneeled down in front of them with a conspicuous smile, receiving eager nods and yes’s in return.
“I thought you might be.” She continued. “Well, I’d like you to meet someone special. As you know we’ve had one empty bed in the house for quite some time now after Sigrid’s adoption, so we’re ready to welcome someone new. I hope you show her how wonderful you all are – Emmeline, why don’t you come out now, sweetie?”
Oohs and aahs filled the room as the purple-skinned girl walked in.
“This is Emmeline,” Hallie introduced her. “She’s one of us now. Make her feel welcome.”
“Hi guys!” The girl’s lips curved into a grin. “I’m so excited to meet you all!”
“Are you from Sixam?”
“I thought all aliens were green!”
“Do you know Hope and Aslan’s grandma?”
“Now then, don’t overwhelm Emmeline guys,” Hallie reminded them. “She’s just like you. A child that needed a new home. Don’t forget now.”
“She’s cooler than any of us, though” Millicent proclaimed. “It’s so awesome!”
“Sigrid and I used to share a room, so that means you’re my new roommate Emmeline!” Marla beamed. “What do I call you for short?”
“I hope we get to be friends!” Donnie said shyly.
Nobody really noticed that Alexus was awfully quiet in all of the excitement. The girl watched as everyone started introducing themselves to the newcomer. Everyone seemed so happy to have an alien in the house. And Emmeline didn’t seem to try to hide what she was.
Alexus was confused. What did any of this mean? And did Emmeline somehow know her secret? The alien girl caught her looking at her, causing Alexus to jump.
Alexus couldn’t take it. She snuck out and ran all the way to the playground, climbing onto the monkey bars.
Maybe she should just stay here for good. Run away. These last few months… Everything she’d ever known seemed wrong. Alexus couldn’t make sense of any of it.
When they first found her in the streets of Willow Creek as an odd-skinned and bud-eyed baby, they took her to hiding. But to her carer’s relief, the child developed the ability to morph and take on disguises as she got older. Stick to one, they told her. Pretend to be normal. If you do it well enough, maybe one day you can join normal children.
She was elated when she was finally deemed convincing enough to be sent to live in the Newcrest orphanage with other children. She’d act as kind as she could possibly imagine, to make sure she’d fit in. And she did. She made friends. Was one of them. Or so they thought. And that was good enough, wasn’t it?
But then the girls was forced to question everything. It started with little things, like Donnie asking about aliens. The first real blow was Snowflake Day, when they all met those aliens. But they were old ladies. They’d lived here for a long time, and they were Bloomers at that. Not like her, a true outsider. Or so Alexus thought.
The girl suddenly noticed she was watched.
“Hey! What are you doing here? Are you stalking me? Go away!” She yelled over her shoulder. Aslan Leoni and his mean remarks about silly girls and cooties was the last thing she needed now.
“This park is for everyone!” Aslan told her. “Besides, dad said that when I grow up all of Newcrest will be mine. Well… and Hope’s I guess. But anyway, that means I can definitely be here!”
“Well, if you own it all why don’t you find any other monkey bars?” Alexus frowned. “Why do you have to come taunt me?”
“I don’t want to tease you. I wanted to tell you something important,” Aslan informed her. “I know!”
“You know what?”
“I know your secret. Because I saw you glow, on Snowflake Day.”
Alexus almost fell off the monkey bars. This was bad. Really bad. With this and Emmeline, what was left for her to do?
Of course, she could try to alter his memory. But none of that seemed right. The most Alexus had used her powers for in the past were instances like reading Camden’s mind when him and Marla hid Donnie’s helicopter to find out where it was, or to make Millicent zip up when she was about to deliver yet another self-important speech. But Alexus had quickly learned that most situations like that could be dealt with the regular way too. By talking to them.
Perhaps she should do that now too.
“Follow me,” she told Aslan as she jumped down to the ground.
She led him to a more secluded part of the park, out of most people’s sight.
“So… what do you think you know?” She asked the boy.
“Well, I saw you turn pink on Snowflake Day. Kind of like one of those plumbob-shaped lamps.” Aslan explained. “Most people can’t do that.”
“Do you think I’m a lamp?” Alexus stalled.
“No, duh!” Aslan rolled his eyes. “Hope and Donnell told me that grandma told them that aliens glow. When they think something strong, I guess. So, that means you must be an alien.”
A million frantic thoughts entered the girl’s mind. First things first.
“Did you tell them?”
“Who? Hope and Donnell? No.” Aslan shook his head.
“You haven’t told them either,” the boy shrugged. “You must have had a reason. So, you are an alien, right? Why keep it a secret? And how does the glowing thing work? Why aren’t you glowing now?”
Probably because I’m feeling a million things at once, Alexus thought. Naturally, she didn’t tell him that.
“Because I’m not a lamp!” She said instead. “You said it yourself. Aliens don’t just glow all the time. Only when they feel something strong.”
“Like what?” Aslan was curious. “On Snowflake Day, you started glowing pink when I sat down next to you. What does that mean? Is it because you like the colour? Because you wear pink clothes?”
This was getting even worse, Alexus cringed. “What, you found out my secret and now you want to know all of my thoughts too?” She hissed.
“Well, you can read my thoughts, can’t you?” The boy asked. “Or can’t you?”
“I could. But I don’t. Cause they’re your thoughts.”
“That seems fair.” Aslan nodded. “It’s the same with your secret. That’s why I haven’t told anyone. It’s your secret. Not mine.”
The girls relaxed a little. “Ok. Thanks Aslan.”
“No problem.” Aslan hesitated for a moment. “So… what do you look like?”
“Why do you wanna know?”
“I’m curious! I mean, the reason you wear the disguise is so that nobody knows you’re an alien, right? But I know, so… I should be able to see you.”
“That makes no sense.” Alexus shook her head. The boy’s face fell. She sighed. “Fine. I guess you can see.”
She twirled around, revealing her true form.
“Woah what?” Alexus asked nervously. It was the first time anyone in Newcrest could see the real her, after all.
“You look awesome! You’re blue! I thought all aliens were green!” Aslan brought Alexus straight to the earlier encounter with Emmeline. His reaction was so similar to the other kids’ reactions to the new girl… but it couldn’t feel more different.
“Aliens come in all sorts of colours.” Alexus explained. “I saw a purple one just earlier today.”
“Never mind.” He’d find out about Emmeline soon enough, Alexus figured.
“Well, I like the blue the best.” Aslan shrugged. “It’s my favourite colour.”
Alexus beamed. “It is?”
“Yeah! I wish I could be blue… Wait, so can you make your disguise look like anything you want?” Aslan was getting excited.
“I can.” The girl muttered modestly.
“Wow! You should change it all the time! You could give yourself blue hair! Or pink. Since you like pink, right?”
Alexus giggled. “I do like pink. But you know, if I changed my disguise, people would notice I’m not normal. And that defeats the whole point.”
“I dunno. Why would you want to be just normal? You’re super cool! And blue!” Aslan enthused.
Alexus couldn’t remember the last time she felt this happy. She definitely never experienced such freedom, with or without her disguise.
“Thanks Aslan,” she smiled. “I was wrong about you, you know. You’re actually pretty nice. For a boy.” She added quickly.
“Hm.” It seemed something occurred to Aslan. “Do alien girls have cooties?”
“Cooties aren’t real, Aslan!”
“Neither are aliens, right?” Aslan shrugged with a smirk.
Alexus just winked and changed back into her human disguise.
“Hey Aslan… you’ll really keep the secret, right? No matter what?” She asked.
“I already said I would.” Aslan said impatiently. “I’m not a liar. Promise. Besides, I kept your secret waay before you asked me to.”
“True.” Alexus nodded. “Friends?”
“Yeah!” Aslan grinned. “Friends.”