Peter, The Thing Is…

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It was Peter’s first day at school and things were not going well.  Everyone was acting so weird and he couldn’t figure out why.  All the other kids had moved their desks away from his the moment he sat down.  Now it was just him near the front of the room and everyone else in one big pile behind him.

Some of the kids were crying.  Peter sniffed each of his armpits.  Maybe he needed deodorant?

The teacher entered the room and without looking around, picked up a piece of chalk and began writing on the board.

“Good morning class,” she said as she wrote her name.  “My name is Mrs Simms and HOLY JUMPING JUPITER’S THUNDER WHAT ON EARTH IS THAT?”

She’d turned and caught sight of Peter.  Now she was pressed back against the blackboard so hard Peter was surprised she didn’t go through it.

He said, as calmly as he could, “Ok, I so don’t get this.  Why is everyone so freaked out?  Is it because I am new?  Do you treat all the kids like this?  Is it because I was homeschooled?”

“FOR THE LOVE OF NEPTUNE PLEASE DON’T SET US ON FIRE!”

“Fire?  Why would I do that?  Oh, come on, what’s happening here?  Is this some kind of joke?”  Peter looked around the room.  “Am I on one of those hidden camera shows?”

“FOR GOODNESS SAKE CHILDREN, FOLLOW ME AND RUN FOR THE HILLS!”  Mrs Simms dashed from the classroom and everyone followed her.  So many kids tried to get through the door at once that they got stuck.  The biggest kid in the class found himself trapped in the same room as Peter.  He didn’t like this so he ran and threw himself at the clot of children stuck in the doorway.

It worked.  Peter found himself alone in the classroom.  He put his head down on his desk and wept until he ran out of tears.

#

That night at dinner he picked at his spaghetti and meatballs even though they were his favourite.  His mother watched him and very gently said, “Peter, why don’t you tell your father what happened at school today?”

Peter shook his head.  “Don’t want to.”

“Peter, honey, I know it wasn’t your fault.  Now go on a tell your father and we can all talk about it together.”

Peter pouted.  “You.”

His mother sighed.  She turned to her husband.  “John, apparently all the kids in the class and the teacher too got a bit, ah, freaked out by Peter’s difference.”

His father swallowed a bite of meatball.  “Difference?”

“You know what I mean.”

“I sure as heck don’t!” said Peter.

Peter’s mother laid her hand on top of her husband’s.  “Honey, I think it’s time we told him.”

“Tell me what?” Peter, who had spent the meal slumped over, was now sitting bolt upright.  He looked at each of his parents, searching their faces for answers.  “Tell me, ok?  I’m dying here.  I want to know what the big secret is.”

His father said, “Can’t this wait until after dinner?  It’s been a long day and I’m starving.”

“No, it can’t!” Peter pounded the table with his fist.  Even though it was made of mighty oak, it split into two pieces and collapsed.  Peter gasped.  His father stared down at the ruins of his dinner.  Then he sighed and looked at Peter.

“Peter, my son, we love you very much.  Perhaps we should have told you earlier.  Part of the reason stuff like this keeps happening is because, well, you were adopted.”

Peter thought this over before he shrugged and said, ‘Well, ok.  That’s not such a big deal to me.  I guess I sort of already knew.  But that doesn’t really explain why everyone’s so afraid of me.”

“No, no, you’re quite right Peter,” said his mother.  “It doesn’t.  You see, your parents…well, there’s no other way to say this.  Peter, they were dragons.”

Peter gasped a second time.  His great, toothy mouth flapped open and closed a couple of times before he was able to speak.  “Dragon, you say?”

His parents nodded.  Peter looked down at his hands as if for the first time.

“That would explain the claws and the wings and the fire coming out of my mouth.  Actually, come to think of it, that would explain pretty much everything.”

His mother reached across the table and patted Peter’s scaly foreleg.  “Are you terribly upset, son?”

Peter shook his head.  “No, it’s just that it is a big thing to get used to.”

“Your father and I don’t love you any less.  It doesn’t matter to us that you’re not our flesh and blood or even the same species.  You are our son.’

“Your mother is absolutely right,” added his father.  “I couldn’t have put it better myself.”

Peter smiled.  “I know you guys love me.  I love you too.”  But then he frowned.  “There’s just one thing though: how am I ever going to fit in at school?”

At that moment the doorbell rang which everyone at the table found quite eerie.  It was as if the house itself were answering the question.

“I wonder who that is,” said his father as he rose from his seat.  “Is anyone expecting someone?”

Peter and his mother shook their heads.  His father left the room and opened the front door.

“Hello, Mr Orr.  Is Peter home?”

Peter looked at his mother.  The voice belonged to a girl.

“Yes, he is.  Who may I say is asking?”

“My name is Erin and this is Finn.  We’re in Peter’s grade and we feel just awful about what happened today.  We wanted to make friends because he seems like a nice dragon and everyone should have friends.”

“That’s very nice girls but the thing is we’re just in the middle of dinner –”

“No!  It’s ok Dad.  I’m finished.”  Peter appeared at the door behind his father.  He waved a scaly hand.  “Hiya girls, where do you want to hang out?”

Erin shrugged.  “The park?

His father stepped aside.  “Be home by dark, ok Peter?  Have a nice time now.”

Peter and the girls were halfway down the street before Finn whispered, “You can fly right?  Can you take us flying?”

Peter smiled, mostly to himself.  That explained his sudden popularity.  Oh well, he’d take it.  He crouched down on all fours.

“Hop on,” he said.

As they soared through the sky Peter whooped for joy.  He figured being a dragon wasn’t so bad after all.

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