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Help Her Fit In

Tamlyn Dreaver lives in Western Australia. She writes to make up for the lack of secret basements and nesting dragons in her life. She can be found at tamlyndreaver.com and followed on Twitter @tamlyn_dreaver.

She says her name is Msisiki so we call her Missy. She already looks so different.
We don't know if she's a changeling or a fairy or some sort of alien. It doesn't matter, Mum says, because she's my sister now. We have to help her fit in.
Her hair is deep green, like leaves in the shadows, and Dad suggests she dye it. Her skin is a paler green. We don't know how to hide that. Missy tosses her hair, and leaves fall down around her. She raises her chin and her oak-brown eyes spark fire. She's fine, she says, how she is.
Mum slips a hat into her bag anyway. Just in case.
I know how cruel the kids at school can be, even if you're not their main target. Missy is. They taunt her and pull her hair and follow her around the playground. She doesn't seem to care. She laughs it off. When she's angry, the leaves drop down, and when she's happy, everything sparkles as if it's just rained.
I get bullied more because Missy's my sister. She finds me crying. She feels bad, even though it's not really her fault, and I make her promise not to drop leaves or do the sparkling at school. Just at home. It won't hurt her not to do it, and it will make the teachers less angry as well.
She promises.
She still looks strange, but at least she doesn't act so strange. Some people ignore us now.
When Missy first came to live with us, she would eat in the garden. We made her try our food as well. It isn't healthy for her to only eat dirt or grass or whatever she actually ate. When she tried spaghetti and roast lamb and all those yummy things, she liked them. Now she eats with us all the time. Mum and Dad are so happy. Dinner time, they say, is family time.
Yesterday Missy came home from school with the hat on and her face dirtied from crying. I don't know what happened. She wouldn't tell me. She didn't tell Mum and Dad either, and they even tried talking to the school. She wears the hat every day now.
Mum asks if she wants to get it dyed, and she says yes. We make a treat of it so she doesn't feel so bad. A proper hairdresser, ice cream afterwards. She looks so beautiful with deep black hair. It even makes her skin less green.
She isn't very happy at the moment, but everyone at school knows what color her hair really is. Sometimes she still makes leaves fall when she doesn't concentrate hard enough. So they still taunt her. It will be better in high school, for both of us, because no one there will know. She'll be happier.
For now I go to movies and shops with her, all normal girl things, to cheer her up.
During the holidays, she goes out sometimes and sits in the yard and does nothing. We all worry. She says she's sorry for worrying us, and I think she is. She eventually stops sitting outside so I guess it doesn't matter why she did it.
High school is better. Just like I thought it would be. The big kids from primary school are the little ones now, and they don't matter. A teacher yells at Missy on the second day; she tosses her hair, but no leaves fall. I'm so proud of her. I hug her all the way home.
At the end of term, Missy gets certificates for all her subjects. We're so proud of her. Dad doesn't even mind that I didn't get anything. She puts them on her wall and spends a lot of time looking up at them.
Missy is the prettiest girl in glass with her pale skin and dark hair. I'm so proud she's my sister. I don't know why I ever thought she was a changeling or something. She was clearly just sick. She's so normal now.
I don't think she's happy at the moment, but everyone says it's normal for teenage girls to be unhappy. I almost failed math. Dad says I should be more like Missy now. It's the holidays, and I don't have to care about math for two whole weeks, and I guess Missy will be better by tomorrow, too.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, January 12th, 2022
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