DIFFERENT - meg tuite

“You smell like oranges,” Danny said to Cara. They lived in the same building. She was taller than him and smarter. “Watch out for that witch down the hall,” Cara said. “She called me a boy when I helped with her groceries. I threw her poison nickels down the sewer. Anyway, the witch from Oz melted into a small, green puddle, but I saw butter melt and grow back into a long, solid lump, so no reason to believe any witch is dead.”

They ate blue pixie sticks until their tongues were punctured-purple. Danny’s face was paper-white and sometimes he screamed and Cara screamed with him. He liked that. His face was blotchy.

The day they started school, Danny hid behind the chalkboard that swung when you pulled it. He didn’t like crowds and school was full of them. Cara told her mom he hid at school and stared at her from behind chalkboards and under desks, but he wouldn’t talk, even to her. Cara wanted to whisper things to him. Mom said he was different, he would always be different and that’s why he hid like that.

So now, at school, when Danny stared at Cara; Cara stared back.

Meg Tuite
The Third Policeman
Flann O'Brien