I had hoped this day would come.
I knew off-colors would one day stand together against those who hate us. Against those who shut us out.
“Friends! Today we stand together!” Our leader, Tamion, cries. “Today we stand for justice, for we are not different!”
“We are beautiful!” We all cheer.
We are the rebels, the off-colors. The people who have weird hair and eyes and colors.
There are dark people with blue eyes, people with yellow feline eyes, people with naturally neon-colored hair.
I stare at the boy I’ve liked since I met him, the boy with green hair and green eyes that look like a snakes.
He looks back and smiles.
“Tonight,” Tamion calls, “We show them we are not lower than them! We are not shorter or evil or dumb! We are strong!”
“We are strong!” The crowd echoes.
“We have a few among us, who are not colored differently, but who are different in another way. These normal people are different because they understand! They hunger for justice as much as we do! They see who we truly are! They do not think of us as less than them! Let us thank these ones, for they are our greatest friends.”
I cheer and smile at the normal person next to me. She smiles back.
“Now! Let us go!”
We all look at the monument in front of us, where we know politicians are.
We all run forward.
I saw him from across the street.
He was being bullied by my brother and his friends. I couldn’t tell why until I saw his hair.
He had dark skin and blond hair.
In my world, there are people called off-colors. People that the government claim are wrong.
Green hair. Like my brother.
Golden eyes. Like me.
I stopped for a moment, watching them kick him and laugh. I can’t stand this.
I crossed the street.
My brother grinned as I approached.
“Hey, sis. Here to join the fun?”
I think for a minute before saying, “Yeah.”
For a split second, the boys eyes are full of fear. He cringes, bracing himself.
I must’ve surprised him.
I dove in front of him, trying to block the kicks. My brother pulls his cap down so the boys can’t see he’s a off-color.
“Grace, get out of the way,” My brother sneers.
The boys try to haul me away. They might hate off-colors, but they can’t see that I’m one of them.
“Grace! Let us deal with him!”
I do something I haven’t done in so long it hurts.
I take off my sunglasses.
I blink in the sudden bright sun. I’ve only taken those off at bed. Doing it in daylight is so strange.
They stare at my off-color eyes.
And then they’re on me.
Kicking. Punching. Slapping.
That was when I slapped my brothers hat off his head, revealing his green hair.
All the boys stare at him.
I grab the boys hands and try to help him up.
My brother starts to back away.
The boys all chase him.
I start to drag the boy away, who seems only half alive.
My mom rushes out as soon as she sees us. I wonder how many people like him she’s seen. She was a rebel in our very own war. She met our dad there.
I sit outside on the porch while she treats him.
My brother came home hours later, scratched up and purple from bruises.
“Finley, I didn’t mean to...”
He turns toward me and silences me with a look. He had a black eye.
I didn’t see the other boy for a few days. He was usually either unconscious or in pain, as Mom told me.
Finley will probably never talk to me again.
I sit in the fields, staring at the sunset, wondering if what I did was right or wrong.
I turn around and see the boy grinning at me, his hair shining in the shrinking light.
“My name’s Tonell.”
He sits next to me and stares at the sun.
“You shouldn’t feel bad.” He says. “Your brother deserved it.”
“How did you...?”
“I don’t know. It’s just a thing I can do.” He grins again.
“Show-off.” I mutter. He laughs.
We sit there for another moment.
“My brother had no friends until that group came along. I took that away from him.”
“He shouldn’t have been hanging out with them anyway.”
“I guess so.”
“Your eyes are beautiful.”
I blush and look away. I hadn’t put my sunglasses on yet.
“By the way, I threw them into the river.”
“Threw what in?”
“Those stupid glasses.”
I whip my head around. “You did what?”
“You shouldn’t be wearing them.”
“Tonell! They’re the only things that make me feel...normal!” I yell, enraged.
“You’re not normal.”
“Thanks for the reminder, I almost forgot!”
He sighs. “What I’m saying is, you shouldn’t be afraid. People will love you how you are.”
“Why would they do that?”
“Because you’re not a bad person. You’re not the plague. You’re amazing, and anyone who gets to know you will see that.”
“Who would want to?”
“Anyone that’s a good person. And me.”
He leans closer to me.
I smile a little. “You’re not in that category, are you?”
“And why is that?”
“I may have run from officers a few times. And by a few times I mean sometimes. And by sometimes I mean often.”
I snicker. He smiles.
He carefully and slowly kisses me.
They were expecting us.
When we all ran into the monument, they were waiting for us. Huge guns. Knives.
Everyone fought with everything we had. Every off-color, every normal person, fighting against the people who once controlled us.
How did they know?
At that moment, the boy who I liked, the one with green hair and eyes, ran up to me.
“We have to get out of here.” He pleaded.
“Watch out!” I pushed him out of the way as bullet narrowly missed us.
“Gemi, we have to run! They’re going to kill us!”
“We can’t run now!” How could he think of running? This was the fighting we were trained for.
“We have to go! We can’t fight them!”
“We have to!” I punched a man running toward an off-color. He groaned and fell.
The off-color I saved stabbed him. I looked away.
“Gemi, we have to survive!”
“We have to fight! This is why we’re here!”
“They can carry on without us.”
“Well, I’m running. Are you coming or not?”
I thought it over for a second. Wasn’t the point of this to make a difference? Wasn’t the point of this to rebel? To get out rights back?
I turned to the boy with tears in my eyes.
“Coward!” I yelled. “We’re here to fight, not run away!”
“I thought you were smarter than that, Gemi. I’m sorry. Goodbye.”