Roza landed on Earth the following night, no longer in exile, but in refuge. She choked on the polluted oxygen, her lungs not liking the filth in them. Her brain protested, and all of her muscles stayed rooted to the ground. She wasn't moving. No way. Roza stared off at the distant city lights; they were on the outskirts of Seattle, and the moon was covered by clouds. Anna looked up, sighing. "Come on, Roza. We've got to get to a dry area. It's about to rain." She pushed the Temperess away from the shuttle, and the captain reboarded it. He looked at the two girls, with one bag each, and a folder filled with information from the Council. The dead Council. "In four years to this date, depending on how the Estonians are doing, we'll pick you up. Don't leave Seattle. Got it?" Anna nodded, opening her mouth. "I want detailed reports weekly from my brother as well." The man stared at her. "His name is Arkur." She told him. The pilot nodded, turning back to the medic in the shuttle. In Estonian, he told her to write down Anna's brother's name.
They started the aircraft and flew off, leaving a worried Anna and miserable Roza. They made it to their hotel in a few minutes, a large man in a 'taxi' had picked them up and driven them there. Anna knew all about Earth; this was not her first time on the planet. But Roza, Roza barely understood their language, let alone where to go. She was thankful for Anna now, no longer bothered by the girl's presence. Dumping her bag on one of the beds in the small, dingy hotel room, Roza sighed. "I don't get it." she said, frowning. Anna merely glanced at her, then continued unpacking. "I told you," she began, "the man in the taxi was obese; Earth dwellers have this thing called McDonald's. It's a food place, and it makes you fat." Roza sneered, still disgusted at the thought of cows and chickens being stuffed into buns and salads. "No, no, no. It doesn't add up. See, the man who called me on the shuttle said he was from the Council, doing weekly calls for Mehman. But . . . right after he said that, you were told about the Council's death. You said they had just been discovered, gassed out. And the latest report from the medic on board said they had been like that since we left. That man shouldn't have been alive if he was telling the truth."
"So you're saying . . . you think he has something to do with it?" asked Anna, who had obviously never thought of it that way. "Maybe." said Roza, suddenly remembering the folder. She opened it and found all sorts of documents; legal guardianship of her, a Social Security number, insurance . . . high school registration, and of course, a story to fit her new persona. With a smirk, Roza read it.
'You are Tiffany Micheals. You just moved from Poland to Seattle. Your mother and father died in a plane crash when you were seven. You've been raised by your older sister, Anna, since then. Anna used to live in Colorado, but your father was deported to Poland for the U.S. military before you were born, which is why you have the accent; Polish is your first language.' The paper read. Roza - now Tiffany - sighed. Emotions, too strong to hold back, overwhelmed her, and she cried. "I don't want to be a Temperess. I don't want to be on Earth. I don't want to be Tiffany Micheals. I want to be Roza Tiffanna Merine from Estonia." she wept. Anna said nothing, and instead, watched her wallow in self-pity. "And I want to see Mara and Nolina!" Roza sobbed.
Anna stared blankly at the girl, unfeeling. "Normally I would care, but tonight I'm too tired." She said, lying on the mattress. Roza glared at her as she flicked off the light. "Oh, and by the way, school starts on Monday." Anna added. Roza's heart sped up, skipping a few steps. Sighing, she nodded and went to sleep.
Monday morning came a little too early. Roza grumbled, trying to remember her name as she said it outloud in a mirror. Tiffany. Tiffany. When she could completely call herself Tiffany and not think 'Roza', she left for school. Anna drove all the way, neither girls speaking. The car had been bought by the Council; at least the two weren't entirely on their own. Anna dumped her off at a large building with students rushing inside to catch the bell. "Bye!" cried Anna, her perfect, fake American accent blending in with the sounds. All alone, Tiffany gulped and walked in. She received a schedule from a woman behind a desk, and many students stared. Boys whistled as she walked past, others just kept on walking with their girlfriends. Girls glared at her and others sneered. 'At least none can see my scar.' Tiffany told herself.
First period came and went. Listening to an old man with graying hair speak wasn't as much fun as she had anticipated. No one even spoke to her. She grabbed her bag and headed down the stairs, thinking of where to go next. A scrawny boy from the previous class skipped two steps to catch up with her. "Hi!" he cried, looking at her. She was taller than him, and so he was staring more at her neck than at her eyes. "I'm Robby! Tiffany, right?" Tiffany nodded. "Yeah." she said, her accent bubbling back up. She didn't dare say more. Listening to Robbie might have been the most boring thing she had ever done - even worse than the lecture Mr. Morgan had given on the history of lines in art. He rambled on and on for the next two hours, seeing as they had both second, third, and fourth period together, and she only heard little pieces of it. She had noticed a taller guy, tan, dark headed, and very good looking, stride towards her while walking to lunch. He pushed Robbie away, and he yelled. "Hey! I was talking to her! Stupid jock, go bug another nerd." The definitely more interesting boy, whose name was unknown, just ignored him. He leaned coolly against the wall.
"Hey." He said simply, his tall frame leaning over her. Tiffany looked up into his eyes, and her Temperess powers came out. They hissed and she stepped back, the burning in her neck disappearing. "I'm Darik." The guy continued. "You're new. What's your name?" Something in that face . . . it was familiar. She quickly ran through famous Estonian banishments in the past 18 years. Nope, she thought, none of these people match his description. But yet, the Temperess mark continued to sting the closer he stepped towards her.
And so she stepped back.
Darik seemed surprised, and Robbie was tugging at her elbow to move along, but Tiffany stayed still. Darik frowned, "Get lost, nub." A shiver ran up the girl's mind at those words. She stepped in front of Robbie, her face glowing with power. "Leave him alone. Don't talk to him like he's some kind of idiot. I bet he's a whole lot smarter than you." Tiffany hissed, turning away. She could almost hear Darik's pride and confidence breaking, but instead of turning around and leaving her alone, the boy persisted. He grabbed her shoulder; the contact stung, and Tiffany leapt away with a yelp. A few juniors passed by, staring at her curiously, but thought nothing of it. "Don't touch me. Ever. Again." she snapped.
"Then don't try to blow me off. You don't blow me off and get away with it. Understand?" Tiffany stared straight at him, shaking her head. "No, I don't understand. See, I don't speak stupid." She took another step backwards, and he did the same. So they continued this dangerous tango, him reaching out to her, her slapping him away. "Enough is enough." She bellowed. "Shut up, leave me alone, and don't you dare place ONE hand on me. Got it?!" she yelled, and the entire courtyard fell silent. Then, all of a sudden, a few girls started clapping. They were grinning, yelling out, "You go girl!" and "Tell that jerk! He's so low!" Tiffany brushed back her hair, smiling towards their direction. "Don't forget desperate!" she hollered back, walking away once and for all. Finally, the student body let out a loud, "Ooooooh!", mocking Darik.
Being led away by the encouraging girls, Tiffany Micheals swore she heard a faint cracking sound of pride breaking.
Instant fame and popularity followed after her showdown with Darik. Everyone loved her; apparently he was a desperate, low life jock who would do anything to have a girlfriend who was never told off. Ever. She noticed he stayed out of the drama, and instead, bowed his head in either respect or shame when she passed him. Weeks passed, and soon Tiffany was the perfect girl. Smart, easy going, funny, and popular, every guy wanted her. She had all but forgotten about Robbie, instead enjoying the company of a not so talkative, but yet not so rude boy named Isaiah. She really liked him; the two had chemistry. October came, and a few weeks before Halloween, a poster was placed in front of the cafeteria. Homecoming was that Saturday.
Before Isaiah had even shown up to the table at lunch, Tiffany was bombarded by Robbie. He smiled, cheesily, and whispered, "Will you go to the dance with me?" Tiffany, who had barely even recognized the kid, frowned. "I sorta have a date already. I'm sorry, but I know other girls who would love to go with you! Like, Michelle!" Robbie bit his lip at the rejection, blood pouring out of the cut. "Hey, don't do that!" cried Tiffany, shaking her head. "Sorry, I just want to go with you. Later." said Robbie abruptly, walking off.
Isaiah showed up and he sat down next to her, placing his arm around her. All was right again and the guilt of turning down Robbie was soon gone.