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A person's skin

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I screamed the day I turned 14.

It was high pitched, laced in confused fear that made its way to the ears of every person within the house.

My parents had rushed for the bathroom door, flinging it open and calling my name. When I turned to them, they stepped away in shock.

Then their eyes set with an understanding remorse.

"My sweet boy," despite my appearance- my sudden change- my mother embraced me.

How could she just accept this so easily? I could hardly even breath, the blood rushing to my pointed ears.

My pointed ears.

I couldn't recognize myself in the mirror. I was some elven looking stranger with blue markings below my eyes and dazzling silver hair.

"What's happening to me?" I sobbed into my Mama's arms, "Mama- what is this?"

"Mi Hijo," she tightened her grip, "We- we should have told you sooner. We should have-" she turned to my Dad for help. He bent down to a knee, gripping my shoulder tightly.

"Listen to me, Lance. This isn't going to make sense- because I still haven't worked it out myself, but I'm going to tell you something and I need you to listen. Okay? It is very important…"

Through my tears, I some how managed to nod, "Okay, Papa."

"Lance, I-" he pauses, his eyes crinkling with hesitation, "I don't know how to say this, my boy," he admits, his voice weak "You aren't- 13 years ago, we- we found you."

"What?" I frowned

"Just listen to me. We found you, and we took you in. You didn't come from your mother and me,"

I couldn't believe my ears. "No… What are you saying?" I whisper frantically, "I-Is this some kind of joke?" Some very cruel and sick joke.

"I'm afraid not, mi amado," my mother tells me.

"...You found me?" I croaked out. "I'm not… I'm not really-" I shook my head, my vision blurring. "I'm not really your son?"

My mother looked ready to break, her lower lip trembling. "No, Lance, you are our son. You always were and always will be. It is true that we may not be blood-related- but blood is not what defines a family," she cupped my face, forcing me to look into her eyes, "You are mine. My son." she says.

"...Y-You're my mom," I whisper back weakly, clinging to those words for protection.

"Yes," she nods her head frantically, "You are, and never forget that. B-But it's true that we found you at first. We aren't sure where exactly you came from…"

"What does that mean? W-Where did you find me?" I ask them. They glance at each other nervously.

"You should- follow us," My father lead us outside. Stepping through the grass, hand in hand, like I had reverted back to my five-year-old self where I would stand between them and let them swing me around, I walked with them.

I was guided to the shed that was placed far back within the yard. It was my father's shed. No one was allowed in it but him.

He had always told us it was for work and he had dangerous tools inside. All of this was true, but it wasn't till they opened it and stepped inside that I could see the other reasons.

A pod.

Or a shuttle?
Something strange was pushed back against the far wall.

"What is that?" I ask softly, almost terrified of the answer.

"Come take a look for yourself,"

Cautiously, I approached the object. My father, who had messed with it countless times, pressed a button, and it opened.

I had expected it to open like a hatch- but it didn't. The glass literally dissolved upward like some highly advanced technology, revealing the inside of the pod.

"It was crashed down a little outside of the city… we were driving by when we saw it. We almost called the police, but then we heard you crying inside. You were just a baby…" my Dad recalls.

"We don't know how this ended up there but it… it looked like it had crashed down,"

"You just found me inside?" I mumbled slowly, hesitantly.

"Yes. When he found you… well, you had these," My mother gently ran a hand up to my ears. They twitched at the touch, "You had these markings, this hair- we didn't know what to say. But when we reached in to take out, to see if you were okay, you changed. Your hair grew brown, your ears became likes ours, and the markings vanished."

"At the time we didn't really have great service to call anyone and it was late- we were both just so startled and confused that we ended up hooking this thing to the back of the truck and taking you home." My Dad confesses, leaning his weight against the wall.

"W-What did you say to the police?" I whispered cautiously.

My mother looked away for a moment then smiled, "Nothing. I… I stayed up with you that entire night, mi amor. We thought we would call the police in the morning, but when morning came around, we couldn't."

"We fell in love with you, mi hijo," my Dad said with pride. At that time, they had both wanted a son, but with each try, they had failed, leaving my sister an only child. It was just them and Chari. There weren't many children around their neighborhood and she was getting lonely.

"I thought you were a gift from the sky… I've seen movies and I know how most initially react to things that are-" she paused, "New. Different. It didn't want you to be isolated or outcasted, Lance. And you never showed signs of these traits until now so we just- we kept you. We loved you and welcomed you into our home because it felt like you belonged here."

"We should have told you, however." my Father says tightly, "It was wrong of us to keep this a secret for so long. We just- you never turned back into this, and we weren't sure how to explain it without you seeing it for yourself. So we waited."

When my knees buckled, I had to sit down to take this all in. My mind was reeling, too many thoughts and questions washing over me to think straight. What was I? Where did I come from? Why was I in a pod? How did I manage to change how I looked? Could I change back?! Was I stuck like this forever?

Deciding to take one thing at a time, I asked the questions I'm sure my parents could actually answer for me. "Does Chari know? O-Or Arlo?" I asked, wondering just how many people in my family knew about this.

"Chari does. Though she was very young at the time, she had been with us in the car. We've talked to her and she's promised to never mention it to you…Your sister loves you exactly as you are, Lance."

"W-What about Arlo?" Lance inquired, fearing what his little brother might think.

"Arlo does not," My dad adds in, "I'm sure now he is old enough to understand, but we didn't know how to tell him about this."

Sitting next to me, my parents wrapped their arms around my shoulders, giving them gentle squeezes, "Sweetheart," My mother inquires weakly, "Are you… okay?"

How could I be okay right now?

But, if I wasn't okay, how was I supposed to feel? Angry, sad, upset? What do you say when your parents tell you that they have lied to you your entire life and it turns out you are some elven baby something or whatever from outer space?

If that was even where I was from. I might have fallen from a plane or something too. It was a little bit of a reach to assume space- but with the ears and ability to change my characteristics, space seemed to make more sense.

"I don't know," I reply, my voice sounding foreign, even to myself.

"Oh, wait!" my mother suddenly slapped her forehead, "I'm so- How could I forget this! We should have given this to you first," she waved her hands around, flustered. From the way she stumbled around, I wondered how long these thoughts had tormented her. How many hours of sleep had she lost every night, wondering and fearing this day?

With the way my dad gripped my shoulder, as if he were afraid I would suddenly run and disappear from their lives forever, I assume a long time.

Taking a moment I lift my hand and pat his arm, a weak attempt to assure him. He pulled me closer, giving me a tight side hug. "Are you mad at us?" he asks as my mother tosses boxes from side to side in search of something.

"No," I tell him, and I mean it. I could never hate them. They were my parents. I didn't like that they kept this from me, but in a way, I understood. I wouldn't have wanted to know about this, and now that I do, I don't know how to handle it.

"M-Mom," I attempt to distract myself. If I keep talking, maybe I won't think about it too much, "What are you looking for?"

Rushing to the other side of the shed she lifted up a box. It seemed light from how easily she brought it to me and set it down in my arms.

Not sure what it was, I raise my eyebrow. "What is this?"

"It's yours. Everything you had on you when we found you," she tells me gently.

Not even sure if I wanted to know the contents, I open it anyway. There wasn't much, a single outfit the size of an infant, a small toy that made jingle noises, and a blanket with odd symbols woven into the fabric.

"What does this mean?" I point to it, curious.

"We aren't sure," my Dad tells me, "We tried to look for the translation, in every language we could no less, but there was never a match. We thought maybe it was a family symbol too and looked into that possibility, but we still found nothing. We're sorry we couldn't be more helpful in telling you who you are, my boy,"

"No. No, it's okay," I lift the blanket to my nose, smelling it. I'm wasn't sure why I did this, but I feel relaxed at the smell. It's familiar, like something I had forgotten long ago. Not sure what it could mean, I put the blanket back and sets the box down. "Will I- always look like this?" I motion to myself.

"We don't know," they tell me, "We don't know how you changed in the first place,"

Inhaling deeply, I nod. "...Can I not go to school tomorrow just in case?" I attempt a laugh, but it comes out broken.

My Mom doesn't hesitate to nod, "Take as long as you need, mi hijo," she tells me, kissing my forehead. Leaving the pod, the box, and my unanswered questions for another day, we return to the house to move into the living room. I sit there for a long time, talking with my parents.

We avoided the conversation of my ears by talking about my childhood- bringing up funny memories and times I would get into trouble for doing things I shouldn't.

It made me wonder if one day we would laugh about all of this too? Or would things never be the same after this? I wasn't sure. The thought scared me too much to dawdle on it.

When my 18-year-old sister, Chari- my inspiration and role model- walked into the room after returning home, I straightened my back and held my breath, waiting. Her eyes, bright with a smile, slide over our family one by one, stopping when they rested on me. Her smile fell only a small fraction, puzzled before it lit up once more.

"Pointed baby is back!" she jabbed a finger at me. "Holy shit!" she was cackling and leaping over the table to get to me.

"Chari, language, please," my mother said despite the small smile of relief pulling at her lips.

"Look at you!" she plopped down next to me and grabbed my shoulders, "You elven prince~" she said in an elegant tone.

"Y-You-" I licked his lips, startled. I wasn't sure what I was expecting, but it wasn't this, "You're okay with this?"

"My brother is a mix of Legolas and Super Man- yeah I'm okay with this! I mean, you aren't exactly Super Man, but you crashed down from space or something in a pod. I think that makes you super close to him. I've honestly just been waiting for you to show signs of super strength and heat vision." She pauses, "You haven't been hiding those from us, right? Cause now is the best time to reveal yourself. Come out of the closet and what not," she pauses, "Or is that term just for if you're gay?"

"I don't-" I sniffed a little, a broken laugh bubbling from my chest, "I don't know. I don't have super powers,"

"Aww, dang," she clicked her teeth in disappointment. "Well, I'll take what I can. You've always had this awesome aim, so we just need to get you a bow and some arrows. You could be Green Arrow!" she gasps at her own brilliance. "Mom! Dad! Where can I get that kind of stuff?"

"You aren't running off to become vigilantes," My mother chided.

"I agree with your Mother, which is why I won't tell you that they sell that kind of supplies at this hunting shop towards the end of town. Who, by the way, is having a sale this weekend on their artillery. But I wouldn't tell you that because I don't want you kids to go off and get crazy ideas into your heads."

"Edmund!" My mother scolds him, "We aren't encouraging this!"

"I'm not!' he laughs, "I'm clearly telling them not to go,"

"Hey, Dad. What's this stores address?" Chari inquires, pulling up the notes on her phone.

My father doesn't hesitate to turn to her and state it, turning around to face my Mother and say, "As a Father I'm obligated to answer my daughter honestly."

"You-" My mother grabs his ears, twisting them, "You will be the death of me yet,"

Watching them from my spot on the couch, taking in the sight, the tightness in my chest was leaving me. I still worried about when Arlo would come home in an hour, but I knew my brother. He would think this was the coolest thing since Peanuts and crackers, so I had nothing to fear.

I was grateful to have them. Grateful that I ended up in a family like this.

But- I wasn't sure how long this happiness would last.

What was I going to do about school now? Or my friends? My dreams about going to Galaxy Garrison seemed like an impossibility now….

What was I going to do?

Shifting closer to my sister, I'm surprised when she turns to me and gasped, "Oh what? No- bring them back," she commands. I'm not sure what she means and blinks at her, "You're not Legolas anymore!"

I gasp and make a grab for her phone, turning on the camera setting and turning it towards me. Realizing she was telling the truth, my hair had turned brown again, the markings were gone, and my ears rounded once more.

"Well look at that," My Dad gawks at me, "How did you do that?"

I shake my head, "I-I don't know. I was just sitting here and just- thinking?"

"What were you thinking about?" my mother inquires, pulling out her writing pad and pencil to jot down, trying to get a general idea of what to do if this happened again.

"You guys, I guess? Just- glad I have you," I tell her. My sister makes a little noise next to me, bumping our shoulders together.

"You wuv us~"

"Shut up," I hit her, grinning.

"Okay, so what were you thinking about before you transformed?" My dad asked.

"Transformed?" I question him.

"Up in the bathroom before the ears and stuff came up."

"Oh," I pause to ponder it. With everything that had happened I honestly couldn't really remember much. "I think it was something to do with school? I was stressing over my exams,"

"Stress," My mom says aloud before she writes it down, "Maybe that is what triggered it?"

"I've stressed over a lot of stuff, Mom," I tell her.

"Well, you are getting older too. Hormones and all of that make your emotions go haywire. You are a growing boy," she reminds me. "Everyone goes through it. Everyone has a rollercoaster of emotions, and mood swings. We grow, and we change, and our bodies do weird things- Everyone gets urges-"

"Mama, I'm gonna stop you right there," Chari interjects, "If this conversation is moving to 'the talk' then I'm leaving."

"No, it's not the talk," My mother rolls her eyes, "I'm just trying to throw out suggestions to why this suddenly happened. It's best to figure out what triggers your- change, and what changes you back. I'm just thinking it might be the state of your mentality or something."

"What do you mean?" I ask.

"When he's stressed he changes and when he doesn't stress he turns back," my father guessed, attempting to follow my Mother's theory.

"Yes," My mom nods, "Or it might be something else, I'm not sure. I'm just taking guesses here."

I shrug, "That could be it, yeah," I agree with her.

"Maybe we should do experiments or something to fully figure it out. Like- purposively make you stressed then calm you down and see what happens. Or make you super angry. I could go grab one of your comic books upstairs and rip it up," Chari offers.

I grab her wrist before she can move, "Don't even think about it," I warn her. Realizing she was eyeing me, but nothing happened, we both sighed, realizing irritation didn't seem to be a trigger for my… transformation.

"For now," My father concludes, "Until we can fully figure out how you can switch back and forth or anything else you might be able to do, I suggest you stay home."

"Not that I'm disagreeing with not going to school," I say slowly, "But what if it takes a while to figure out? What am I going to tell everybody?"

"For now we say you are sick. Then we can switch it some family emergency if it drags out. Summer Vacation is just around the corner, so we just have to hold out till then," he announces. We nod in agreement, the plan set.

Now all I had to do was figure out how in the world I was going to work with this and how to control it.

That was easier said than done. Especially when, two days later, after snuggling up with my cat, my entire body turned as white as her fur! I was a flipping animal suddenly- like some huge cat man! It was horrible!Chari was just cackling at me, wanting to take me for a walk and see how many people would believe I was just some big dog!

Chari was just cackling at me, wanting to take me for a walk and see how many people would believe I was just some big dog!

I couldn't drop the transformation for five hours, too freaked out to just breathe.

My family realized it wasn't just from an elf to a human that I could transform into. I could change into a lot of different things if I interacted with it or thought about it for too long.

"You're like a chameleon!" My little brother Arlo cheered. "Turn purple next!"

"Arlo, you are thinking too small," Chari tells him, "Anyone can turn purple if they just hold their breath long enough. He has to turn into something unique. Like orange! Or Aquamarine!"

"You two aren't helping!" I roar at them.

It took weeks after that to get to Summer vacation. I completely ignored my friends, but I managed to figure out a lot about myself. By the end of it, I was gearing up to head into my freshman year of high school.

With my family's help, we were able to work out the basics to my powers, or whatever you would call them. They ran off my emotions for the most part. If I was calm, I could keep my normal look.

The second I got stressed, overly angry, or really sad- any high emotion, I would change. It was hell and I wasn't sure how to stop myself from feeling.

I just had to learn how to relax and let things go. It was hard.

The more I tried to stop thinking about transforming at school the more I began to feel it wavering. I even almost slipped up in gym class, but I could hold it for the most part. Most of my time at home was me walking around with pointed ears. They were the hardest to hide.

But I was managing. Nothing was solved, but it was manageable.

I just had to work with it and get used to it, I would tell myself. It will get better eventually and things would go back to normal.

They never did. It just got worse the older I got, till it was finally the year I could enter Galaxy Garrison if I choose to. When my Mom slid the enrollment paper out to me, her eyes shining excitedly, I turned away.

She was shocked, to say the least, and tried to get me to explain why I didn't want to go.

"I'm not interested,"

"You've always been interested," She disagrees, "This is your dream."

"Well, not anymore," I said heatedly, refusing to even look at the paper.

"Mi amor," she whispers, shocked, "That can't be true."

"It is,"

"What is this suddenly about, Lance?" my mother asked softly, "You've been looking forward to going to Galaxy Garrison since you were little,"

"That was before I learned what I am, Mom!" I yell, making her jump, "Their whole programs is about exploring space and searching for alien life! If they learned that I was one somehow- or-or whatever I am, who knows what they might do!"

"Amor, you have it under control," My mother rises to her feet, "You can't let fear stop you from doing what you want to do."

"What would you know about fear, Mom?! You aren't the one who has to go through this!"

"No, but I'm your Mother!" Not often one to raise her voice, my whole body shook with shock at her tone, "I fear what might happen to you every single day, Lance! I… ever since you were little I've been afraid." She covers her mouth, her voice growing quiet, "I've been nothing but afraid. I'm your Mom after all. I don't want to lose you. Honestly, I don't want you to go to Galaxy Garrison. It is so far away, and what if something happens? But… But, Lance, my sweet baby, I know this is what you want. Being a pilot is your dream, and I know you are going to reach for the stars." when she reaches for me, my shoulders are trembling, my hair silver and my markings appearing full force. "Mi hijo," she reaches up to brush a tear from my eye.

Overwhelmed, I sniffle, "W-What if I can't control this?" I look down at my hands.

"You've controlled it for four years now, mi hijo. You'll do just fine," she tilts my head up to look her in the eyes, "I know this because I know you, Lance. You're a fighter. You are strong and brave, and so smart. You're gonna knock the socks off of those Garrison soldiers." taking the paper from the table, she holds it out to me. "If it becomes too much, you can come home. But you will always regret it if you don't at least try, Lance."

Taking the enrollment form into my trembling fingers, I scan over the top. Even if I enrolled, there was no guarantee I would even be accepted with how many people sign up a year. But…

"I-I'll try," I whisper.

"That's my boy," Hugging me close, I calmed myself by listening to the gentle beat of my Mother's heart. I wanted to try, at least.

Even if it ended up horrible, I wanted to try.