After sleeping under an apple tree far away from my old home, I lifted my backpack onto my back and started for school. I sneezed multiple times along the way. I must have caught a cold during that heavy rain last night. It wasn’t raining anymore, but big puddles still remained.
The sky was clear enough for me to see the mountains off in the distance, just like it usually is after a rain. Rain is usually so depressing, but it’s really ironic how it can produce such pretty sights as clear views of mountains and rainbows. That’s why I like rainy weather. I don’t like the rain per se, but I do like how I can know that it won’t last forever and will even make everything seem so much happier and brighter.
I walked into my school, a large brick building that greeted me with the bright painted words, “Edna A. Cayshun Secondary School.” I slid my ID card through the card slot next to the doors, and the doors swung open. That was for safety measures, supposedly, although I don’t know who would want to break into a school.
After a few minutes of frantic searching through the halls, I found Room 20 and walked inside. Most students ignored me, while others stared at me, frightened, and a token few gave me smug looks, namely, Laura and her cronies. Laura thinks she’s really great because of her name, which, while it might have more credence here than in other worlds, is rather ridiculous.
Names are really important here in Planet Stroavrel. Well, for people with normal names that are not based on the Chosen Mortal Names of the gods or goddesses, names don’t really matter. But for people like me who either have the actual CMNs or some derivative of them, our names affect so much of our lives.
I noticed Megan walking into the classroom, greeting everyone with a smile. Many people greeted her back, smiling…except for the evil people, who scowled. But then again, they scowled at everybody and everything good. And Megan was the epitome of niceness. However, she was also a bit naïve, which did get a bit annoying at times, though it was of no fault of her own. Her parents were extremely pious, so the gods blessed Megan by naming her the Chosen Mortal Name of Meegurncvbewa, the goddess of intelligence. People like Megan basically could only do good deeds and were impervious to bad influences, so their parents loved them since these children showed the parents’ piety, and most people like these children because they’re good influences (though there are a few people who dislike the people with good gods’ CMNs because they’re too goody-two-shoes-like). I liked her, too, which was part of the reason why, when Anilokalmosia commanded me to kill her, I couldn’t bring myself to do it, which eroded some of the evil Influence of the goddess. Bad goddesses just can’t stand goodness and good people, and neither can their powers, apparently.
Megan interrupted my thoughts. “Hey, Anita,” she said. She then noted, “You look surprised.”
“Well, I hadn’t expected you to actually still be talking to me, ever since that, you know, killing incident…”
She laughed. “But that was before, and—huh, actually, I don’t know why… I mean, you’re ev—waiiit…your eyes! They no longer have that reddish glow! So, you’ve escaped the Influence of the evil goddess Annie? You’re good now?”
I grinned. “You’re the first to notice that.”
“Wow! I can’t believe it! It’s so hard for someone with a name based on the CMN of an evil goddess to escape the Influence of that goddess!” This wasn’t prejudiced; part of the curse of having a name derived from the CMN of an evil goddess is that, not only is that person doomed to become evil, but he or she will also have a hard time getting out of the evil Influence of his or her namesake. However, if the person does escape, he or she cannot be under the Influence again, but they could be influenced (with a lower case i), like any other person, through methods such as bribery and temptation. “Yeah, I did it,” I smiled.
“So you can live with your parents again, and they won’t maltreat you, right?” asked Megan. My smile faded. “Um, it doesn’t work that way, Megan,” I said. “My parents don’t care if I’m not doomed to be evil anymore. I’m a taint on their reputation. I’m the reminder of a past incident that they just want to forget. They don’t want me. No one wants me.” I turned away to hide the tears. Oh, gods, I was being such a crybaby recently. Crying never got anybody anything, except for those spoiled tots who get whatever they want.
Megan thought for a moment. “Maybe you could live at my place! It’s not right for you to be homeless and unloved! My parents will take you in, I’m sure!” She was obviously pleased with her idea. I didn’t want to shoot it down, but I had to. “I really don’t think your parents would want me, either. I’d taint their reputation, too, though I’m not their biological child. People just don’t want to be associated with me, Megan.” Megan opened her mouth to retort, but the bell for class rung, and Mrs. Lazam started teaching precalculus.
I walked through the halls to my usual eating spot under my locker. I was a loner, and that suited me just fine. Having friends would be nice, but they weren’t necessary. I couldn’t get friends, anyway, so why worry about it? Megan, who had been walking, suddenly stopped in front of me. “Hey, Anita, it would be nice if you joined us for lunch today! You always look so lonely sitting by yourself…”
“Naw, I’m fine. Being alone is rather peaceful.” I munched on the sandwich from the cafeteria. I was glad I had the foresight to pack some money in my backpack, but I had to get money somehow. Maybe I would try for a job. I took another bite. “Are you sure?” asked Megan. “Because you could always—”
I dismissed her concerns with a wave. “Don’t worry about it.” She always offered me a seat with her and her friends at lunch, but I always declined. Besides, it wasn’t like her friends would much appreciate my being there. Sure, the people with the CMNs of good gods and goddesses would be nice, but the other people who Megan hung out with wouldn’t be so joyous about my company.
“Okay, then…” Megan started to leave. “But remember that you can join us whenever you want, okay?” She walked off, and I continued to eat my lunch. Laura and her friends walked by, and Laura helped a little seventh grader who had nearly tripped. Laura’s name was a derivative of the goddess Scadoosh’s CMN, Alaura, so she had a stronger conscience and didn’t fall to misdeeds easily. However, she still wasn’t perfect. Her kindness, for instance, didn’t extend to “my kind.” Thankfully, she ignored me, so I could eat my lunch in peace.
I was about to take another bite when a voice rudely interrupted. “Hey, Anita. Saw you talking to Miss Goody-Two-Shoes two minutes ago. Are you guys friends now or something? Aren’t you supposed to be evil? I certainly did like you better that way.”
Without looking up, I replied, “Of course you liked me better then, Jazzy. You’re evil yourself. And yes, I was talking to Megan. She has a name, you know. She’s a perfectly nice person.”
Jasmine snorted. “That’s exactly the problem! She’s too nice…you can’t be seen with her! Where’s your evilness, ‘Nita?”
“It’s gone, Jazzy! I’m not evil anymore; haven’t you noticed?”
“Aw, damn. I was hoping that you were just cleverly disguising your evil or something.” Jasmine puffed on her cigarette. I avoided the smoke. “Gosh, Anita, I thought you were my friend. Some friend you turned out to be!” She walked off.
“That was four years ago, before you succumbed to Jasyncobvee’s evil Influence! I’m not your friend anymore, and I never will be, unless you miraculously become good again, which is highly improbable!” I yelled. But Jasmine was out of earshot. Stupid Jasmine always bugged me like this and disappeared before I could tell her that we were not friends anymore.
I wished she hadn’t succumbed to her “destiny” so soon. Why couldn’t she have waited? We had promised each other that we wouldn’t allow ourselves to fall under the Influence of our “patron” goddesses until we were at least twenty, but she quit before she turned thirteen. But I knew it wasn’t her fault. She had felt hopeless, even more so than I did because her torment made my life seem like butterflies and rainbows. She was one of the unfortunate people whose names were the CMNs of bad goddesses, and, not only was she spat at and insulted every day, but she was also shoved, kicked, and sometimes left with huge injuries. I’ve always found it odd that a society that hates evil so much would actually torment people enough to turn them to the dark side.