The Girl with the Green Eyes

ONE

I was nine years and two months old when I realised that there was something wrong with me. I had suspected for some time that I was a bit different to some of my friends. That some of the things I said and did – not to mention some of the things that just seemed to happen around me – were a bit... off. Like the time everyone in my class was laughing at Robbie Miller doing impressions in the playground and I just stood there, not laughing, until, one by one they all turned to me and fell silent. Or that day in the park when my sister, Maya, turned from her perch on the climbing frame and gave me the oddest look until I glanced behind me to see a great crowd of toddlers all clustered about, just watching me. And then there was Katie Jennings, that little moron from next door. Well, I warned her what would happen if she kept lying to me.

I didn't know why I was different. I didn't do it on purpose. I never demanded that my friends stop laughing at Robbie. I didn't make those little kids follow me out of the playground and halfway home. It wasn't my fault their parents all freaked out. And with Katie... well, someone needed to punish her. Every time one of these things happened I'd see the way other people were looking at me – my friends, my sister, my mother – and that feeling would tickle over the surface of my skin like a mosquito looking for a juicy spot to pierce. Oh. That wasn't normal. That wasn't 'right'. That was the off thing, again. But I didn't know for sure that it was wrong. Not until the day in September when my mother bundled me into the car, drove me hundreds of miles to the house of a stranger and told him: Bella is defective. You need to take her back.