My history, the origin of my people, was what had shaped me. My people have existed since the beginning of time. We – the Winterkind – are a species akin to humans, the same size, the same sort of mind, I’m told, but with different blood. As the Winterkind have grown, we’ve split off into small clans. We’re forever nomads, following snowflakes around the globe, staying within the weather that permits us to live. Though we encounter humans, we are told to ignore them. Some Winterkind have been devious – playing pranks and throwing snow balls at humans. Pranks are easy to pull, since the humans can’t see us. We’ve never been seen.
Izar, my clan’s queen, says, “We are Winterkind: born to follow the flakes, destined to be different.” Izar always said this with a kind glimmer in her eyes. She was meaning to sound kind, and I knew she was also just trying to put a positive spin on the Winterkind’s plight. We were different – she tried to tell us we were different as in unique – but I believed we were different as in limited. We must follow the snow because if we get too warm, the blood in our veins boils and we baked. To say that the only purpose to a Winderkind’s life is to stay alive… it just doesn’t make any sense. I believed we should focus not on delaying death but on living.
The elders said us young ones must memorize the history because we needed to develop a sense of respect for our forefathers. Yet I memorized it with a different motivation. My history was captivating to me only because it angered me. I did not want to continue to do what my forefathers did – I did not want to be a Winterkind.
Thinking of my history made me sick, but it fueled my passion to do something. I could not do this for the entirety of my life – following my clan to snowy city parks across the country. My clan seemed alright with this plan, for what other choice did we have? I believed that if we talked to the humans, they could change our destiny. They were intelligent, they knew their science, and they had access to technology that we did not. They could turn our blood into human blood, and we would no longer be bound by what’s inside of us. We would be the same as the humans, and have all the opportunities they have. First I had to get the attention of a human.
Remember when I mentioned those devious Winterkind that throw snowballs? Well, that’s me. I am the only deviant. Everyone else in my clan are the kindest, most content creatures – and then there’s me. The rebel. It may seem very rude to throw things at strangers, but believe me – if you knew your destiny depended on it, you’d do it, too. And so every afternoon I threw snowballs at humans. I’ve tried other things to get their attention, but I’ve found it’s the most effective method.
I sat in a tree one afternoon, my stash of ammunition sitting on the branch beside me. I had perfect aim, since I’d been doing this for most of my life. Watching an unsuspecting human get hit in the back with a bursting snow clump, time and time again, never got old. Well, it almost never did. I was getting bored of the humans that turned to see who had attacked them, frowned, and then walked on. I just wanted one of them to turn towards my tree, and say, “Who are you?” Then I’d known that I was seen and on my way to becoming one of them.
Hours passed. I threw a snowball at a kid’s orange backpack. He whirled around, frowning.
“Hey, up here,” I said, as I always did. I just needed confirmation that I was invisible to him, too, and then I’d move on to the next human.
He turned and frowned up at me, locks of brown hair falling in his eyes. “Who are you?”
My jaw fell open. I dropped gracefully from the tree, so I could be on his level. “I’m Twila. Who are you?”
He just stared, which I thought was rude. “What are you?” He asked.
“I’m a Winterkind. You – you can see me?”
“Yeah. I have eyes, don’t I?” He poked the corners of his eyes, giggling.
“Well, yes.” He was a bit rough around the edges, maybe, but that was alright. Soon he would have sympathy and help me, and that was all that mattered. “As I said, I’m a Winterkind. I’ve been meaning to talk to someone about that. Do you know any scientists? Oh, please tell me you do.”
“A scientist? Yeah, I know like a hundred.” He guffawed, smirking childishly at me. It took me a moment to realize he was lying. “Why do you look so gross?”
“What did you say?” I gasped. Winterkind highly valued politeness, so the lack of it horrified me.
He pointed to my bear arms. “I can see, like, blood under your skin.”
I glanced at my arms. “That’s what I always look like.” The veins and arteries shown blue through my clear skin, and it was the most normal Winterkind skin I ever saw.
“Well, it’s kind of dis-cust-ing.” Then he grinned proudly. “I just learned that word at school. I should bring you in for show and tell. My friends will think you’re gross, and they all think gross things are fun.” He ran after a group of school boys farther down the sidewalk.
My mouth was left open in shock, but then I ran deep into the park so he could not find me. Oddly, my disappointment dissipated quickly. Instead I thought of Izar’s famous words.
She never meant that we were different as in bad different. She meant we were different because the world needed us to be different. “I am a Winterkind,” I murmured to myself, striding away. “Born to follow the flakes, destined to be different.”
For the first time, I did not cringe when I said ‘different.’