Chapter 31 – Fantasy or Reality
2.6k 9 110
Reading Options
Font Size
A- 15px A+
Table of Contents
Loading... please wait.

“So… how does the whole ears and tail thing work?”

Towards the end of our art class on Tuesday morning, Miss Daisy leaned in between Emily and I, peering at the two-point perspective exercises we were currently working on in our sketchbooks. Emily seemed to be mostly done with hers, having finished it fairly quickly, so she only gave hers a cursory glance before turning to watch me shakily adjust my ruler on top of my page.

“H-huh?” Emily had spaced out as soon as she finished her drawing, so she jumped slightly as Miss Daisy whispered just beside her. “What do you mean?”

“Well, yesterday you had furry ears, didn’t you? But today they’re gone.” Her eyes roved over the top of Emily’s head, as if she was trying to find something that was out of place. Emily shrunk down in her chair under her gaze, worriedly looking around at the nearby tables.

Caitlyn and Amelia weren’t in the same art class as Emily and I, so it was just the two of us alone at a table near the front of the room. The rest of the class had devolved into the meaningless chatter of students that had either finished their work and were bored, or simply couldn’t be bothered to finish it.

“I hid them,” Emily responded in a small voice, trying to make sure that no one would overhear her.

“Hid them? How?” Miss Daisy grew more excited as she hovered around Emily, her voice increasing in volume as she tried to make herself heard over the other students. “Can you transform or something?”

“W-with illusions.”

“Hey,” I interjected, giving up on my perspective drawing. “Careful! People are gonna hear us!”

Both of us are really scared about being found out! You’re not helping!

“I-I’m sorry. It’s just…” Miss Daisy seemed to wilt as I voiced my concerns, and her previous energy dissipated. “If you have time after class, could you tell me? Please?”

“U-um, okay…” 

“You too.” She suddenly turned to me, frowning for a moment as she looked over my still-unfinished work. “I’m quite curious as to what being half-spirit means.”

“Sure,” I replied. As long as no one else is in the room, it should be fine… right?

“And you can finish your work, too… if you don’t get it done by the end of the class.”

“I-I’ll get right on that.”


...Finally done. Lifting my sketchbook up off the table, I compared my drawing to the one that was projected on the whiteboard, a still frame of an instructional video that Miss Daisy had recorded for her classes. It… kinda matches up. Mostly.

Strangely enough, while my handwriting was very neat thanks to the copious amounts of studying I did in lieu of hanging out with friends, my fine motor control when it came to drawing had always been somewhat lacking. I didn’t struggle with art classes that much, since I spent enough time working that was able to finish all the tasks assigned to us, but my drawings always looked a little lopsided.

Glancing to the side, I found Emily attempting to doze off in her seat next to me. She was leaning forward with her arms crossed in front of her, and her head resting on them, face down. Her hair draped down the side of her head, blocking any view of her face as it spilled onto the table in messy waves. Every so often her ears would twitch, as one of our classmates said something particularly loud.

Did she not sleep well? She seemed kinda tired this morning…


After what had happened yesterday, both of us were not in any state to actually get anything done. Melissa offered to take me out shopping once she got home, so that I could buy a new phone, but she retracted that offer once she saw how mentally exhausted I was.

“Yeah… get some rest. You’ve had a big day.”

For most of the afternoon, Emily had been very jittery, thanks to both the stress of hiding her fox parts and her oversensitive hearing from Caitlyn and Amelia, along with being found out by Miss Daisy. She jumped at just about every sound, from a bird squawking in a tree in the neighbour’s yard, to Melissa opening the front door and calling out “I’m home!”. 

She has it much rougher than I do… All I have to do is just seem like a girl. She has to actually hide all these aspects of herself–and there’s some she can’t even hide at all.

She seemed to mentally crash as we finished dinner, however, and she ran out of energy, sleepily wandering over to the couch and nearly falling asleep as soon as she sat down. Melissa had immediately stepped in, telling her to shower and go to bed before she messed up her sleep schedule. She ended up wandering off to her bedroom at about half past nine, leaving Melissa and I awake with not much to do.

“I think I’m gonna go to bed, too.”

“You do that. You look like you’re about to fall asleep standing up.”

Mira still had yet to return from trying to find Aeriel, which left me to attempt to get to sleep on my own. My brain seemed to flip-flop between the nervousness of attending school again, and being completely exhausted from trying to get through the day.

No one’s here… At this point, it feels like I’ve spent every waking hour the past week with either Emily, Zoey, or Mira.

It’s kinda lonely, not having them around.


“Emily, the bell’s about to ring.”

As I was absentmindedly thinking about last night, I happened to glance at the clock, realising that it was nearing the end of the class. Snapping out of my reminiscence, I gently nudged Emily, who let out a soft groan as she slowly lifted herself upright.

“...I really need to get a watch,” she mumbled, her ears wiggling as she stretched out her arms above her.

The bell sounded as soon as she lowered her arms, and she jumped slightly in her seat. She seemed to handle it much better than yesterday, however, looking around calmly as all of our classmates began to file out of the art room. 

“Make sure to finish your drawing at home if you didn’t get it done!” Miss Daisy called out as everyone rushed past her.

In what felt like just a few seconds, the room had completely emptied, save for Miss Daisy, Emily, and I. The sounds of students running around for recess began to filter through the windows soon after, and Miss Daisy paused for a moment to stare outside, halfway through packing up her teaching materials.

“Hmm… how about we go to my office?” she asked, watching us from near the door as we slowly gathered our books together. “It shouldn’t take too long, but… this room might be a bit too visible. You don’t want anyone to find out, right?”

“N-no, definitely not!” Emily responded, her voice stilted. She’s still so nervous about being found out. I’m pretty sure Amelia already suspects something… what’s she going to do if she figures it out?

“Alright, we’ll head to my office, then.”


Leading us through the chain of interconnected rooms in the art wing, Miss Daisy stopped in front of a door bearing the label of “Art Coordinator's Office”, sitting at the end of a corridor surrounded by filing cabinets. The background chatter of students on their break was muffled somewhat by the rooms separating us from the schoolyard, instead replaced by the hum of a nearby computer, situated next to a big, elderly-looking printer.

“Sorry, it’s a bit of a mess,” Miss Daisy said as she opened the door, with the same kind of fond tone you would use when inviting a friend into your bedroom.

“...You weren’t kidding.” Emily, being quite a bit taller than Miss Daisy, peered over her shoulder into the office. 

What’s it like? I can’t see past you two!

Following closely behind Emily as she carefully stepped into the room, I realised why she had reacted that way.

The office was fairly long and narrow, situated between two different art rooms. Two long desks ran along either side of it, reducing the standing space even further. The desks themselves were covered in a sea of papers and canvases, all containing various completed or half-finished paintings and drawings. 

Two empty spaces were cleared out, one in front of a computer near the back of the office, and the other just a little ways along the desk, closer to the entrance. In both cases, low stacks of books formed a barrier around the clearings, guarding both the computer, and the sketchbook and pencils in the other space from the masses of paper bearing down on them.

“Flora? Can you close the door?”

“O-oh, right.” Miss Daisy’s request distracted me from my wonderment at just how chaotic her office was, and I quickly spun around and closed the door, twisting the lock on the doorknob as well.

Don’t want someone to just barge in while we’re halfway through all this!

Turning back towards the other two, I watched as Miss Daisy rummaged around through a particularly high stack of papers, with Emily standing just behind her, anxiously shifting her weight back and forth as she held her pencil case and art book. She muttered slightly as she dug through it, letting out a groan when she reached the bottom of the stack.

“Where is it…” Moving on to a different, just-as-high stack of papers, her eyes lit up as she found a large plastic slip, and she pulled it out triumphantly. “Found it!”

Moving back to the empty space with her sketchbook and pencils, she gently laid the plastic slip on top of the nearby stack of papers, before quickly moving her sketchbook and pencils over to the free space in front of her computer.

“What’s that?” Emily asked, hopping back as Miss Daisy rushed past her.

“It’s–um,” Miss Daisy quickly made her way back to the plastic slip, picking it up before we could take a look at it. “It’s a…”

She hesitated as she held the plastic slip protectively, hovering over the empty space without making any movements.

“I’m… trying to draw a comic.”

Taking a deep breath, she pulled the papers inside out of the plastic slip, laying them out in the free space in front of her.

“I-I know it doesn’t really suit an old fart like me,” she began, stepping to the side to let us read it, “but… I really like fantasy... and making stories, so…”

Her voice trailed off as both Emily and I looked over her sketches. Of the five pages that were laid out, the leftmost two contained what seemed like references for the characters. They were depicted in a fairly generic pose, repeated a few times for some characters that were wearing different outfits. Next to these outfit references were a few small drawings of the characters from the shoulders up, from various angles and with many different facial expressions.

“This girl is…” Emily’s gaze seemed to catch on the top-most character drawn on the second reference page, who only had a single drawing as reference, a conspicuous blank space next to it where the smaller drawings should have been.

She has fox ears… just like Emily.

Miss Daisy jumped forward as Emily pointed at the character, swiftly picking up the second reference page and holding it in front of her. “Ah–yes, that’s…” She averted her eyes awkwardly, lowering the paper slightly as she hesitated.

“This is going to sound weird, but… can I use you as a reference for her?”

“H-huh?” Emily reached her right hand up to scratch at the base of her nearly-invisible ears. “What do you mean?”

“Well, I’m really interested in fantasy–especially folklore-based fantasy–so I wanted most of my characters to not be human. She’s a Japanese Kitsune–the fox deity, so I’ve been trying to read Japanese comics as a reference, but I can’t get a good grasp on how her ears would move, or how they’re attached to her head, and so on. Layla has furry ears too, but hers aren’t quite the right shape or size, and they don’t move anywhere near as much as I want my character’s ears to move. So…”

She paused for a moment, having said the last few sentences in a single breath.

“Can I look at how your ears move and use them as a reference?”




“I thought she’d never let us go…”

It took a bit of convincing on Miss Daisy’s part to get Emily to release the illusions on her ears, but once she did, Miss Daisy immediately picked up her sketchbook, circling around Emily and creating sketches at an alarming rate. 

“You weren’t even the one being used as a reference!” Emily retorted, slumping her shoulders forward.

“Yeah, but next class she’s probably gonna interrogate me just as much.”

I had been left standing awkwardly to the side as Emily was being sketched, watching as she stood in the middle of the room, folding her ears back or making them droop down at Miss Daisy’s commands.

“I’m just glad we still have some of recess left.”

Despite feeling like forever, Miss Daisy had released us in less than 10 minutes, so we still had at least half of recess left.

“I can’t keep you for too long,” she had said as we picked up our books, trying not to disturb the stacks of paper we had shoved aside to make room. “Next time, though, can you tell me how being a half-spirit works?”

With that request, and a quick reminder from me for Emily to hide her ears, we began making our way to the lockers halfway through recess.


“Emily! Flora!”

As we approached the door closest to our lockers, Caitlyn called out to us from the side. 

“Oh, hey you two,” Emily responded, lifting a hand away from her books to wave at Caitlyn and Amelia, who were running up to us from a nearby bench.

“Where’ve you been?” Caitlyn immediately dashed up alongside Emily as we went inside. “We didn’t see you at the lockers.”

“Oh, the art teacher asked us to stay behind for a bit. She wanted to…” Emily paused for a bit, as if trying to think up an excuse. “She wanted to chat to Flora for a bit, since she just transferred and all. I stayed behind with her.”

“Ah, right.”

As the two of them quickened their pace, thanks to Emily’s eagerness at having something to eat, Amelia sidled up next to me.

“How was… your class?” She asked in her usual quiet, hesitant voice.

“It went fine… I think. What about yours?”

“Alright, I guess…”

The two of us grew silent, content to just listen to Caitlyn and Emily’s animated conversation ahead of us. They both seemed to be complaining about the various other students in our classes, and just how noisy they all were.

“Like–some of us are trying to work, here! I know it’s just IT, and some people find it super easy, but some of us actually want to learn something from these classes, unlike apparently 90% of our year level.”

“I know, right? And like, first one group starts talking, and then when the next group starts talking, suddenly they have to try and be louder.”

“And then the first group gets louder again just so they can hear each other over the other group.”

“And then a third group starts talking because they can’t concentrate, and they have to be louder still.”

They both paused just in front of the lockers, taking a deep breath.

“And it sucks,” they said in unison.


Once Emily and I had grabbed our snacks, we began backtracking to the door we had just entered.

I remembered to pack a lunch today, at least.

Walking down the corridor in the same formation as earlier, Caitlyn spun around briefly, gesturing for Amelia and I to hurry up as we lagged behind.

“Come on, I don’t want anyone to steal our spot!”

Roughly pushing the door outside open, the four of us filed through to the courtyard. As soon as we were outside, Amelia uncharacteristically dashed forward, making her way to a tree off to the side. She flopped down beside it as we caught up, resting her back against it.

“You’ll get bark in your hair,” Caitlyn commented dryly.

“I-it’s comfy.” Amelia looked away shyly, a slight blush on her face.

“Right–anyway.” Turning her attention away from Amelia, Caitlyn began to stare pointedly at me. “It’s you that I’m curious about, here.”


“I wanna know more about you.” She leaned forward, before lifting herself up on her hands and knees and crawling towards me. “You seem interesting–and you’re a friend of Emily’s, too.”

Emily quickly shuffled to my side, holding her arm out in front of me to block Caitlyn.

“Hey, hey, hold up. I told you yesterday not to overwhelm her. You’re too pushy.”

“Yeah, but-” Her voice cut off as Emily lurched forward, physically placing herself between us.

“And besides... “ Having stopped Caitlyn, she pointed to the side, where Amelia was sitting.

She’s… asleep?

Amelia had slumped backwards against the tree, her eyes shut. Her arms draped loosely on her lap, crossed over each other, and her legs stuck out in front of her. 

Caitlyn immediately quietened down, backing away from me and returning to her seated position in the small circle we had formed near the tree.

“Alright–I’ll… wait,” she reluctantly said, keeping her voice soft. “You do seem interesting, though.”


We spent the rest of recess in relative quiet, listening to the sounds of the younger year levels playing in the nearby oval. Amelia began to stir as the bell rang, slowly lifting herself upright and dusting off her clothes as she tried to stifle a yawn.

“What have we got now?” Caitlyn asked, already about to walk off to the lockers.


“Wait–” What am I going to do?

I quickly scrambled upright as Emily answered Caitlyn’s question. Rushing to her side, I was about to pull her away so that we could talk privately, but she held up a hand to stop me.

“You don’t have your sports uniform yet, so I’m pretty sure the PE teacher is expecting you to sit out the first week.”

“Oh… right.” Of course. I’m a transfer student, so of course they’d expect that. I also made my uniform out of spirit energy this time, which might have been a mistake. What would I have done about getting changed?

...What am I doing about the changing room, anyway?

“Um… Flora?” As I became lost in my thoughts, Amelia tugged at my sleeve, pulling me back to reality. “...Can I ask you something?”

“Uh–sure. What is it?”

She glanced around for a moment, watching as Emily and Caitlyn disappeared back inside, before speaking up in a quiet voice.

“Um… a-are you and Emily dating?”

“...huh?!” I froze as the heat began to rise to my cheeks, and my heart started to pound in my chest.

D-dating? I haven’t even thought about dating since… since my transformation. But… Melissa thought we were dating at first, too. Do we really seem like that?

“I-I’m sorry!” Amelia backpedalled upon seeing my startled expression and likely very red face, looking away as if she had done something wrong and didn’t want to face me. “I’m… sorry if I’m just making assumptions, but… you two seem really close. And you suit each other well, too.”

“D-do we really?”

“Yes!” she exclaimed, her voice slightly shrill. “She… seems really protective of you, so–like with Caitlyn just before. She’s not like that with either of us…”

Taking a deep breath, I tried to shake off my embarrassment, a few memories from the past week surfacing in my mind. She did… we both did stuff to each other that… I think I can see how she got that impression, but...

“Um–n-no… we’re not dating.”

“Aww.” Amelia seemed to deflate slightly at my response, though her energy quickly returned as her face turned pale, and she looked back at me worriedly. “I-I’m sorry if you find it weird–it’s just… I’ve talked to Emily about this sort of stuff before, and… she seemed fine with it, so I thought–I'm sorry if you're not okay with-”

“No, it’s not that.” I waved my hands in front of myself, trying to cut off Amelia’s sentence before she made an unpleasant assumption. “It’s just… some things have happened, e-especially recently, so I haven’t even thought about dating–like at all.”

I’ve talked to Grace about what it was like for her… though I’ve never even thought about my own situation when it comes to dating!

“O-okay… right… I’m sorry if I brought up something unpleasant.”

“No, it’s fine. Don’t worry about it.”

Amelia awkwardly reached out towards my hand, before pulling away and slowly walking towards the school building.

“W-we should probably get going, so we’re not too late.” She paused for a moment, looking back at me to make sure that I was coming too.


“And–um, about earlier… don’t tell Emily–or Caitlyn–about this, but… I-I meant it when I said that you two suit each other really well.”

She had a shy smile as she whispered the last few words, a slight blush rising to her cheeks.

“Y-yeah… okay…”


I… I don’t even know how to respond to that! Emily and I… dating? I-I don’t even know what she thinks of me! Amelia’s right, though… She does seem kinda protective of me–and she’s been… very enthusiastic about physical contact, but…

As I rummaged around inside my locker for my school diary, which I had to take to every class, a strange thought popped up in my head.

Wait... Amelia said something about what Emily did just before, with Caitlyn, but… I thought she was asleep at that point. Was she just pretending? Or did she fall asleep halfway through it?

Glancing up, I found Amelia standing next to me, a plastic bag with her sports uniform and shoes hanging from her arm.

“Come on, let’s go,” she said, her voice much more energetic than before.

“Yep, coming.”

Hmm… it’s probably nothing.