Changeling- a being in West European folklore and folk religion, typically described as the offspring of a fairy, troll, elf, etc. that has been secretly left in the place of a human child.
I put my feet on the bleacher seat, curling up so that my chin rested on my knees, hiding my freakishly long legs. The rest of the girls' basketball team ran up and down the court, preparing for the weekend game.
My breath puffed out and I hugged my elbows, easily reaching them around my legs. One of the other bench warmers was staring at me, so I dropped my arms and averted my gaze. I was too clumsy to play basketball- something I had expressed to my mother only yesterday. I closed my eyes as I recalled Mom's expression as she glared up at me, drawing herself up to her full height, which put her head at about my mid-chest (and then only because of her two-inch heels). "Look at you," she had said in exasperation, "you'll be an amazing player some day." She waved her hand at me in one of those all-encompassing gestures. "You just have to grow into it." Then she had sighed, knowing she was being stubborn. "All teenagers are awkward, Lena, it gets better with age. I would die to be that tall."
I snorted at the memory, and the gawker down the bench raised her eyebrows. Sick of being on display, I stood and headed to the locker room. Practice was almost over, and if I hurried, I could change before I was surrounded by a sea of curvy midgets.
I threw on a t-shirt, jeans, and a baggy hoodie that hid my flat, slender body. Then I pulled my long, ash colored hair into a messy ponytail and slipped out the back door of the gym. I heard footsteps approaching and ducked around the corner, but it was just Ian. I popped out from my hiding spot and he jumped, his hearing not nearly as acute as mine. I could hear frequencies only a dog would notice, I thought, rolling my eyes.
I slipped my backpack over my shoulder and fell into step beside my childhood friend. "Long time no see," I said, sizing him up. "I see you still haven't had that growth spurt yet."
He hunched his wide shoulders defensively, then catching himself, he stood up taller. Poor guy. He was the shortest one in our class, left behind when the rest of the guys had shot up to adulthood. Next to me he looked like an ant.
"And you haven't stopped growing," he groused, his blue eyes darting upward and away. I shrugged, trying not to give him the satisfaction. It wasn't my fault that trolls were taller than humans.
I clenched my teeth. I was a changeling, swapped at birth with my parents' human child. I had no idea what had happened to the human baby, but here I was, unwanted by my magical kin.
I plastered a smile on my face so Ian wouldn't ask me what was wrong. Leaning close, I ruffled his thick brown hair. "Aww... cheer up shorty. C'mon, I'll buy you ice cream."
He slapped my hand away and glared, his eyes snapping with blue fury. "Knock it off Amazon!"
I kept walking, and he followed. "Since you're buying, I'm getting a large shake."
I grinned and nodded. "Sure," I said in a motherly voice, "a growing boy like you needs all the help he can get."