Peer Review by Jeremy Houle (United States)

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By: marnold27

It was almost too pitiful to see him under that damn willow tree.

His shoulders were hunched, twitching as he picked at the grass and weeds between his knees. His dark jacket stood out against the golden field behind the backyard, and for a moment, Clema thought of him as a shadow. Drenched with brooding thoughts in the shadow of that tree and its drooping branches, she figured if he would do this for every tantrum.

He leaned against his father's tombstone, like he always does when he's in a mood. As Clema made her way over, treading lightly, he glanced up. She wanted to laugh from how cute and sorrowful he looked.

Her spot wasn't as wore down as his, since he only recently started taking the one next to the grave. He started this habit, a morbid one as she ever knew, when he was just a little Goof. Hardly even a twenty-four cents old, at least by goblin time. Clema couldn't believe how old he was now: fourty-eight cents old. Wow.

His heavy sigh pulled her out of her thoughts and back to the matter at hand. Comfort.

"Tuck," she sighed, placing her small hand on his back. His shoulders dropped further at the contact, as if she added another pound to his burden. Her heart hurt. "Son, listen."

Tuck turned back to her and she looked over his features again.

He looked a lot like his father. Too much, really. The same rounded cheeks, sharp neck. He had her eyes, though, dwarfish small and dark, perfect for seeing in any dim room. Clema wondered if that was what started the problem: the combination of his features. How he didn't look like the others younglings in his grade. Was he ashamed?

Clema looked away from him and rubbed slow circles on his hunched back, staring out at the golden field. "Tuck, what's wrong?"

The first sob shook and her hand anchored him. Little drops rolled down down down until they fell to his jeans, leaving dark stains. Her throat squeezed as he choked on the air.

"You've been holed up in your room for days, Tuck. Missed meals and all you seemed to do is sleep or play that. That game. What was--?"

"World of Sapiens," he managed to cough out.

"Right," she amended, feeling his spine. It seemed like the only thing that held him upright. "And your classes at school? Mrs. Wreath called and told me about how you've been tardy to most of them. I just. I just wish you'd talk to me about it--"

"There's nothing to talk about!" he growled. She snatched her hand away from him. It wasn't good to anger a goblin, or a dwarf, so a son of both would have a wicked temper. "Everything is fine! Everything's just...perfectly fine."

"It doesn't seem like it," Clema said.

He huffed. "Yeah, well..."

She peered at him, folding her arms. She leaned against his side. "You know you can talk to me."

He glanced at her again and sighed. Her sweet, little boy. "I just. I just don't know what to do..."

"About what?"

"The other kids at school. I sit in class like I always have, but they just don't really see me as me anymore."

"What do they see, then?"

Tuck pulled his knees up against his chest, heels grounded into the dirt. His arms folded and he set his forehead to lean on them. He heaved another sigh and Clema could really see all the weight on his shoulders: insults, snarled comments, his own confusion.

"They, but not really me. Like. Like not Tuck. They just see me as something different, and they don't like it." He put the words on display as though he'd been working on them for some time, mulling them over. "They don't like different. Especially the elves. Freakin' pompous, rumpus--"

"Hey!" Clema piped up. "Don't say that--"

"Why not? They say the same about me!"

"Exactly," she pointed out. "Don't be like them."

The light trails of a wind pushed against the willow tree's drooping branches, and the bright field darkened as a cloud passed across the sky. Tuck scowled at his mother before turning away again.

"Why was it him?" he muttered, staring through the leaves at the wide field. "Why did you love Dad? Why not a dwarf, like you?"

Clema shifted, leaning forward and wrapping her arms across her shins. This conversation was bound to come. All the snide remarks, all the obvious stares in public, and now all the bullying of Tuck at school: it's all led to this moment.

"Because he loved me," she breathed. "And I loved him."

That explanation wouldn't make up for the prejudice and discrimination Clema knew Tuck  would have to face in the coming years. Their society would not like the mixing of species, especially not two of the most disliked kinds: the dwarves and the goblins. It wouldn't make up for the pain Tuck would face just because others couldn't understand.

But it was certainly a start.

Peer Review

World of Sapiens! haha that's awesome.

Tuck; he's the main character.

The dad.

No, it was pretty understandable.

feeling of despair for Tuck.

Reviewer Comments

This is great! I like that this is dealing with the child of two people(well, not people) who shouldn't have been together, but they did anyway.