“Look at him.”
“What is he wearing?”
“Why would someone do that?”
“Should someone tell an elder?”
“It’s not technically against the law.”
The onslaught of whispers ricocheted off me as I made my way past the center of Sugar Spring University with my head held high. Curiosity dosed with venom was second nature for all races, it seemed.
You see, I grew up in Willow Creek – home to Vanilla’s and three Berries: Me, my mom and my pops. I was always sort of an outsider there. After all, I was the only child, and eventually teen, Berry in the entire populous. You can’t really blame Vanilla’s for being startled when a yellow individual walks into a room. And when I say yellow I mean completely yellow: hair, eyes, skin, even my unmentionables! Though, my classmates never saw that area.
According to my father, Vanilla’s were not allowed into the country of Berry and Berries were only allowed to leave under special circumstances. My pops said we were a special circumstance, though he never told me why. My mother was more tight-lipped than pops, and always seemed irritated when I brought it up, so eventually, I dropped it. Despite the secretive nature of my parents – and apparently my entire race – I was raised in the Berry culture. Taught that we were supposed to marry within our color. Taught to wear my own color. Hell, I was even named Maize because it is yellow.
The divide between Vanilla’s and Berry’s was thick, and the lack of exposure lead to a lot of teasing and bullying from my classmates. I blamed them when I was young but soon realized that their hate stemmed from the unknown. I was awkward, but I forced myself to keep trying. Eventually, I made a few friends. We had a misfit connection, like many teenagers, and they certainly weren’t the brightest or most popular, but then again, neither was I. The important thing was that we accepted each other, we looked out for each other, and that they taught me to embrace myself. Like many of them, I appreciated an alternative style. In particular, I was fond of the color black and, though it rebelled against everything I was taught, they encouraged me to express myself through my clothing.
I started wearing my normal clothing in the morning, stashing black ones in my backpack. When I arrived at school I would rush to the nearest restroom, change into clothing I liked, and then swap back into my parental approved attire before heading home. I hid it from my parents for years – three years to be exact – but every secret gets exposed eventually.
My secret came to light when the school bully sucker punched me. The fight was over before it began, with me collapsed onto cement outside of second period and a crowd of Vanilla’s laughing at my misfortune. Even though I didn’t lay a finger on the guy – literally – the school called my parents and they… well, they freaked.
Not because I was sporting a black eye and a few new lumps on my face. No, because I was wearing black. How dare I not dress like a Berry? How dare I embrace a culture that was not our own? Their disappointment was stifling, and it only grew worse when my mother went through my dresser and found an entire wardrobe filled with the offensive color. Over the next few days, I overheard my parents debating their options, but they soon decided that a simple grounding wouldn’t fix the problem.
In a desperate attempt to get me to act more like a Berry and less like a Vanilla, they shipped me off to their Berry filled home town. It took almost an entire year before I was properly vetted and allowed access into the country. By then I was old enough to refuse. However, I had long wondered what the country of Berry was truly like, and I didn’t have anything going for me in Willow Creek.
So, here I am.
Guess I wasn’t Sim enough to be accepted in Willow Creek and not Berry enough to be accepted in Sugar Springs.
A/N: Special thanks to: Pammiechick, Skcaga6, bellagorrilla, thejennifer and cecerose for creating most of the Berries in these scenes!