Last week we announced that Luke Loaghan’sShape Shifters of the Suburbs is our Kids Corner Book of the Week and the sponsor of our student reviews and of thousands of great bargains in the Kids Book category:
Here’s the set-up:
Its harder than you think…to be an 8th grade shape shifter. Breccan is a middle school student who has been able to keep a secret his entire life. He can deal with jerks at school, home works, tests, sports, and female friends that want his attention. But when a evil force attacks his home, his mother, and his town…how much longer can he hide the fact that he is a shape shifter? Breccan must create a manifestation strong enough to battle a horrific creature that wants him dead. Is he strong enough…mentally and physically to stop the evil that hunts him? This is the story of a boy growing up in a Long Island suburb and the challenges that he faces in trying to live an ordinary life when he is anything but ordinary.
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And here, for your reading pleasure, is our free excerpt:
The boy was no where to be found. The teacher checked the closet twice. It was the last place he had been seen. The principal also checked the closet and the hallways, and the assistant principal checked the bathrooms. In her forty-third and final year teaching kindergarten, Mrs. Schwimmer had never lost a child before this morning. But this had been an unusual day from the start.
Earlier that chilly September morning, Mrs. Schwimmer was sitting at her desk. Clinton Elementary School in Oyster Bay, New York was one of the finest elementary schools in all of Long Island and all of the state. Mrs. Schwimmer was organized and had taken care of every little detail. She was well prepared – her lessons, her homework, her class parties, everything was planned in advance. It was safe to say that all her ducks were always in a row.
At 7:30 a.m. the principal, entered her classroom. He was barely 30 years old, a baby faced man with a stocky build. “There will be a last minute addition to your class,” he said.
She was not amused by his smile, nor his intrusion. She looked at him and thought that she had handbags older than the principal. “There cannot be. I do not have any more space… not to mention extra desks or chairs. ”
“Sorry Mrs. Schwimmer, but there is a new student, just moved here from Beijing a few months ago.”
Mrs. Schwimmer sat up in her chair, her glasses resting on the mid part of her nose. Her wrinkled face twitched in sheer annoyance.
“Does he speak English?” she asked.
“I do not know. Have not met him.”
“Give him to someone else, someone younger and not retiring,” she
“Mrs. Schwimmer, I am afraid you are the best and always will be the best. He will be your student,” pandered the principal.
“What is his name?” asked Mrs. Schwimmer.
“What a nice Chinese name,” the teacher muttered sarcastically.
Mrs. Schwimmer removed her glasses, and paused in silence for more than a minute. “That’s fine. I’ll be his teacher,” she said scowling.
The class of twenty eager new kindergarten students sat in their assigned seats. Some were smiling, most were terrified. There had been four criers, overall not too bad. The boy from Beijing was the last to enter the room. A desk and chair had been brought into the classroom and placed in the rear near the closets.
The boy entered wearing a white buttoned down shirt and blue jeans. Mrs. Schwimmer asked him his name. He did not answer. The boy was not wearing a name tag, the only child in the classroom without one.
“Breccan Johnson, please follow me.” She held his hand and walked him to the empty seat next to the girl with the big eyes. Her name tag read Serenity Chamberlain. Mrs. Schwimmer walked back to her desk, and started discussing the rules of the classroom.
“No calling out, please raise your hand if you have a question. If you need to use the bathroom, do not wait until the last minute to ask. I have a hall pass. Raise your hand and say ‘I need to use the bathroom,’ then I will give you the hall pass and you will go two doors down and use the bathroom. Boys, please use the Boys Bathroom. Girls, please use the Girls bathroom.”
Mrs. Schwimmer continued to speak about the rules of Kindergarten, as she had done for forty two years. She was precise, succinct, and had the mannerisms of a prison warden. She stopped speaking when she noticed the empty chair in the back of the classroom and glanced throughout the room.
“Where is Breccan Johnson?” she asked. The class remained silent. “Where is the boy that I just brought to his chair?” There was no answer. A class full of terrified faces stared back at Mrs. Schwimmer.
“Serenity Chamberlain, where is the boy who was sitting next to you?”
Serenity had straight hair, with recently cut bangs, and dimples. She was not afraid (much to the amazement of the rest of the class.) She had the answer, proudly smiled from ear to ear, and pointed to the closet. “He went there.”
The closet was full of jackets and backpacks. It was fifteen feet wide, and eight feet high. The closet’s sliding doors were closed. Mrs. Schwimmer marched over and quickly pulled open the doors and stuck her head into the closet.
“Mr. Johnson?” There was no answer. “Breccan!” she called out, but still no answer. She searched the closet, lifting the jackets and backpacks, but there was no sign of him. “Breccan Johnson, are you in there?” She searched again, this time more thoroughly. Mrs. Schwimmer realized that she was getting older, but did not think she was so old that she could lose a five year old boy before ten a.m. “Why didn’t I take early retirement?” she muttered.
“Serenity Chamberlain…are you certain he went into the closet?” asked Mrs. Schwimmer.
“I saw him go into the closet,” Serenity nodded with both confidence and certainty. “He is still there.”
Mrs. Schwimmer continued to search, but the closet was dark and filled tightly with backpacks, jackets and classroom apparatus.
Five minutes had passed, and Mrs. Schwimmer continued to call out his name. “Breccan? Breccan! Breccan Johnson. Breccan Johnson.” There was no answer. No sign of the boy. Mrs. Schwimmer was perspiring. Several other students went into the closet to look for the boy. Ten minutes had passed since he disappeared, and the kindergarteners deduced that he must have escaped through a secret door.
“It’s probably… a magic…secret door,” said one mystified kindergarten student. “No one can find it…because…it…is… magic…and a secret. Its gotta be the only way, the only answer, like …the only way.”
Other students concluded that he was invisible.
Mrs. Schwimmer was annoyed by all the theories, not to mention petrified, and she used her classroom’s phone to call the principal. “There is no sign of him,” she said. The principal arrived shortly with the assistant principal. They acted like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. The principal searched the closet and determined that Breccan had left the classroom without Mrs. Schwimmer noticing. Mrs. Schwimmer resented the implication.
“If he had walked out of the classroom, everyone, including myself, would have noticed.”
“I’ll find him!” called out Serenity while raising her hand. She ran to the closet while the adults argued. Seconds later, Serenity emerged from the closet holding the boy’s hand and brought him back to his seat.
Mrs. Schwimmer said “Never mind, he is no longer invisible,” and asked the principal and assistant principal to leave her classroom. Mrs. Schwimmer could not comprehend how she could not find Breccan after a ten minute search, but it had taken Serenity just seconds.
“Please do not leave your seat again,” said Mrs. Schwimmer as she pointed to the boy’s chair. The rest of the class sat in awe. Breccan had them wondering how he disappeared. “Was it magic?” they whispered to each other. Serenity giggled.
At recess, the class went outside to the grassy school yard. Although most of the children did not know each other, a highly organized game of tag quickly started. Breccan stood in the far corner, too shy to play.
Serenity was giggling and chasing another girl when she noticed Breccan standing alone with a beautiful monarch butterfly on his shoulder. Its wings were larger than any butterfly she had ever seen. As she approached, the butterfly flew away. Breccan held his hand open and a small yellow bird landed in his palm. The bird flew away after a few seconds.
Serenity smiled, noticing Breccan’s ability to attract animals. She extended her hand toward Breccan and invited him to play tag. He placed his hand in hers and joined in the fun.
At the end of the first day of kindergarten, Mrs. Schwimmer asked the class to draw a picture of their home. The children were given construction paper, crayons, and a pencil. All the children drew scraggly pictures of a house, the sun, a tree, and the sky. Some drew their mother, father, and siblings. A few children drew their dog or cat.
Breccan’s picture was a little different. Mrs. Schwimmer looked at Breccan’s scraggly drawing of a domed building with many different colors, wide steps, and in the far corner was the sun. Next to the sun was a long object with a face, wings, and a wide open mouth.
“Breccan, what did you draw?” asked Mrs. Schwimmer.
“This is the Temple of Heaven, and this is a dragon swallowing the sun. This is where I am from. This my home.”
Mary Johnson always wanted a child. Following the tragic death of her fiancé, she had spent her entire life dedicated to her career. By the time she was 44 years old, it was too late to have a child naturally. She decided to adopt. As a single working woman, she was out of luck in the United States. She contacted Chinese adoption agencies, but was initially rejected. First, they rejected her for her work schedule. Then they rejected her for being single. Nonetheless, Mary was determined to succeed and continued to apply. She remained optimistic and prayed that one day she would be granted her wish.
A few years later, the Chinese policy on adoption became more stringent, and she was denied for being unmarried. However, Mary learned that the Chinese adoption agency would make exceptions in the case of special needs children or children older than 3 years old. Mary remained hopeful and continued the adoption process.
Mary’s friends on Facebook were mostly supportive, but some suggested that she needed to be realistic and end her persistence. Rejection letters from China became the norm. But Mary is not the type of person to give up so easily on a lifelong desire.
She had worked at an advertising firm for most of her adult life, earning a good living. The costs of the adopting a child and traveling to China were adding up, and Mary at times became disheartened. She rarely went out to dinner, or the movies, and recently moved from an apartment in Manhattan to a home in Oyster Bay, Long Island.
When her work schedule improved (she was laid off), Mary started her own advertising agency out of her home. She saw everything as a blessing in disguise. Her friends in the industry felt sorry for her, but she was still smiling.
On her forty-ninth birthday, the reality of never having a child started to set in. China had a strict law preventing anyone over fifty years old from adopting a child. The rule was created to prevent an adopted child from having to care for an elderly parent.
One day everything changed. It wasn’t the first time, or the last time that her life changed in an instant. Mary received an email from the agency in China stating that they had a child whom she could adopt. She glanced at the statue of the Angel Gabriel in her living room, and felt that her luck had turned around. Her prayers and persistence had paid off. She started day dreaming of having a child in her home and soon thereafter bought a plane ticket to Beijing.
In China, she had more agency interviews and a pile of paperwork to complete. Between interviews, Mary had a couple of days with nothing scheduled. She decided to do some sight seeing and took a one hour trip outside of Beijing to the Great Wall of China. She entered from Juyonguan Pass. The entrance was surrounded by mountains with hundreds of kilometers of the Great Wall. It was a postcard worthy picturesque view, and she felt transported back in time to medieval China. Mary climbed the steep steps of the Great Wall, pausing several times to catch her breath. She noticed a small boy at the top of the first pavilion waving to his mother who was standing next to her. She glanced down for a second and thought about how much she really wanted a child. Her emotions became overwhelming.
The next day, Mary went to the Forbidden City, and was immediately taken aback by the majesty of the twenty six foot high red entrance doors, and the gold colored door ornaments. When Mary entered the courtyard, she immediately felt like a very tiny part of the world and like a spec of dust in all of time. It was a breath taking site. She was so overwhelmed she almost felt she was having an out of body experience. The courtyard seemed to swirl around her.
There was no trace of modern Beijing from the courtyard of the Forbidden City. Gone were the hundreds of massive cranes for construction that displayed progress. Outside of the Forbidden City were hundreds of skyscrapers rising simultaneously, but one could not tell. It was like no other place she had ever been to on the entire planet. She stopped to stare at the grand halls, intricate carvings on the stone steps, bronze lions, and gigantic sculptures of tortoises. The ground was lined with brick stones, some old, some recently replaced.
Mary was in China by herself, and feeling isolated. There were many children with their parents taking pictures. She tried not to consider the possibility of another rejection from the adoption agency. Friendly people approached and took her picture. They tried to speak to her, but Mary did not speak a word of Mandarin. She just smiled and bowed.
She had lunch at local noodle house. Mary was able to communicate by pointing to pictures of food in the menu. She needed a drink and pointed to a poster of a soft drink on the restaurant’s wall. When she was finished, the waitress brought a bill – 50 Yuan. She paid the bill, amazed at how cheap the food was compared to meals in New York.
Later that afternoon, Mary went to the Temple of Heaven. It was an architectural wonder. She walked along the long corridor to the entrance of the park, and once again she felt she had traveled back in time to ancient China. The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest was designed in a circular structure that exemplified perfection from every angle. Ropes prevented anyone from entering the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, which was not only the main building but also the grandest. When she peered in to take a picture, she noticed the intricate designs and the seven pillars holding up the Temple. A small boy in white clothing was hiding behind a massive pillar and smiling at her. A split second later he was no longer there. Were her eyes playing tricks on her? Was it an apparition? She wondered.
Mary went to the Temple of the Sun and stood in the center. She became the central piece in a large ancient sundial. She gazed towards the Heavens with her arms spread out. People took her picture.
The next day, at the adoption agency, the agent handling Mary’s file explained in fairly decent English that they recently received a boy ready for adoption.
“He is about five years old. Ms. Johnson, we do not know anything about this boy. He was found in the Temple of Heaven, abandoned by a caretaker who left a note that the boy was possessed by sorcery and had the ability to vanish. He may have behavioral issues. He has not spoken to anyone here, and does not seem to understand basic instructions. I am afraid that he may be a challenge for you. but he is yours if you want him.”
Mary was a little intimidated about the notion that the boy was possessed by sorcery. “Sometimes villagers are very superstitious and have a hard time accepting behavioral problems,” explained the adoption agent.
They brought the boy to Mary. He was wearing white clothing, and to her surprise, was identical to the boy she thought she had seen in the Temple of Heaven. The boy was shy, but slowly raised his head and looked her directly in the eye.
Mary approached him, and said “Hello.” The boy did not speak, but very slightly smiled at her.
“How long has he been here?” asked Mary.
“Several weeks,” said the agent. “Also, he came with a box of items that belong to him, but we have misplaced the box. When we find it, we can send it to you.”
How could she have possibly seen him in The Temple of Heaven yesterday if he was at the orphanage for several weeks? Mary dare not tell the agent that she was positively sure that this was the same boy from inside the Hall of the Prayer for Good Harvests.
The boy reached out towards her hand. Mary felt a warm energy from his soft hand. She was overcome with emotions, and tears started to stream down her face. She nodded to the adoption agent that she wanted him.
The adoption agent stood up and held Mary’s other hand.
“Every Parent has a unique challenge, because every child is unique,” the agent said. “Maybe…this boy more unique than most.”
The next day they were on a plane back to New York. The boy ate the airplane food, but did not sleep on the 19 hour flight. When they arrived at her home by cab, she made him chicken soup. The adoption agent had said that the boy did not have a name, but because he was found in the Temple of Heaven, the agency called him Tianzi. This meant Son of Heaven.
Mary continued to speak to him, but the boy did not speak back to her. She had a box of toys for him. Mary had prepared the box of toys nearly seven years ago in anticipation of giving it to her child one day. He looked at the stuffed animals, the toy cars, the toy robots, but it was the jack in the box that caused him to laugh out loud. It had taken him by surprise, and totally filled his face with sheer joy.
She named him Breccan Tianzi Johnson. She took him to the bathroom, and showed him the toilet. He nodded. Mary was fully aware that toilets in China were the type that were in the floor. So she sat him down and explained how to use it. The boy did not understand at first, and Mary giggled trying to demonstrate how to use a western toilet.
Then she gave him a bath, and for the first time noticed that he had a jade pendant tied to a red string around his neck. The pendant was a square inside a circle, just like the design from the Temple of Heaven. Mary knew from her tour that the earth was symbolized by the square, and the universe was the circle. It was light green jade, had gold trim, and its imperfections indicated that it was hand made. It shimmered in the light, and upon closer inspection was cloudy with hints of purple colors in the stone. They watched a little television, and then she put him to bed.
At three a.m. Mary Johnson woke up worried that the adoption had been a dream. She went into Breccan’s room to check on him, but also to satisfy her feeling of disbelief. She opened the door expecting to find a five year old boy asleep, but instead, there was a golden retriever puppy in the bed staring at her.
Mary was frightened that Breccan had run away. Then she considered that he might have been kidnapped. She checked the closet and under the bed. He was no where in the room. She was about to check the rest of the house when Mary noticed that the puppy was wearing a familiar jade necklace around his neck. The dog sat up, peacefully staring at her. The dog smiled and started to wag its tail. She could see into the dog’s brown eyes that it was Breccan. She sat next to the dog and rubbed his head. Mary was not alarmed or frightened.
“Breccan, if that is in fact you, I need you to become a boy again.” The dog continued wagging his tail, rolled onto his back, and transformed into Breccan the boy.
Mary had waited her entire life for a child, and now she understood the challenge ahead of her. The boy was not possessed by sorcery, and he did not have behavioral problems. The boy from the Temple of Heaven was different. “Every parent has a unique challenge because every child is unique,” whispered Mary to herself, echoing the words of the adoption agent.
Mary put Breccan back to sleep and went downstairs to her living room. She sat on the couch contemplating her situation. She had waited years to have a child, and had persisted despite years of rejection after rejection. She had expected a child with special needs or behavioral problems. But this was different and completely unexpected. Mary was happy to have a son, and desperately wanted to find a way to make a young boy from China fit in a normal suburban American life. She thought about home schooling him, but because she wanted to work, this was not an option. She wondered if he could actually control his transformational ability and if he was mature enough to keep it under wraps in public. Of course, she still had to find a way to communicate with him.
She did an internet search for “Human changes into animal” and came across the word “Therianthropy.” It meant the ability for a person to transform into an animal. The internet search displayed that shape shifting existed in the mythology of every culture, in every part of the world. Mary read that even in China, shape shifting was a common occurrence in ancient legends. Shape shifting was also very common in Native American folklore. There were shape shifters who could only transform into one animal such as a wolf, dog, bear, or wild cat. But there were also stories of shape shifters that could transform into any animal. There were ancient Greek and Roman myths about shape shifting, as well as myths from India, Mexico, and Japan. Mary learned that shape shifting was typically the result of being cursed by the Gods, but it could also happen through a shaman’s spiritual practice, or being born with the ability. After several hours or searching on the internet, she turned the computer off and sighed. “My son is a shapeshifter.” She decided to deal with it.
The next day, Breccan awoke and came downstairs. Mary had made pancakes. Breccan stood waiting at the entry way of the kitchen, not knowing whether or not he should enter. Mary walked over and said, “Breccan Tianzi Johnson, you do not need permission to enter the kitchen. Sit where ever you please.” She motioned to the old wooden kitchen table and chairs. Breccan sat, and Mary began to teach him English.
She held a cup, and said “cup.” Breccan stared in silence. She poured milk into the cup and said “Milk.” Breccan remained silent. She held the cup to his mouth, and he took a sip, spitting it out. Mary grabbed chocolate syrup from the refrigerator, poured it into the cup of milk. She then stirred it for a minute. She pointed to the cup, and told Breccan to try it. He stared at the cup, not understanding that it would taste different. She held the cup to his mouth and he took a sip and smiled. He drank all of it immediately.
Mary kept pointing to the cup and saying “cup.” Breccan said “cup.” She smiled.
Mary reached for the milk, and said “milk” and heard Breccan say “milk.” They started to eat the pancakes. Mary pointed to herself and said “Mom.” Breccan stared at her and smiled, then repeated “Mom.” The spectacular art of conversation that was taking place between mother and son was ordinary to most families, but extraordinary to this one.
April ended with Breccan learning nearly 100 words. The boy was smart, and his brain was a sponge. By the end of May, Breccan learned three hundred more words.
Mary and Breccan went to the supermarket one morning. He walked close behind her, and was amazed and overwhelmed by the selection of fruits, vegetables, and all the different kinds of food.
Mary spent all her free time with Breccan. That summer, they frequently went to the beach. Mary and Breccan lived walking distance from the Long Island Sound – the body of water between Connecticut and Long Island. The water was calm, and Breccan started to wade, and then splash. She splashed him back. He smiled and giggled out loud. There was no one else at the small beach. It was early in the morning on a Sunday. Mary wanted to get there early in case Breccan changed into something. Sure enough he did.
Breccan became a shiny gray dolphin. She sat back and watched as he swam out hundreds of yards from the shore. Two other dolphins joined him. Mary became alarmed, but in seconds they swam together, leaping in and out of the water. It was a magical sight to behold, but then again, everything about Breccan was magical. He returned to the shore as a boy.
Breccan was now nearly fluent in English.
“Can you control the shape shifting at your will?” she asked him.
“Yes, except when I am dreaming or I get really excited. Then I have no control,” said Breccan.
One morning, Mary had made pancakes and sat down next to Breccan. She was drinking coffee.
“Tell me what you remember about your life in China,” she said to him out loud and then repeated it in her mind.
“I lived with a few different families. They were scared of my ability to change into animals. I ran off and was lost. A man found me and took me to his village. He gave me food, but saw me change into a dog in my sleep, and became scared. He dropped me off at the temple of heaven where the orphanage found me.” Breccan continued to eat.
Mary and Breccan continued to get to know each other. She took him to the library, and they read books together. She bought movies such as the Lion King, and Finding Nemo. They watched cartoons together. One day Mary was in the kitchen making dinner, and Breccan was watching an old Bugs Bunny cartoon. She had a pan in her hand when she heard him shout “Mom!” She dropped the pan and ran into the living room where Breccan was watching to the T.V.
“What is it?” she said.
A rabbit sat on the couch.
“No shape shifting Breccan. If anyone sees you shape shift, you will be in big trouble. Promise me,” reprimanded Mary.
Breccan changed back into a boy. He had not realized that he had changed into a rabbit. It had just happened and he placed his hand over his mouth, amused with himself. She pulled his hand from his mouth. Breccan changed the channel and started to sing the theme song to SpongeBob SquarePants.
By August, Mary had more confidence about sending Breccan to school. She reminded him daily that he had to remain a boy at all times and never change in public.
“People will not understand. They will be scared of you if you become an animal.”
Breccan nodded and agreed with Mary. But Mary did not enroll Breccan until the very end of August, until she was sure that Breccan had enough self control and would not reveal his secret in public, a big task for a kindergartener.
Mrs. Schwimmer called Mary at 6 p.m. on the first day of school.
“I am not sure if Breccan said anything, but we had a small incident this morning. He was very shy and went into the closet and disappeared. No one could find him for a while,” said Mrs. Schwimmer.
“He came home and seemed fine. What happened?” asked Mary.
“A girl in the classroom went into the closet and found him. I have been teaching for a long time, and I have never lost a student before. I apologize,” confessed Mrs. Schwimmer.
“Mrs. Schwimmer, uh…Breccan is really good at hiding.” Mary had to think of an excuse fast. “Sometimes he hides at home, and I can’t find him for hours. If anything like that happens again, call me, and I will come looking for him.”
Mary hung up and yelled for Breccan.
“What’s this I am hearing about you vanishing at school?” asked Mary.
“I was just hiding. I was scared…you were not there and I changed into a mouse and hid in my jacket.”
“I thought we had an agreement – no changing into animals in public.” Mary was angry. “Who found you?”
“That’s the funny part Mom. A girl named Serenity walked into the closet, and saw me as a mouse, but knew it was me.”
Mary was confused. How could someone be able to see Breccan for who he really was during metamorphosis?
“Don’t worry Mom, she’s my friend.”
“Well, promise that you won’t do it again.”
Breccan did not have any other disappearing incidents in Kindergarten. He became friendlier as each month passed. At home, Mary continued to speak to him in English only. He continued to improve his pronunciation and speaking ability. By the end of the school year, his English reading, writing, and speaking skills were as good as any other kindergarten student.
Ten months later, in June, on the last day of kindergarten, once again, Mrs. Schwimmer asked the class to draw a picture of their home. It was an exercise to demonstrate how much they have improved their art, their perceptions, and their dexterity.
Breccan drew a picture of the house he lived in with Mary. Mrs. Schwimmer asked him about the Temple of Heaven, but Breccan had no memory of it.
Life on the north shore of Long Island was enjoyable and peaceful. It was very different from the austerities of living in a Chinese orphanage. There were many festivals – such as the Oyster Festival, the Egyptian Festival, Blue Fish Festival, and the Greek Festival. They lived in a relatively crime free area. It was rare to see a police car on their street. Mary took pleasure in showing Breccan the former home of President Teddy Roosevelt, the only president from Long Island. She also took him to bird sanctuaries, and aquariums. Breccan soon developed similar interests to Mary. They both loved listening to Billy Joel. They loved watching the New York Mets baseball team. Breccan soon became a typical Long Island kid, with the exception of sports.
Breccan learned to swim and fish. Mary did not recall seeing dolphins at the beach in past years, but whenever she took Breccan to the beach, the Dolphins always showed up, as did hundreds of seagulls, and the occasional whale. Breccan could mimic the dolphin sounds perfectly and would call out to them. A fisherman noticed and told Mary that the dolphins only showed up when the boy was at the beach.
By third grade, Breccan had a small group of close friends which included a boy named Jackson. In the fall, the class took a trip to an animal sanctuary. The third graders saw vultures, two injured eagles, a horse, a mountain lion, and a wolf.
The kids were thoroughly enjoying their trip and took a break for lunch in the outdoor picnic area. A new student had joined the class, a girl named Sabel Atehortua. She sat eating her lunch on a table with other girls, and suddenly let out a scream. Standing less than twenty feet from the picnic tables was a wolf.
The wolf stared at Sabel and showed his teeth. It was the same wolf they had seen earlier in his habitat. The teachers rushed all the students out of the picnic tables and back to the indoor area. All but two students remained. Sabel stood frozen in fear, hypnotically staring into the Wolf’s Eyes. The wolf slowly took a few steps closer to Sabel. Breccan then cautiously rose to his feet, took a few steps and stood between Sabel and the Wolf. His body was inches in front of Sabel. Sabel could no longer see the wolf, and snapped out of her frozen stare.
Breccan signaled for Sabel to leave, and she quickly ran to the door and entered the building where the rest of her classmates waited in horror. The wolf growled, and Breccan walked into the wooded area behind the picnic tables. When he was no longer in the teacher’s or student’s view, he ran into the wooded area and the wolf ran after him.
The wildlife workers and administrative officials ran into the woods with tranquilizer guns. Minutes passed, and two shots were fired. The officials came out of the woods with the wolf tied up and asleep. They carried him back to his habitat. Breccan walked out of the woods without a scratch.
Serenity took notice of Breccan’s bravery, as did Sabel. They both sat next to him on the bus ride back to school.
“Please don’t be mad, Mom, but something happened on the trip today,” said Breccan to Mary.
Mary folded her arms, and waited for his explanation. Breccan recalled the incident with the wolf and Sabel.
“Oh my goodness,” said Mary. “What did you do?”
“I ran into the woods. When no one could see me, I changed into a wolf and told the wolf that I was not going to harm him. Then I changed back into a boy before the people that worked at the animal sanctuary came.”
“Breccan, that wolf could’ve harmed you. What you did was brave, but also dangerous! You can’t do things like that!” Mary grabbed Breccan and embraced him.
“Mom, the wolf said that Sabel freaked him out.”
Breccan continued to grow and develop like any other boy. He excelled in school. At home, it was always just mother and son. They did everything together, including shop for groceries, movies, cooking, bike riding, and more. Mary was happier than she had ever been in her life.
They lived in an old house with three bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, two bathrooms, and kitchen. Breccan particularly liked the basement. It was where he played video games. Oranges were Breccan’s favorite fruit, and he could eat ten oranges in one sitting.
Although his development was remarkable smooth, Breccan awoke from nightmares at least once a month. When Mary asked him to describe his dreams, Breccan would say “Mom, I only remember that there was someone with me. And then I lost that person. I don’t know who it was.”
Growing up on Long Island meant a lifestyle that involved the water. Mary once took Breccan on a fishing boat that left from a dock in nearby Port Washington, but Breccan developed motion sickness.
Breccan loved the beach, especially swimming in the ocean. Mary was astonished at how happy Breccan seemed in the water. On hot summer days, Breccan could spend hours in the waves. He never wanted to leave and never needed any company. Once they were at the beach and Breccan was shouting and laughing, as the waves grew larger. They were big enough to knock down a very large man, but they could not knock down Breccan. He stood firmly against ten foot waves that created havoc for the fishing boats. Breccan was very strong for a ten year old boy.
Mary could not help but wonder if Breccan was lonely away from his native country, and as an only child. For the past five years, Mary contacted the agency to try to get the box that Breccan’s belongings were in, but the agency said it was mailed out to her many years ago.
Now that he was older, and had more … self control, she encouraged him to invite his classmates to play with him. Breccan was reluctant, but eventually changed his mind. By the beginning of fifth grade, Breccan had become best friends with Jackson.
Jackson played every sport – soccer, basketball, baseball, and lacrosse. He was athletically gifted. Breccan did not play any sports – it was too risky given his ability. Mary was always worried that Breccan might “shift” and accidentally harm someone. Also, they realized that most people would never be able to accept his transformations. He did not want to be ostracized.
Jackson lived on the other side of town, the not so nice part. He was big for a fifth grade boy. He was taller than Breccan, and more developed physically. They started playing basketball together in the gym. Breccan was no match, but he still enjoyed playing with Jackson.
One day in the fifth grade, as they were finishing a basketball game in the school gym, Jackson was enjoying a ten point lead. He confessed to Breccan that he liked Sabel. Breccan did not think that Sabel liked Jackson, but Jackson would not hear of it.
“She’ll come around,” Jackson said with much self assurance. “When we’re in high school, I’ll be the big man on campus. You wait and see. She’ll be crazy about me.”