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A bit of fiction because my life is too boring today to talk about the real world:

Melanie’s restlessness was an alive thing. It skittered away from her, ruffling the other children in the small classroom. Causing a younger girl to yawn audibly while their class aid tried to gain control.

The aid was new, and it said a lot for turnover that Melanie even noticed. Two weeks. She had the ink marks under her sleeve to prove it. Three was the longest she’d ever gone, but two was still unbearable.

The learning hour ended with no real fanfare. The aid had never gained control and the built up squirming of the children spilled out to the rest of the building.

Melanie nearly vibrated as she made her way to the common area. The flow of children around her like stream. She wouldn’t let herself get caught up in it. She wasn’t excited that the school day was over. It was just another day to scratch off. Her mother was a much better teacher anyway.

There weren’t enough tables in the room for her to sit by herself so she instead sat at a crowded table. Ignoring the initial stares of the children, she tucked her chin to her chest.

Quickly the others ignored her. Everyone except for Amanda who kept her eyes narrowed on the interloper to her table.

“So are your parents in jail or did they just hate you?” Amanda asked. Still staring at Melanie, she wore a smirk of triumph at her cruel question.

The table went silent. One boy who’s father was in jail went white. Melanie for her part, welcomed the distraction. And besides, she loved talking about her mother.

“My mom needed to keep me safe,” Melanie said, meeting Amanda’s eyes.

“So she’s a drug addict then. Thought so.”

“My mom’s a secret agent,” Melanie said, with a proud smile. “It’s safer if no one knows where I am while she works.”

A couple of the kids laughed quietly, from the tension and the strange answer.

“Is that what she told you before she left you here? That’s pathetic. She lied to you like that?”

“She didn’t lie,” Melanie retorted. She almost loved this part. They never believed. Sometimes after she left she imagined what the children’s faces must look like. When they realized she wasn’t lying.

At only 12, Melanie had been on a whirlwind tour of a whole variety of orphanages. None of them had been as bad as some of the awful books her mom had read to her about orphanages.

Once Melanie had told her she was almost disappointed. She thought if she went to a bad orphanage she’d at least have a story to share with her mom. Her mother told wonderful stories, of the strange prince she’d protected somewhere in Asia to the daring escape she’d had to make when her cover was blown in South America.

When Melanie told her she wished she had stories to tell, she kissed the top of her head absentmindedly. “I have enough stories for the both of us. I’d rather keep you safe.”

And so it was two days later, in the quiet of dawn that Melanie’s mother took her hand and walked her out of the latest orphanage. In a small act of defiance, Melanie tugged a braid of Amanda’s hair as they passed by her cot and slipped out of the building before the rest of the world woke up to discover her gone.