Her arm hurt. Couldn’t that woman stop pulling at it? She hadn’t done anything. It hurt. Why didn’t she let her go? She could walk; she was no baby.
“Let me go.” She said. She didn’t even sound whiny.
“Oh no little devil. You’re not going anywhere.”
“I can walk.”
The tall lady turned and looked mean; she frowned and her lips looked like the Grinch. She was mean. She pouted.
“I know you can Alix. And you can run faster than I. So I’m not letting go. Unless you promise to be a good girl and follow me.”
Alix bit her lips trying not to cry.
“I don’t want to.”
The lady knelt; and suddenly she looked different.
“I know you’re scared sweetheart. But it’s going to be ok.”
“Why can’t I go back with mom?”
She looked so sad now. Maybe she wasn’t mean after all.
“Honey, your mother… she loves you but she can’t take care of you now. She needs to take care of herself first.”
“I can take care of her.”
True; Alix’s mom, she always looked a little lost. She was the best mom ever but even Alix knew that Alice in Wonderland was a fairy tale and it wasn’t real. Her mom sometimes got distracted. Every time she said she’d been to Wonderland or Neverland or some other place from stories she read for Alix. She knew her mom believed in weird things. She even said that Alix’s dad was from a wonderful place on the other side of the universe; that’s why he had to leave when she was a baby. And so sometimes she was forgetful; so Alix paid attention to dinner so it didn’t burn. She cleaned her room so her mom and put her clothes in the laundry so her mom wouldn’t forget to wash it.
“I know you can Alix, but that’s not how it’s supposed to be. So we’ll find someone to take care of you, until your mom gets better.”
“Will it be soon?”
“I don’t know honey. Maybe. Maybe not.”
There were tears in her eyes. Alix wiped them with her hand and her nose with her sleeve. She must be strong for her mom. But it was hard and the tears kept coming. She couldn’t stop them.
“It’s ok Alix.”
The woman took her in arms and she cried, and cried and cried until she fell asleep.
When she woke up, she was in a room. It had several beds, like the dormitory where they had their nap at school. One kid was sitting on the bed beside hers. He stared at her, as if she was some weird thing.
“You’re staring.” She said.
“So?” He didn’t stop.
“It’s rude to stare.”
“What’s your name?”
She didn’t like this boy; he was rude.
“Sebastian. So what’s your name?”
“I’m Alix.” She didn’t really want to tell him, but he had said his name so it would have been ruder to not answer.
“That’s a weird name.”
“At least, it’s more beautiful than Sebastian.”
“Maybe. It’s French. You don’t look French.”
She shrugged. Of course she didn’t look French. She wasn’t. Duh!
“I don’t know. I don’t care.”
“No. You look more like a… I don’t know… Padma or Amvi.”
Her mother was called Ananda. It meant joy. But there hadn’t been joy in the last few days. She shrugged again.
“Didn’t your parents tell you why they gave you such a weird name?”
He was rude and mean. And arrogant too.
“Why yes? My name’s Sebastian for the great ruler who brought Thespir together to fight against the evil Jespath.”
“These don’t even exist.”
He was angry. And he stood, like he was about to hit her. She scooted away from him and off the bed.
Alix turned; there was a beautiful girl with blond hair and blue eyes who stood at the door. She was older than her. The boy stood very still.
“Leave her alone. She’s just arrived.”
“She called me a liar.”
The girl shook her head; and all her hair danced about it. Just like her mom’s used to before… Alix bit her lips. She didn’t want to cry.
“Well and good for her. Why should she believe anything you say? You’re a naughty boy.”
Felicity shrugged. She turned around.
“He’s here Stephen.”
Another boy came and he looked just like Sebastian. Almost… his eyes were green, whereas Sebastian’s were… different. She couldn’t tell the colour from where she was. But darker.
“Are you twins?” She asked, turning her eyes to one and then to the other. They both laughed. “What?” She asked. “Go away. Leave me alone.”
“Don’t mind them Alix. They’re stupid boys.” Felicity said. She came to her and hugged her. “They’ll never get adopted.”
“Adopted?” What did that mean?
“Well you’re in an orphanage. Where kids who don’t have parents go.”
“I do have parents. Well one.”
They didn’t believe her. She could tell.
“It’s true!! I have my mommy. But she’s sick. She just can’t take care of me right now.”
“So you may not stay long.”
“I don’t know.”
She didn’t; the woman had said maybe. But maybe not.
“Well you’re beautiful. So I’m sure someone will want to adopt you.”
“What about you?”
Felicity looked at the boys. Sebastian frowned but his brother shrugged.
“My parents are dead. I was with Sebastian and Stephen’s family for a while but they had to leave us here. Like your mom, they couldn’t take care of us for now.”
She wasn’t alone then. And like that, the four of them became friends, even if Sebastian never seemed to like her as much. He was rude; always. If she’d had siblings she might have said he treated her like a younger sister. But he was never like that with any other girl her age. She didn’t understand that; not for a long time.
In the end, they remained at the orphanage. None of their parents had signed the release or whatever so they could get actually adopted. But neither did they come to get them. Alix eventually visited her mom – surprisingly Sebastian went with her. But years of medication had addled her mother’s already fragile mind. She didn’t recognize her daughter who should be six, not fourteen. That hurt and for once, when she cried on the drive back, Sebastian didn’t tease her. All in all, it wasn’t a bad life; they studied during the day, and took care of the kids who came and went during the weekends or in the evening. The orphanage staff took care of them. As much as the four teenagers let them. They kept out of troubles mostly. Until they didn’t. But nobody could change what they unleashed.