“Max! Max! Ms. Burnsky said we have a meeting. Do you think someone is coming to meet us?” I yelled, throwing open the door to our small bedroom. Max was laying on her back, hands crossed over her stomach, staring at the ceiling. She looked like she was waiting for death. It was freaky. I poked at her. “Max…”
“Leave me alone, Ash. I’m tired.”
“But, Max… Ms. Bur-”
“I don’t care what she said.”
“What if someone wants to meet us?”
“No one wants to meet us, Ash. No one ever does.”
I sat on my own bed, feeling my eyes burn like they do when I’m about to cry.
I cry a lot. I wish I didn’t. I do.
“Max, we can’t give up.”
“Then don’t give up. Go to the meeting. Meet the nice couple. Tell them all the things we are trained to say. You’re a good girl. You help out. You’re cute and not damaged at all.”
I was getting angry. She could at least try for me. This could be our shot. Our one opportunity to get out of this place.
“Fine.” I huffed, turned and left Max behind.
It wasn’t a nice couple coming to adopt my sister and I. It was the man of the house, letting us know that we needed to move to a community room. We were taking up too much space with our own room.
Kids who move to community rooms rarely leave them.
I return back to our bedroom to deliver the news to Max and start packing my few items.
“Max…” She’s not there. None of her stuff is on her bed. I run out to the hall and into the bathroom. “Max!”
“Shut up!” I hear someone yell. Not Max.
I check the kitchen. No Max. The community rooms. The play room. Nothing. I run to Aubrey’s, Max’s best friend’s, room. “Aubrey, have you seen my sister?” No Aubrey. The room is completely empty. No clothes or pillows. I breathe harder. I start to cry. I want to yell but I know I would get in trouble.
Max left. Max got out. She’s free… and I’m still here.
~ ~ ~
“I was with Nick today…” Aubrey said as she lifted up her mattress
“He-” She pauses to grunt as she moves the sheet and reaches into the mattress. She pulls out a bag of M&Ms. “And he told me something.”
I dig out some M&Ms. “Aubrey, will you just skip to the point please.”
She laughs. “Fine, party pooper. He promised me something.” I raise my eyebrow. “He promised me he would get me out. And you can come.”
“What?” I almost yell. Aubrey hushes me. “When? How?”
“In thirty minutes. And he just got paid. He’s on guard tonight and he convinced the other guard to stay home. Nothing has happened recently anyways.”
“Is he coming with us?” Aubrey nods. “So the four of us are getting out.” I lay back on Aubrey’s bed, popping another M&M in my mouth.
“Four? No, Max. Three.”
I sit up. “What about Ashtyn? She has to come with us. She’s my sister!”
“She’s eight years old, Aubrey. She could mess this up for us!”
“She’s my sister!”
“This is your only chance, Max. Ash will be fine. She will get adopted. Or when you turn eighteen in less than two years you can come back for her. Adopt her yourself.”
I bite the inside of my cheek. I can’t leave my sister.
That’s when I shift, feeling shoots of pain travel up my pelvis and down my arms.
I have to get out of this hell hole.
“Okay. Yeah. You’re right.”
Aubrey smiles. “Go get your stuff and meet us at the back door.”
I nod and leave Aubrey behind.
Ashtyn runs in moments after I’ve gotten myself to stop crying. I do everything I can to sound like I don’t care. Ash leaves. I stand up and begin packing, tears falling quickly as I do. I start to leave the room, but stop to get one last glance at my baby sisters bed.
Ashtyn is a great kid. Cute, nice, healthy. By herself, she will get adopted instantly.
I leave the room behind, meeting Aubrey and Nick at the door. The escape works without a hiccup.