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I'm sitting in the classroom, pondering life and existence.

Ten minutes ago when I entered the classroom the message board read this:

'55 and '56.  Please complete the math work page on your desk, and then use the rest of today's class to finish The House of the Scorpion.  You must have the book finished by tomorrow.  The bell will dismiss you.

I quickly finished the page of easy two step algebra problems, and then read the two chapters I had left in the book.

Now my mind is everywhere. Particularly my family.

Ty, and how he always wanted a piggyback ride. My parents, their unconditional love for the whole family, and willingness to talk. Wait. Talk. That conversation I overheard my parents having the night after I took the test the first time.

"David, what will we do if she's drawn?! I couldn't bear to go through it again!" My mother said, freaking out.

"Shhh Penelope. It's okay." My father calmed her, as always.  She was the dramatic one, him the calm, steady one that held us together.

"No! Honey, it's not okay! I worked with her; I told her how she could fail the examination! I cannot do this again!" My mother's voice escalated.  But what did she mean by saying 'again'?

"Penelope," my dad murmured softly, as he always did when calming my mother.  It almost always worked.  "Maybe this is what she wants."  Yes Dad.  I did want it.

"No! That's not possible! How could she want it?"  My mother continued to wail.  "She would become government property! How could anyone want that?!"  I don't know mom, but I did.

"Dear, if she doesn't want it, I'm sure she'll talk someone into volunteering for her. But if she does go, she'll do well doing whatever the GovChildren do. She's a tough cookie, Amber is. Don't stress it too much," my father reasoned.

"But David, how can you say this? How can be so calm, when we might be losing another child?"  What did she mean?  I am their firstborn.

"I would be sad to see Amber go, Penelope. Just like I was sad when-"

That's when the air conditioning cut in.  If only I had heard what my father said next.

And then there was the story of how my mother got the dress I wore to the draw, the story she never got a chance to tell me.

"Oh Amber! You look gorgeous!"  My mother said as she entered my room.

"I love this dress so much!"  I exclaimed.  "Where did you get it?"  I asked, knowing that it couldn't have been cheap.

"It's a special dress that I've had for a long time. Maybe one day I'll tell you the story," Mom said. 

If only she had told me the story then.  I wish I knew.

I look up around the classroom and see that Tristan, done the work, is also starting into space. I grab one of the extra sheets of paper that was given to show our work and write a note.

Hey -A

I crumple the paper into a ball and lob it, landing it perfectly on his desk. Tasha and I had perfected this back in Winnipeg, and could land notes on each other's desks even with several desks between us.

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