Chapter Ten

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Our new dormitory isn't exactly new. Two old beds sit in awkward positions in the middle of the room as if they were shifted by an earthquake, and the walls are covered in pencil graffiti. I remember what Sam told us very clearly: report to the Training Facility at 9:00 a.m.

"At least we get to sleep a little longer than everyone else," Leah says, flopping onto her bed. I nod listlessly, tangled in a web of conflicting thoughts. Here, it will be very hard to visit my mother regularly.

"Why do you look so depressed?" Leah asks brightly.

"I'm not," I reply. The clock on the wall across from us reads 10:00 p.m.: the Depot's nighttime curfew. Beneath the clock is a chest of drawers, stocked with white uniforms that all Trainees have to wear. After dragging my bed to a satisfactory position, I click off the light and lay on my side on the mattress.

"I'm so happy!" Leah declares in a singsong voice. "Can you believe how awesome this is?" I grimace, unable to speak my thoughts as honestly as she can.

"Yeah."

What's wrong with me? I think. I'm free from doctrines and control, I've found my long lost mother, and I have a clear purpose. Yet, I still feel a gaping hole inside my spirit that can't be filled by the government, or the Depot, or my mother.
It takes me a while to fall asleep.

* * *

A knock on the door.

"Mom?" I call out, only half awake. I hear a snicker outside and I stand, stumbling over to the door. When I open it, I am face-to-face with a boy; he has unkempt brown hair, bright blue eyes, and a long nose. The boy is slightly shorter than I am and smiles broadly.

"Mom?" He says, chuckling. I feel myself start to blush and I fake a laugh.

"Sorry... I just woke up," I mutter.

"Oh, it's alright, Bed-Head."

"Who's the jerk?" I hear Leah grumble behind me. She steps in front of me and folds her arms over her chest. Her hair sticks out at odd angles.

"I'm the jerk who woke you up in time for training." He holds out his hand innocently. "But most people call me Oscar." Leah snorts and I laugh, shaking his hand.

"Thanks for getting us up on time. I'm kind of afraid of Sam," I admit.

"Oh, he's not so bad once you get to know him," Oscar says, flapping his hand.

"And how long have you known him?" Leah asks in a snide manner.

"A week," Oscar says. Leah snorts again, narrowing her eyes.

"A week? You must know his deepest, darkest secrets by now." Oscar opens his mouth to retort and I grab Leah's shoulder.

"We should get dressed," I say suggestively. She nods and slams the door in Oscar's face.

"What a smart little punk," she mutters, sloppily pulling her leg through her white pants leg. "Boys are so clueless! Did you see the way he treated us like we were inferiors?" I shrug, secretly admiring Oscar's ability to talk to complete strangers. I guess Leah isn't much of a morning person. Or a people person. Or both.

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