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Pen Your Pride


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As I expected, Love Station was packed with eager kids and their nervous, worrying parents ... and it was only five in the morning. "Forget us not," said a tearful Ilyx as she gave me a big hug and a kiss on the forehead.

"I won't," I promised before kissing her cheek.

"We'll be back together again soon," Lark said once it was his turn to hug me. "Just remember that no matter what anybody says to you, all that matters is what's in here," he added, pointing to my heart.

"I know," I said as he gave me a kiss on the cheek. I gave him one back.

"Live for the beat of your own heart," Lark said, reminding me of one of his silly Oh Wise One sayings.

"I know Lark, I know," I said with a chuckle. "I should probably get going now-"

"Celia." I looked at Lark.

"Aces high."

I smiled. "Aces low."

"When you look to the sky."

"Know your true colors show."

"I swear you two sometimes ..." Ilyx chimed in, letting her sentence trail off. She then pushed me along. "Run along now, Celia."

"I'll see ya soon!" I told them.

"Bye, sweetheart!" I heard Ilyx call out from behind me. "Just be yourself!"

"Behave!" I heard Lark shout as I quickly ran towards the entrance. Oh Lark-if only he'd realize that an ace doesn't find trouble ... trouble finds an ace. As I squeezed my way through the large crowd of people lingering around in the waiting room, I noticed that quite a few kids were actually sobbing and bawling their eyes out as they hung onto their parents for dear life, as if they'd never see them again. I guess I could see where they were coming from-deep down, I felt the same way when I said goodbye to Lark and Ilyx.

As I stepped onto the platform, I instantly entered into a massive crowd of kids waiting to board. It was chaos to say the least-I thought there would have at least been a little organization in this place. I couldn't even see where the platform ended and the tracks started because the sea of kids was so large ... all I saw was the top half of a large, red and black train. I waited my turn by standing behind a girl who looked to be part of the most organized check-in "line." She was wearing a pink hoodie, so I couldn't see what her ranking was. To be honest, I didn't even know which line I was supposed to be in. I figured there were probably lines for those kids going east and those going west, but I hoped that once I got closer to the front someone would make that division clear.

After waiting for what felt like over half an hour, I finally got close enough to the front to where I could see a woman holding a whiteboard that had "7 - 10" going across it in red marker. Go figure-I was in the wrong line. "Everyone numbered seven through ten please make five single file lines in front of me," the woman said, doing her best to get some order. But only a few kids, namely those relatively close to where she was standing, listened to her and started to form lines. It was only then that I realized the kids surrounding me all had sevens, eights, nines, or tens on their necks. Wow, I felt stupid.

"Darn it," I said as I started to move towards the left side of the platform, where I assumed kids numbered two through six were supposed to be. It was really hard for me to squeeze through all those kids-even though I was saying, "Excuse me," they were too focused on their side conversations to actually listen and try to get out of my way (at least, I hoped that was why they were ignoring me). When I got about halfway towards where the lines on the left side started, some boy pushed me as I was trying to squeeze by him. I ended up bumping into some other boy, almost losing my footing in the process. "Sorry," I told the boy as he turned around and glared at me. His face was bright red, though I wasn't sure why ... it's not like I pushed him on purpose. The red-faced boy then used both his hands to full on push me backwards. I was surprised when I didn't fall flat on my butt, but instead bumped into someone else who'd essentially broken my fall with their back. "Sorry," I told whomever I bumped into this time as I regained my balance. "I didn't mean to-" I stopped midsentence when I turned around and saw who I'd bumped into. It was Brick Cawstone. This was my lucky day, wasn't it?

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