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From the moment Skye was born, she knew she was different. She learned how to read when she was two. She finished the dictionary when she was three. And by the time she was four, she only read Sherlock Holmes because she finished all of the other books. Only problem was she almost died of boredom because she solved every single case before he did. But that wasn’t the reason Skye knew she was unusual. It wasn’t even the fact she completed calculus when she was six. The reason was how she did it. Everything was there. Whenever she sat down to do a math problem, the numbers just rearranged themselves in her brain and she knew the answer. Every single time. The same thing happened with books. Her parents thought she learned how to read. Actually, she always knew. At least, that’s what it seemed like to Skye. She just picked up a book and read it, without even thinking about it. She found out about her photographic memory and perfect recall when she was five. Never again would her parents give her a scavenger hunt for her birthday. Then when Skye was six, her parents left her with a babysitter while they went to a meeting. They never came back. Skye still remembered that awful evening, every tick of the clock growing louder and more urgent, saying “come back, come back.” She was in bed, supposed to be asleep. Her babysitter was watching a movie, and it was well past eleven. Skye was smart enough to know they should have been back well over an hour ago. And at that moment, she realized something was wrong. Terrible, horribly wrong. She had no idea though, that it was the last night she would ever spend in her own bed, in her own room, in her own house. Forever.
The world was spinning. Skye tried to escape but strong arms held her down. She struggled violently, but Alex hung on.
“Stop-it” Skye breathed heavily.
Alex gave her one last spin, then let her go, smirking. For a 9 year old, he was big, strong and a complete bully. It seemed to Skye that he latched himself onto her life,trying to make her the most miserable girl in history. Of course, it was hard to do, since Skye normally outwitted him. But this time sheer strength had won. Skye stumbled back, trying not to throw up. Before she could say anything, he darted off. Surprised but thankful, Skye began to pick herself up. As her vision cleared, she saw what had made Alex run. A woman stood a few feet away, silhouetted by the sun so it was hard to tell who she was. But as the woman stepped closer, Skye’s question died on her lips. If she had to pick between Alex and this woman, she would choose Alex. It was Mrs. Eleanor Lopasal.
“What are you doing?” Mrs. Lopasal thundered, yanking Skye up by her arm. Then she caught a glimpse of a book lying on the ground, next to where Skye had been sitting. “Don’t you have anything better to do than lying out here on the grass, reading?”
Skye didn’t answer, lowering her eyes.
“You don’t, eh?” Mrs. Lopasal continued. “Well, instead of lollygagging about, wasting time, you should be inside, helping. Mr. Lopasal and I work hard so you can stay here, although I’m seriously regretting my decision to keep you, you worthless wrench. And yet you pretend we do nothing for you. You stay out here, soiling you clothes, ruining Mr. Lopasal’s books. Why did you come here?”
“Be-because” Skye managed to get out.
“Be-because,” Mrs. Lopasal mocked. “You had a better reason. Getting out of work! Not only are you lazy, you're a liar! A lying little thieving orphan who deserves to be thrown out in the streets.”
“Then why don’t you send me back?” sobbed Skye, ripping herself out of the woman's cruel grip and running, stumbling, back to the house. She ran inside, to her bedroom (it was more like a closet) and threw herself on her bed, crying. This was her fifth actual foster home, not counting the half-way houses. Skye called them that, because they were half way between a home and a house. Skye was smart. Beyond smart. A genius. Brilliant. Most likely smarter than anyone history had ever known. And she barely knew it. She knew she was different from other kids, and she knew that her school seemed like the most boring dull place she had ever been. But being stuck in this foster agency? Skye never had a chance to show just how smart and brilliant she really was. She traced the scars along her arms, a gnawing black emptiness growing inside of her. The agency was a cover up for a building to dump kids with no parents. Sure, it looked great from the outside, had all the right papers, and managed to pull itself together in time for visits, but really it was all a fraud,a synthetic agency, where the person in charge cared nothing for the kids, only the money. She would give a kid to anyone who asked, and there was barely and paperwork involved. There were most certainly no background checks. Since word spreads quickly, so anybody who wanted to find someone to take care of their kids, clean their house, or mistreat knew where to look. Skye blinked back a fresh onslaught of tears. She saw through watery eyes her math book lying untouched on her desk. There was school tomorrow, and homework due. Since nobody cared about her, nobody really knew about her brain. And because of that, Skye had never taken an I,Q class, and she was never in one school long enough to attract attention. Well, she did, but not any good attention. Everybody thought she was the exact opposite of smart, because she never did her homework, and never raised her hand. But the only reason was that Skye didn’t need to do homework. And she was too bored or tired or sore to raise her hand. But none of that really mattered. Skye braced herself and walked out of her room.
Skye plopped her duffel bag down on the stained mattress and sighed. She glanced around at the room, no different from the last time she had been here. Well, it was better than that Lopasal place. She shuddered. Definitely one of the worst. Wearily, she began to unfold the sheets, grimacing with pain as she bent over. Even though she was gone, her back would always remember them. Eventually, that family gave her back to the agency, thank goodness. Almost an entire year had gone by. Tomorrow would be her tenth birthday, not that anybody cared. As she tucked in the thin comforter, she heard a voice calling her name.
“Skye! Come here at once!”
Skye ignored it for a moment.
“SKYE! Come here this INSTANT” bellowed the voice, more insistent.
With another sigh, Skye meandered her way through the halls and into the office. She opened the door and saw her caseworker, Mandy, standing behind her desk, hands on hips, frizzy red hair as wild as ever.
“That’s the fourth home that has turned you back. Fourth!” she thundered.
“Fifth,” Skye mumbled, not daring to meet Mandy’s blazing eyes.
“Even worse!” The woman yelled. “I expect better of you, Skye, much better. If you can’t get yourself together, we’re going to be stuck with you forever. FOREVER! So next time, don’t bungle it! You’ll be lucky if someone takes you in again. Look at me when I am speaking to you!”
But Skye had tuned her out, trying very hard not to burst into tears. Like it was her fault the Lopasal’s didn’t want her! Mandy blew out a very long breath.
“I am warning you Skye. Much more of this, and you’ll be kicked out. For good.” She spoke very deliberately. “Now, get back to your room!”
Skye turned abruptly around and marched out. She ignored the other kids in the halls as she ran back to the safety of her room. Once there, she buried her head in her arms.
“I won’t cry. I won’t cry.” she said over and over again. In that position, she slumped back against her pillow, and fell into a long deep sleep, exhausted physically and mentally.
Skye sat bolt upright, sweating. Outside was gray, and her clock read 6:14, but she was wide awake. She had been dreaming, remembering her life for the past four years, every bully, every beating. She stumbled out of bed, out of her room, and down the hall, groping in the pitch black. Her mind was racing, and she licked her cracked lips. Without warning, numbers started flashing through her mind. She saw equations reposition themselves until the answer rang as clear as a bell. She saw the names and details of every single president, vice-president and man who ran for president. She saw an entire biography of every famous person in history and the periodic table of elements. In her brain, flashes of information came thick and fast, driving her to stagger down the hall, out the door, and onto the sidewalk, where she promptly bumped into someone running. Skye tumbled to the ground, still dazed from her brain’s explosion of facts and statistics. The woman she had slammed into reached down, a concerned look on her face.
“Hey, are you okay? Sorry, I didn’t see you coming.”
Skye managed to sit up. “Yea, I’m-I’m fine. I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going, that’s all.” She rose to her feet, still shaky.
The woman grabbed a hold of her arm to steady her. “Are you sure you’re all right? You don’t look to good.” She peered intently at Skye. Skye blinked and rubbed her eyes with the heel of the hand. “Yea, I’ll be okay.” She said, right before she blacked out.