Mind you, Melissa Cameron wasn’t a typical hero. She was an ordinary adolescent who meant well. Was, that is. Once she was accused of vandalizing school property, she became bad-mannered and rude. She defended herself in a powerful fashion. Melissa claimed that the two girls who had accused her of destroying the school’s gym equipment, Vanessa and Sydney, had used her as a scapegoat. Melissa declared she had nothing to do with “appalling things such as vandalism.” The principal, seeing he had no incriminating evidence, decided that each girl would be suspended for three days. While the staff members slowly forgot, Melissa’s mother didn’t have the same calm, understanding reaction.
“Vandalism! Is that what I raised my own child to do? To ruin school property? Did I teach you to wreck gym equipment? No! I didn’t!” Mrs. Cameron had thundered loud enough for half the neighborhood to hear. She wouldn’t hear of Melissa’s protests and denials. She declared that there would be changes. The next day, because of her suspension, Melissa stayed home. She was surprised when her mother marched out the door and into her van in formal clothes, leaving Melissa curious and alone with her little brother and her sleeping father. Crouching down to her younger brother, Leighton, she smiled friendlily.
“Lee, do you know where mom’s going?” Leighton looked up at her with bright eyes. Taking his thumb out of his mouth, he wiped the spit off before answering. “Mommy said she was looking into new schools,” Leighton's thumb popped back into his mouth. Melissa titled her head sideways, trying to resist screaming in front of a four year old boy. Offering a sweet smile, she stood up slowly, silently praying that Leighton had heard wrong. A boarding school? Melissa knew her mother would be angry, but not boarding-school-angry. She figured she’d be grounded and severely lectured. Frustrated, she picked Leighton up and carried him to his toys. She could only wait and hope for the best.
Much to Melissa’s dismay, Leighton had heard right. After filling out mountains of paperwork, her mother had her enrolled in a prep school. She got to work packing Melissa essential supplies. Before Melissa knew it, it was time to run off to her new school. Her mother had described the children as “intelligent, polite and well behaving,” and then went on talking about the proven benefits. Melissa hadn’t paid any attention. In her opinion, if she was going to suffer in a boarding school, she didn’t want to hear about it beforehand.
When it came time, Melissa made sure to sneak in entertainment and snacks. She loaded the inside compartments with junk food. Hidden in the pocket of her uniform pants was iPhone, charger and headphones. She had also smuggled an old Gameboy and a barrage of games to go with it.
Running a tongue over her growing molars, Melissa reluctantly climbed into the backseat of her mom’s car. Next to her sat Leighton, buckled tightly into a lilac car seat that had...