I was sent here to keep me safe.
From horrors I wasn't supposed to know about.
But they didn't understand the first thing about arriving in a female body with raging hormones and a genius beyond understanding of myself and anyone around us.
Of course, they wiped my memory. That didn't mean I couldn't figure out that I didn't belong.
Then I met someone that I could almost trust. Not to give me away.
Because if anyone really found out who I was - including me - then the universe would literally collapse on itself.
Seriously. Not just another teen-angst romance. This was deadly serious.
Deadly for everyone, including me. And somehow, he seemed to actually care...
First day of school for that second year of torture.
And since we had roughly the same last name, we were assigned seats in order and wound up in the back of the room by each other.
And that meant we had to collaborate on class projects. Chemistry. Another yawning class to endure. Until what? Until the day was over. Then we had homework and then we went to sleep and then woke up and started over.
A gigantic baby-sitting service to raise their kids to get jobs like they did. And have kids. And let them get raised like us, like our parents were.
"Some gigantic conspiracy." That guy sitting in the next row over mumbled.
"What?" I asked.
"Just a way to keep us all amused until we get our scrap of paper saying we did wrote our dots and dashes just so and can go out and now be carbon copies of what they want us to be, good little boys and girls." Clearer this time. A full run-on sentence.
"Kinda grumpy today?" I said.
"Maybe. But thanks for noticing." He replied.
"I'm Harriet - but please call me Hari." Introductions were best cut short.
"Sal - short for Salamon." To the point, but with a smile. "Nice to meet someone else who was saddled strangely right out of the gate."
I had to smile at this. The guy was colorful. I tended to be reticent, quiet.
"So what do you think of this lab work we're assigned?" Maybe curious, maybe polite small talk.
"Sucks. As usual. Teacher does the lecture, makes us do something so we can parrot the answer back. It's called 'learning.' Could be worse, I imagine." Now I started to warm to the subject.
"Yea, well. You're probably right, could be worse." He slid down into his seat so his shoulders were on the backrest and elbows on the laminated top. "Stuff gives me nightmares as it is."
"Nightmares?" I turned to him. This struck a chord.
"Sure - am I in the right class, do I have the right books, am I dressed like I'm supposed to. What about that cutie in the front row - is she going to ask my something and I won't know what to say? And then I wake up and see that I still have hours to go before I'm supposed to get up and show up at the circus again." He frowned at remembering.
"Yeah, I know about that. Except the cutie in the front row. She's an air head. Don't worry about her asking you anything. She's into getting top grades." I frowned on my own.
"Just another trap to catch you." He gave a wry grin out of the corner of his mouth, half turned toward me.
"Lots of traps here. But I'm beginning to figure them all out. They might have a pattern." I turned more toward him to see his response...
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