I stare in shock at the girl standing over me. Her face is lit up by a bright, friendly smile, almost as if she wants to get to know me. My heart sinks at the realization. Once she finds out the truth she'll abandon me, just like all the rest.
"I'm Isa," I reply.
There is a moment of awkward silence.
"Welcome to the bus, Isa," Raven says. "Sorry about that man. No manners. As if he wasn't perfectly capable of finding somewhere ELSE to sit." She rolls her eyes.
In spite of myself, I have to laugh. "So what brings you here?" Raven asks. I hesitate before I answer. Should I tell her the truth? No, absolutely not. Much too risky. Although something in me says I should...
I opt for the lie I had prepared a few days ago in case someone asked me this question. "Oh, not much," I say nonchalantly. "You know...I'm going off to college next fall, and thought I might want to see a little bit of the world before I go."
She nodds. "That sounds pretty cool. Where are you from?"
I'm suddenly forced back into my memory, into a scene fogged by time. My mother is standing over me, staring at me critically. I was only a little girl with brown pigtails, pleading over and over, "Oh, won't you take me in?"
And she replied, "Where are you from?"
I must have looked startled because Raven gives me a strange look and asks, "Are you okay, Isa? Did you hear my question?"
I nod quickly. "Oh, it's nothing. I...I just had a flashback..."