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Parents die and/or disappear all the time. Almost as often as children, although it usually doesn’t make the evening news. When parents die and/or disappear, they leave behind orphans. Orphans are strange creatures with large, sad eyes that have bad luck on snowy days. If something bad is going to happen to an orphan it is usually snowing outside. Especially if the orphan’s home burnt down. Places where orphans are collected, gathered, sorted and fed are traditionally called orphanages. Orphanages have a bad habit of burning down just to prove a point. Almost always on snowy days. That way the large eyed creatures can shiver out in the snow; their nostrils dripping; their teddies clutched to shaking chests; their tear-ducts spouting fluid like an enraged horned-toad as they watch their meager possessions being devoured by Prometheus’ gift.

This story is not about those kind of orphans.

This story is about the kind of orphans that inexplicably save the world despite, or perhaps because of, their lack of parents



***

Mary Belle Cooper was, up until quite recently, not an orphan. Events over the summer had put that distinction into question. Currently she occupied a worn vinyl backseat in a large car that smelled like old cigarettes. She stared out the window at the vast expanse of nothing. Not literally of course. There were trees and rocks and cows speckled across the rolling hills of yellowed late summer grass. But they were driving out in the middle of nowhere, and things that might look good on a postcard, are interminably boring when witnessed in person. So she sat, and stared out the window. A red-headed girl of just fourteen who most likely was now an orphan. She sat and watched the rolling hills, watching her memories ebb and flow with the car’s shadow on the hillside. Just her alone with her thoughts.

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