The gloomy day didn’t help Laura’s mood as she stood in front of the classroom with a group of overly rambunctious children. It had been drizzling off and on for 14 days straight, the ground was muck, her tent was damp, and she could never seem to shake the chill that had settled into her bones about 10 days ago. Centurions were constantly marching through the mud leaving huge ruts and holes and she had twisted her ankle walking to the school that morning. Pain reliever was practically non-existent after the arrival of the cylons so she had to make due with wrapping a towel tightly around her ankle to try and stop the swelling, leaning on her desk during the day to take the weight off her foot. This made the children think she was being lax, and a headache was beginning to form with their constant chatter and inability to pay attention.
“Children!” Laura raises her voice, unable to distract them with her ‘I’m incredibly annoyed with you’ teacher voice. “CHILDREN!” she roars, this time in a tone that could stop a Centurion dead in its tracks. “If you don’t quiet down and pay attention, I will assign extra homework! Do you understand?” Do you understand? She borrowed that from Bill, having heard him utter those words several times to emphasize his point when giving an order. The children immediately turn to face her and cease their chatter.
“That’s better. Who can tell me the symbolism behind the dove in chapter 9?”
Many of the children glance down to the tables in front of them, not wanting to be called on by Miss Roslin, especially an irritated Miss Roslin. “Anyone?” None of the children answer so Laura limps her way down the middle aisle of the classroom looking over each child before moving onto the next table. Every one of them squirms uncomfortably under her stare, hoping she skips them and moves past them.
Laura stops at a table second from the back, her best student sitting quietly staring downward with a hand on her cheek shielding her face from everyone. “Melissa Kaye, you usually have good insight into these things. What do you think the dove symbolizes?” she asks in a much friendlier voice.
Melissa Kaye sits mute in her chair, giving Laura a slight shrug of her shoulders. Laura realizes the girl hasn’t said a word all day, and she can’t even remember for sure when she arrived at the school that morning, which is unusual because she normally arrives with her mother a few minutes before classes start.
“Um, Miss Roslin?” a boy sitting at the table in front of Melissa Kaye asks nervously.
“What is it, Darren?”
“They took her parents last night. She slept here.”
Oh, my Gods. “Melissa,” Laura says softly, kneeling next to her. “Is that true? Were you here all night?”
She turns her face to Laura revealing dirty tear-stained cheeks and fearful blood-shot eyes, and she slowly nods her head choking out a sob.
“Class, I want everyone to reread chapter 9 and work on a report explaining the symbolism of the dove. NO TALKING! If you can be quiet for the next 10 minutes before school is out, I won’t assign any extra homework.”
“Yes, Miss Roslin,” the students say in unison.
“Melissa, please come with me,” Laura whispers, placing an arm around her shoulders and helping her to the back of the room. “Have you had anything to eat or drink today?” she asks looking her over while wetting a washcloth to clean her face.
Melissa stares ahead and does not answer, so Laura calls for Darren to join them.
“Do you know what happened, Darren?”
“She snuck out of her tent to visit me last night but when she went back, Centurions were taking her parents away and they were searching her tent. She heard the one called Cavil tell them they needed to find the child, too. She hid from them and after they left, she came back to my tent but Cavil and his Centurions were asking us where she was, so she came to the school. I found her here this morning and shared some of my lunch with her. She’s been crying all afternoon. I think she’s really scared.”
“Thank you, Darren. You can go back to your seat now. Please don’t tell anyone about this.”
“I won’t.” He touches Melissa on the shoulder and gives her a small smile. “I’m sorry, Missy.”
Laura works to wipe the dirt from Melissa’s face, then wrings out the washcloth in cold water and places it on her forehead. “If you press it on your eyes, it might help them feel better,” she tells her. “I’m going to dismiss the class in a few minutes, but I want you to stay here until we figure out a place for you to go. You feel cold – do you want a blanket?”
Melissa nods her head so Laura wraps a throw around her shoulders, then hobbles back to the front of the class. “Thank you for reading quietly. Please have your reports ready tomorrow. You are dismissed.”
Once the children have left, Laura explains to Maya and Tory about what happened with Melissa.
“My Gods, Laura, they took her older brother shortly after they arrived and we’ve never seen him since. Now her parents? Why can’t they leave them alone?” Tory asks.
“I know. It doesn’t make any sense. We need to find a way to get her out of here without being seen, and a safe place for her to stay. She’s terrified,” Laura says.
“She’s welcome to stay with me. The cylons pretty much leave me and Isis alone,” Maya offers, Laura and Tory exchanging worried glances.
“If we can get her to my tent, she can hide in my place. The cylons don’t pay any attention to me,” Tory says. “I’m near both of you, so if they do happen to stop by, she can slip out the side and go to one of your tents.”
“I like that idea,” Laura says looking around, her eyes coming to rest on a large cart they use to bring books and supplies to and from the school. “And I think I know how we can get her there.”
It takes both Tory and Laura pushing on the cart through the mud of New Caprica to transport Melissa to Tory’s tent. They had covered her with the blanket, then placed books and supplies around her to further camouflage the 13-year-old girl that the cylons were inexplicably interested in finding. Once they get her inside, Tory makes some hot tea and offers her some bread and leftover cheese from the last food ration the cylons had distributed.
“Melissa, I know this is hard to talk about, but do you know why the cylons took your parents?”
“No. My dad is a laborer, and my mom works in the market. They aren’t even part of the resistance. They’re just trying to survive like everyone else,” she says sadly. “I’m afraid I’m never going to see them again.”
“Sometimes they let people go, so we need to stay positive,” Laura explains. “But we need to change your appearance so they can’t find you.”
“I understand,” Melissa replies running her fingers through her long blond hair. “I don’t want them to find me.”
Tory produces a pair of scissors and Laura begins to cut Melissa’s hair into a short pixie cut. “I’m going to check with a few people for some dye,” Tory says before leaving her tent.
“I’m sorry, Melissa. Your hair will grow back someday. We need to find you some boy clothing that fits – is Darren about your size?”
“He’s a little bit bigger, but probably the closest to my size,” she says. “He’s my boyfriend. He’s the only one who calls me Missy.”
“That’s sweet. He’s very worried about you. Do you think he’d let you borrow some of his clothes? Maybe just a couple of shirts and a pair of jeans? I don’t think you should go out much, but you at least need to make it to the latrine.”
“What about school?”
“I can teach you in the evenings. Your safety is more important right now.”
When Tory returns, she informs them the only dye she could find is black. She leaves it with Laura, then heads to Darren’s tent at the other end of the compound to ask for some clothing.
“Well, I think you look really cute with short hair,” Laura says. “Look in the mirror,” she says holding it out to her.
“I look older. I kind of like it. I’ve never had my hair this short before. Do you think I look like a boy?”
“I think you will once we color your hair and get you in the right clothing. No one will recognize you.” Laura opens the dye and lets Melissa take one last look at her blond hair in the mirror. “Ready? Remember, it will grow back nice and blond someday, I promise.”