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The Kids Aren’t Alright

“Alice! Come here, honey!”

But of course, Alice hadn’t the slightest intention to obey, and she kept running around in the park, giggling and waving her dirty hands up in the air. She had just learned how to stand up and run and was resolute to keep honing her craft. Her mum tried to chase her briefly, but then she gave up and decided to pick up the pink hat which had fallen from her daughter’s head.

Alice retreated behind the big wooden hut and met Adrian, who was waiting for her. He was a bit older than Alice and was already capable of articulating a few adult-understandable words. Still, he remained humble and continued playing with Alice and with the other younger kids: Alice was happy about it, because she found him really nice, and wished she had a brother like him.

She was an only child, and her parents didn’t seem to have the slightest intention to bring another kid to the family. But at least her mum had a lot of free time and could take her out often. In a certain sense, she felt like she had a lot of brothers and sisters, each one of them living in a different house.

“Did she give up chasing me?” Alice asked Adrian in their own private language. No way the adults could intercept one of their messages and make any sense out of it.

Adrian nodded. At that moment, another little girl joined them, smiling as she trembled on her puffy legs: Fleur was the youngest of the group, and she was still a bit unsteady when she had to walk.

“We just have to wait for the twins,” Adrian said, sitting on the wooden platform and scratching his scarred knee. A shriek and a couple of childish laughs followed by a set of parental recommendations informed them that the twins were on their way.

Erica and Gavin, aka the twins, spotted the other kids and ran towards the wooden hut, shrieking all the way there. They stopped as soon as they reached the shade of the tree and froze, looking at Adrian in expectation. Their eyes were a bit too wide open for Alice’s taste, but they were nice kids.

And, more important, they were all devoted to the cause. Everyone’s contribution was needed for the Cause.

Adults didn’t know, but those kids were about to action their plan to get rid of their parents once and for all and take hold of the entire town. It had been Adrian’s idea: he had watched in dread and horror as his older brother was sent to school, to sit hours and hours every day instead of enjoying his time in the playground with all the other kids. Adrian didn’t want to go through the same torture and had begun to think about ways to prevent it from happening.

Together with the other kids in the playground, they had introduced a new way to communicate with each other, a language the adults had no hope at understanding, and laid out their plan. Of course, this plan’s first and foremost target was the local school.

“Anything to tell us, guys?”

Adrian looked at the twins, who looked at each other. Their mother was one of the biggest threats to the plan, as she was one of the teachers working in the city school. But this made the twins the perfect insiders to get useful information.

“The school will remain closed for three months, starting next week”

Erica was quick to speak before her brother had a chance to open his mouth, and lost no occasion to show up with Adrian and the other kids.

“Excellent. This gives us a big timeframe to act. Very good.” Adrian looked pleased for real. He turned to Fleur. “As soon as the twins manage to steal the keys you’ll sneak inside. You’re the smallest, and least suspect of all of us”

Fleur nodded enthusiastically, and let out a little shriek.

“But mum doesn’t have the keys!”

Gavin said, snorting and looking at his sister as if he was seeking confirmation from her. She nodded, and both the kids looked at Adrian, waiting for him to come up with a solution.

“But if nobody has the keys, does it mean the school is always open?”

Alice wondered out loud, and Adrian told her that it was likely that the mayor had the keys. And it was a shame because the mayor had no kids. She had a couple of sons, but they were almost adults, and involving them in the plan was too risky.

“Seems like someone will have to sneak inside the mayor’s house.”

Adrian scratched his chin, thoughtful. Alice’s face lit up as she had an idea. “We should have the mayor invite someone’s parent to come over. We go with them and steal the keys.”

All the kids mumbled in agreement. It was a good plan, even though the hard part was a really hard one: how were they going to have the mayor invite their parents?

They were still thinking about it when Fleur’s mum came to interrupt them. “There you go, missy! Time to go home!”

Alice’s mother trailed her and informed her own daughter that it was time for them to go too. Alice didn’t want to leave, but she knew that if she held on long enough she wouldn’t have had to listen to her mum anymore. She looked at Adrian, who nodded in silence.

“Let’s see if we can come up with a plan tomorrow.” Alice giggled in their own secret language as she walked away. All the kids blinked at each other.