Miranda never got any mail. Never.
In the five years she had lived at Trindle’s Boarding School, not once had she ever received a single letter or postcard. Each day during lunch time, she listened to the other students’ names being called, and watched them rip open envelopes and excitedly read their letters from friends and family. But Miranda had no friends or family. She knew her name would never be called, but she still felt a twinge of hope when Miss Trindle stood at the head of the long lunch table and thumbed through the mail. She hoped for a teeny miracle.
Then one day it happened.
Miranda sat in the library’s window seat, a special privilege she had earned that week by scoring one hundred percent on her poetry exercise titled The Virtues of Miss Trindle. The other twelve year-old girls sat cross-legged on the dusty floor, backs erect, looking uncomfortable and slightly green—an envious shade of green, to be more precise. They were most likely scheming on how to make Miranda wish she had never earned the window seat. Miss Trindle droned on about proper female etiquette. Miranda tuned her out.
Instead she stole glances out the large window. She counted the number of automobiles that puttered past the school. She studied the pedestrians that loitered at the bus stop across the street. Her brown eyes focused on one burly woman toting a large canvas bag, the green leafy frills of lettuce peeking up.
Middle-aged woman wearing black scuffed shoes of a practical nature, buttoned up wool coat, bandaged fingers—probably a professional cook who walks to work.
Miranda imagined a selection of groceries in the bag and the delicious meals they could render. Chicken pot pie, Caesar salad, broccoli-cheese soup—no, clam chowder, and oh! Beef wellington! She had never tasted beef wellington, but had read about it in a neglected cook book in the school kitchen. She imagined living in a nice home with a real bed and all the meals she could desire. Her hollow stomach rumbled as always.
Miranda focused intently on the woman, who she deemed a cook, trying to see her color. It didn’t always work. If a person felt a strong emotion or had been festering in a mood long enough, Miranda could see his or her color. Through some deductive reasoning and years of practice, she had come to assign colors to mean emotions or moods, and could tell people’s moods by the colors shading them. She was almost always right these days. She used to think this was normal, that everyone could see each other’s colors, until she mentioned it to a few classmates. They reported her to Miss Trindle, who referred her to a psychologist, who dismissed Miranda from treatment after she convinced him it had been make-believe. From that day on, she kept her mouth shut about her ability, partly to avoid anymore therapists, and partly because she agreed with her peers when they called her “Freaky Miranda”.