Amalia sat, as she always did, at the far edge of the far table of the lunch room. And, as she always did, she sat alone.
She was never quite certain if she was isolated because the other children didn't like her, or because she didn't like them. Probably a mixture, if she was honest with herself. And if she was really honest with herself, there was probably some pride involved, too. Reaching out brought with it the chance of rejection, and she certainly wasn't going to bother reaching out to people who would reject her.
She eyed her plain black lunch bag with resignation. She knew exactly what it held, because it held what she always packed: an almond-butter-and-honey sandwich, a small baggie of baby carrots, an apple, and a glass bottle filled with tap water. Sometimes the apple was red, and sometimes it was green. But other than that things stayed as they always did.
She opened the bag and reached in for the water-bottle- but her fingers closed on nothing. Frowning, she groped further in, until her fingers brushed the bottom of the bag. Empty. She pulled the bag towards her and glared into its depths. Had someone stolen her lunch as a prank? But how could they have-
The bag wasn't quite empty, after all. A small, neatly folded sheet of paper lay tucked into one corner. A ransom note? Amalia grabbed it between her fingertips, frown deepening into a scowl. Should she even bother reading it? Or should she just throw it out, to keep from giving the perpetrator any satisfaction?
In the end curiosity won out, and she unfolded the paper. It was pale green, her favorite color, which only made her more angry. The message took up half the page, but before she even read them she was struck by how similar the handwriting was to her own.
In fact, it was exactly like her own, when she took her time and wrote neatly.
Amalia felt a chill go down her spine. Wasn't handwriting supposed to be unique? She glanced at the signature, but it wasn't a name: it only said "You", and so she started from the beginning.
I'm sorry about taking our lunch, but let's face it, it was the same boring thing we always have, and I needed to get your attention somehow. Plus it gives you the perfect excuse to go talk to Melissa. Her mom always packs her too much food. Trust me- I have your- our- best interests at heart, and Melissa is the key to everything. Go talk to her!
Amalia re-read the note, and then re-read it a second and third time. It stubbornly refused to make any sense whatsoever. Who thought she'd be dumb enough to believe there was a note from herself that she didn't remember writing? She sat back in consternation, then glanced over at the table where Melissa sat, laughing with a few other kids. Melissa wasn't exactly one of the Popular Kids, but nobody really seemed to actively dislike her, either. She didn't seem like the sort to play a prank like this. And she did seem to have a lot of food on her plate.
Amalia sucked in a deep breath. What should she do? She was hungry. And, more importantly, she was intrigued.