"Keep moving everyone, single file." A middle aged man said as he held the backstage door open for a group of third graders. "Keep your hands to yourselves and once you get on stage, keep quiet." His words had no emotion as if he were reading aloud from an instruction manual.
A ginger haired boy from the line ignored the man's orders. He turned around to face his friend behind him. "My parents are out there!" The ginger said in the type of loud voice which was normal for children his age to speak in when excited.
"You don't know that!" The friend said matter-of-factly. "Your parents never come!"
"Yeah, but this time things will be different." The boy insisted.
A girl squirmed nervously from near the front of the line.
"Stand straight." A teacher conducted. "Once you get up there I want you to look as presentable as possible. Just like last year, all you are to do is make your way on stage and shake hands with the principal. Lindsey Archer, you're first."
The girl who had been shaking a moment ago tried to force a smile. "D-do you think my parents will be out there?" She asked the teacher.
"Get up there." The teacher said, ignoring Lindsey's question.
The principal, a dominating, well-dressed man, stood at the center of the stage and held a microphone. Lindsey approached and he shook her hand and then as if he were a mayor proudly presenting a new statue he turned to the audience and declared, "Lindsey finished this year with honours in Math." The audience cheered. "Lindsey, what do you like most about this school?" The principal asked and put his microphone up to Lindsey.
"Recess," Lindsey said with a smile.
The audience let out a soft sound of awe. They adored Lindsey and this made the principal even happier. He brought the mic back up to his face and said, "Who wants Lindsey? I'll start the bid at $200; any takers?" The audience shot up. It seemed like everyone wanted Lindsey, after all who didn't want a successful child?
The ginger boy watched the show from near the end of the line. Nearly three years had passed since the first auction and this was his last. Each year seemed harder to be adopted and nobody wanted a kid past third grade, especially since that meant he was marked as a failure for three years in a row.
Yet the boy continued to hold onto the hope that this year would be different. Even though the families knew nothing about him maybe one person would be able to see past the bad report card and know that he was a good person underneath. Wasn't that how things were supposed to go? In TV things always worked out for the good guys in the end. The boy believed that surely he would have a happy ending too.
The boy's name was called and the principal presented him with slightly less enthusiasm than with Lindsey. "This is Jordan Spenser. He finished the year with a seventy five percent average!" The principal looked to Jordan with a friendly smile and asked, "What do you like most about this school?"
"Um..." Jordan started but he wasn't sure. Options of what to say ran through his head but nothing seemed to fit. Just say something, he told himself but nothing came to mind. "I-I'm not sure."
"Well what do you want to be when you're older?" The principal asked; his smile had begun to fade.
"I don't know. Wait, a-actually I'd like to be a writer."
The principal snickered. Once he regained himself he turned and looked Jordan in the eyes. "Your mark in English is really low. Nobody is going to hire a writer with a low English mark. Pick again." The principal said in a mocking tone.
"I-I don't know." Jordan stammered. "I like writing."
"Okay," The principal said with that wide, trademark smile of his. Now Jordan could see the smile for what it really was. The shining white teeth which Jordan had mistook as a sign that the principal was on his side and that he wouldn't let Jordan miss out on getting a family now showed more clearly as a stage prop. The principal never cared about Jordan; the only thing he loved was money. "Let's start the bid at $100. Any takers? Anyone?" Nobody in the audience raised their hand.
"There is always one or two of them that don't get adopted during their third year." One of the teachers whispered from behind the stage. "Pretty soon he'll be going away to a factory where he'll work with low pay for the rest of his life."
"Yeah I know, but I always kind of felt sorry for Jordan." Another teacher whispered back. "I really didn't want to see him end up this way. You see we're a lot more alike than anybody knows."
"What do you mean? You're a success."
"Not always. I worked in the factory too."

~ phantom130 5 (December 2013)