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Four Times Charlie Left (and One Time She Stayed)

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1.

Her name is Martha (like Lazarus's sister: a good stay-at-home name). She's sixteen and her parents are trying to make her like boys, and she thinks, very soft and very firm, no, and she packs her backpack with her best clothes and a few books and all the money she has, and she leaves for school and doesn't come back.


2.

Her name is Beth (like the suffragette) and she's learned how to make the government believe that Elizabeth Anthony is exactly who she says she is. She's got what she needs. She leaves before she gets caught.


3.

Her name is Ada ("I was named after Ada Lovelace," she explains, laughing, and it's so much truer than anyone could ever guess) and she's working as a receptionist for a dentist who thinks she's twenty-three instead of twenty, a college grad instead of a runaway. He also, she finds out, thinks she's interested in him. She doesn't know how to make him listen and finally she just doesn't show up for work one day. She's on a bus out of town, going going gone.


4.

Her name is Charlie (Charlene Strong was in the news when she was picking it out) and she has a decent job and then she doesn't.


+1.

Her name is Eve (for beginnings) and she's at Comic-Con when she meets Becky Rosen, whose ex-boyfriend ditched her to get assumed into heaven during the apocalypse.

Eve says, "That's awful."

"Well, yeah," Becky says, sighing. "People do, though. Leave."

Eve keeps waiting for something to go wrong, for the urge to run to boil up again, but it doesn't--not when they hook up then, or when Becky calls her after they both get home, or on their first scheduled date or when they move in together. After a while, she stops waiting.