Melanie, the Indentured Friend
Melanie appeared in front of me. She was about my age, with brown hair where I had black, currently tied back in a braid. “Hey, what’s up? I was studyi—oh! Who’s this?”
“Melanie, this is Katherine. Kat, this is Mel.”
Kat blinked. “Wait…you own your best friend?”
“Of course not,” Mel said indignantly. “I’m just indentured, that’s all.”
“It was her idea,” I protested.
“My dad was heavily invested in Owlbear-Stearns,” Mel said. “When it went belly-up, he lost just about everything, and couldn’t afford to keep me in school. But Lin’s got a big allowance and would want to keep me around, and I knew I could trust her not to take advantage. Both our parents were okay with it, so we bought the ring, and she pays for my tuition.”
“We kind of both do,” I said. “We both have to work in a shop after school to earn part of it.”
“But—how can you be okay with this?” Kat asked.
“Well, her only order to me was that if she ever gave me another one, I should tell her where to stick it,” Mel explained.