Author: The Flying Dolphin of Love PM
This is a dystopian story. Apparently FictionPress doesn't have that genre though, so I'm stuck with Sci-Fi. Anyway, this is a short story about Ava Kearl, that I wrote for a school project. I might continue it though, if I get positive reviews :Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Sci-Fi - Words: 2,360 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 03-30-12 - id: 3009440
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Daily Life of Ava Kearl
Here in North America, ever since the day you were born, ever since you could comprehend the smallest of words, everyone is told that change is a bad thing. And don't get me wrong, it is, but sometimes you just wish for more. I guess it's a mistake of the brain, like they say. But I can't help thinking that there could be more to the everyday routine of life.
So that's why, when I wake up to the flat buzz of my alarm clock, set to go off exactly at 7:00 am, I wish that my life would be different.
I know it's dangerous and wrong to think like this, but curiosity had always been a weakness of mine.
"Curiosity killed the cat," my mother always said. When I was little, maybe a mere five or six year old, I used to think that she was just being silly. But now, at age fifteen, I understand what she means by this old saying.
See, my mother was in the generation that lived before the Enlightenment. She had never really been happy with the changes that it brought, but she was smart enough to keep her mouth shut, knowing that the government disliked it when people questioned their actions. If not for me, she would have been long gone, away from this "paradise" and into the Barrens, the land where places called Canada and Mexico used to be back in her day. It's hard to get back and forth between the Barrens, because of the huge wall that outlines the United States, meant to keep the Different away. Technically, no one's supposed to know about the Different, because they're not supposed to be able to survive without our help. But everyone does anyway, because of the occasional appearances they make, like their riots and vandalism and whatnot.
Anyway, my mother pretends that she's content with life, but it's fairly obvious to see that she's not. Sometimes I feel guilty for holding her back. Other times, times when I am more rational, I feel like I'm doing her a favor. Life here in the United States is good. I'm content. At least, I should be content. It's better than the clips they show us of the Barrens, all dry and polluted and uninhabitable. Although it may not be the perfect way to live, this life without change is the best thing we can get. Frankly, it isn't even that bad.
We grow up in a safe environment, with good schools, teachers, students, media, and parents. Afterwards, we head to college, which is mandatory in order to maintain a proper education. Once the four years passes, we submit a form which lists all of our information, from our date of birth, to our reputation, to our interests. Using this info, we are paired with a suitable match whom we end up marrying. It also determines our job, which is also assigned to us. However, whether you work at the recycling center, or whether you work as a doctor, everyone is paid the same salary: $50,000 per year. Based off of the data from the old days, the government believes that this is the necessary amount every family needs to support themselves. Part of the money is sent towards education, food, shelter, and taxes. Overall, every person gets about $1,200 each year for their own personal needs.
I drag my feet out of bed, and force my eyes open, not wanting to be off schedule. I've heard gruesome stories about people who don't follow it. If you're late-even to breakfast-then you're in trouble. Somehow, the government always manages to find out where and when you are. Recently, there have been rumors going around about cameras being installed in the walls. I don't want to take my chances of being late.
Eyelids still drooping, I stumble my way over to my closet. Arranged neatly inside is my formal clothing (a single sea-green dress, layered with blue netting), my pajamas (six pairs of fleece-pants with soft shirts of each color-red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and gray-for each day of the week), and my clothes for everyday wear (jeans and t-shirts with the same colors as the pajamas). I strip out of my pajamas and replace them with a fresh pair of jeans and a blue t-shirt, to celebrate Thursday.
After clumsily brushing my teeth for exactly two minutes, I jog downstairs, being greeted with the scent of pancakes. It was one of the reasons why I looked forward to Thursdays; I just loved the warm, sweet smell they had.
My mother and I eat for exactly thirty minutes, keeping silent because talking while eating breakfast is not allowed. The pancakes really aren't that bad, considering that they used to be frozen. Every week, the food delivery people drive to everyone's houses, handing out the food for each week. The amount of food we get is based off of our age and weight.
The bell signals that breakfast time is up, and that it's time for me to head to school. I jump up and place my plate gently down into the sink, where I'll wash it in the evening. Mother nods at me-her way of saying good-bye. I wave without much enthusiasm.
We're not really encouraged to care for each other. It's better, honestly. It's better that we aren't close now, so it'll be easier for the future, when I'll go off, get paired, and move in with somebody. In the future, I'll rarely ever see her again.
Footsteps slap on the sidewalk. Tap. Tap tap. Tap. There are people next to me, walking on the cement walkway. Each person has their own rhythm-some footsteps are fast, jumpy and excited. Others are slow, taking their time, reluctant to enter the day. I guess I'm a mix of both. Yes, I'm eager to get out of my awkward house, and yes, I don't want to be late to school. But at the same time, I really don't want to go. School is…uncomfortable. We all walk to school with our heads bowed the whole way, even after we reach our lockers, and even after we get to class. This is one of the many school rules we are made to follow. I'm fine with it, really, since being quiet is in my nature. But other kids have it harder. They're more outspoken. I can see the desperate looks in their eyes as they attempt to hold their tongues.
Of course, I can also tell people's personalities from the two hours of socializing we get after school. School ends at 3 o'clock, and we're allowed to head off to the youth center from then, until five. Well, we're more than just "allowed" to go. We're made to.
The youth center is filled with "fun" approved games, like chess or crossword puzzles. There are a hundred books there-each one approved, since we shouldn't be reading anything with bad influence like they did in the old days. I've read each book at least three times, and memorized my favorites' bindings. Most of them are non-fiction, but they keep a few fiction novels to remind us of the danger of the old days, and indirectly, how much we've improved. Although I'm supposed to see them as warnings, they're actually kind of…beautiful, if you think about it.
My fingers tighten around a few strands of hair and I start absentmindedly twisting and pulling on it. School passes and eventually I find myself at the youth center. Kids are chattering and laughing, like nothing is wrong. I sit up against a wall, doing Sudoku problems on a pad where my crossed legs intersect. As I'm in the middle of writing a four, Isabelle comes up to me, a nervous grin spread across her face.
"Hey, Ava," Isabelle greets me. Her smile seems forced. My hand jerks at her voice, making the bottom of the 4, the end of it, stick out of its box. It looks so awkward, all thin and lanky, that I erase and rewrite it. But underneath, there's still a small indentation, the last piece of visible proof that the four had ever existed.
"Hey," I reply, trying to act nonchalant. There was a warm, sinking feeling inside of me, like something was burning in my stomach. I thought about saying something friendly, but she spoke before I could conjure up a greeting.
"Mind if I join you?" she asks, sitting down next to me before I can even nod. I fight the urge to shift away, not wanting her to be offended. I'm not comfortable around people, especially those like the outgoing extrovert, Isabelle. I'm usually left alone, to my own business. It's not like I'm a social outcast or anything, but I just like being alone. I like how I don't have to act in a certain way, or pretend to be someone else in order to impress myself. It's also my own subtle way of rebelling. They want us to socialize, since studies show that it's necessary for a "proper" childhood. Call me a loner; I don't care. This is one law I refuse to obey.
We're quiet for the next few minutes. I pretend to work on my puzzle, writing and erasing random numbers to look like I'm actually paying attention to it. Isabelle sits, staring out at an imaginary place.
I'm about to get up and leave with some sort of excuse, but she beats me to it again, by sighing inwardly. She seems worried-eyebrows knit, lips pursed, and cheeks flushed. It looks abnormal on her usually smiling face. But what surprises me even more is her next sentence.
"Have you ever wondered about the Barrens?" she asks, looking reluctant. My skin tingles with excitement and terror. I set the pad down, on the other side of me. Crossing my arms, I feel goose bumps, even though the room is far from cold.
"Of course," I tell her. It isn't unnatural. Everyone wonders about it sometimes. My eyes scan the room, searching for any of those rumored cameras. I'm sure Isabelle has heard of them too, but at the moment, she doesn't seem to care.
"It's weird, huh?" she mutters, her voice dropping so only I can hear her. "It's weird how we have such a big wall that separates us from them, and yet the government doesn't do anything about it." I'm staring at her, wondering how I had mistaken Isabelle my whole life. Maybe there was something underneath the jokes and the laugher she always wore around.
"What are you-"
"Haven't you ever wanted to know what it looks like?" Her voice hardens. My eyes are wide, looking at Isabelle with some admiration and some fear. "I mean, besides the same clips they show us on T.V. Haven't you ever wanted to see it for yourself?" My throat is dry. I want to tell her I have, because it's true, but I can't find the right words. "Let me see your Sudoku puzzle," she says, in a much louder, much lighter tone. I hand it to her, not sure what she wants with it. Pencil in hand, she begins to write on the rough, recycled paper. "Oh, this is easy!" she gushes. But she's not even doing it. She's writing something-an address, I think. And that's when I realize what she's doing.
I breathe sharply. But before I can ask her a question, she's up and off the floor, walking away to the other side of the room. Looking over her shoulder, she calls to me. "Tell me if you need anything! You know where to find me!" She gestures in the direction she was heading in, and turns around.
If only she was talking about the other side of the room.
When dinner is over and the dishes are washed, I climb upstairs and into my room, flinging my old clothes in the laundry chute and exchanging them with blue pajamas. Throwing myself onto the bed, I sigh. After Isabelle spoke with me, I've been restless ever since. I've read her little note at least twenty times, and everything on it has almost been embedded in my mind. Just to make sure that I wasn't hallucinating, I open the crumpled page, which had been ripped out of its notebook. There it is.
There are two things. There's an address, which I know the exact location of (it's an isolated farm that's about a 30 minute walk from my house). And there's a time: 11:00 pm.
Clearly, she wants me to meet her at the farm at 11:00. I'd go out of curiosity, but eleven o'clock is after lights out (which is at 10:30). Am I really that curious, that I would sneak out late? Am I really that gullible, that I would believe the words of Isabelle Donerman, a girl who before this day, had only spoken to me twice?
Am I really that stupid, that I would risk getting caught by the Patrols, just to see a wasteland that I want no part of?
No. This isn't me. I'm curious, but I'm not stupid. It leaves me guilty, but as I climb into bed right before lights out, I know, deep inside, that it's the right choice. The cons outnumber the pros. I'll have to ditch Isabelle. She'll have to make do without me.