Chapter 1- The Name

He was called Mr. Fielding. Or Matthew Fielding. Or just Matthew. Sometimes Matt, to the few who were close to him. But in the halls of Windridge Prep, his named was commonly heard. You see, Windrigde was a school for girls from grades five through nine. And Mr. Fielding was the most gorgeous teacher who ever walked the face of the earth. This is how his story became so complicatedly and irreversibly twisted with my own.

It would have been the average day for me, a typical ninth grade student, if that letter had never arrived. It could even have been a good day, which was unusual for me. But the letter managed to ruin my entire structured world with its few words.

The official looking address label and the unfamiliar return address, so coldly typed in black, Times New Roman font, should have given away the unpleasant nature of the contents. However, my curiosity overwhelmed my foreboding feelings, and I proceeded to open it.

Later, I would wish that I had never opened it, just left the letter forgotten on the kitchen counter. But I suppose fate had its way with me. I most certainly wouldn't be where I am now if it weren't for that fateful letter. Then again, is where I am now really so wonderful?

The letter contained an impersonal, formal heading. It gave the name of a lawyer firm and its address and phone number. Below the heading, the letter began with the words "To Whom It May Concern". The greeting was, like the rest of the letter, cold and uninviting. Still, I continued to read.

"Due to recent drops in population, the government has become concerned by the lack of new children being born each year. After much deliberation, it has decided on a course of action. All men and women between the ages of 16 and 40 must be married and produce a child within five years. Exemptions from this law include those who are sterile or barren, and therefore not capable of reproduction, and those who are physically or mentally handicapped in a way that would prevent them from fulfilling the duties prescribed by the law." It read.

I sat back for a moment, allowing my mind to digest the shocking information I had just received. I took a deep breath, reminding myself to remain calm. Little did I know, the worst was yet to come. Because the bottom of the page brought me the news that would change my life- all 16 years of it- forever. The bottom of that page told me whom it was that I was to marry. The bottom of the page said:

"Government databases and compatibility reports have been compiled, and a spouse has been selected for you. If you are currently in a relationship, you may notify us and reject the arranged marriage in favor of your romantic interest. However, if you do not have another person to marry, you will be required to marry the person whose name is stated below. Your chosen arranged spouse's name is:

Matthew Fielding of Windridge, VA, aged 22