Velvet. It was perfect. A perfect luxury, sweet, and name. Especially as a name.
'Velvet, with Vel as a nickname... I like that. Maybe that should be my last request.' I thought as I brushed my fingertips across the surface of the couch. A velvet couch, surrounded by velvet walls, velvet lamp shades, even velvet coasters that I'm not allowed to touch. All the wood was a deep cherry, too. All around me was a deep, dreary red.
'A perfect red room, said the guard that escorted me to this room, for an imperfect red-head.'
Honestly, flawed would have been a much better fit for that sentence. I couldn't argue against anything else in that snarled remark though. But I couldn't help the chuckle that escaped me as he slammed the door shut. A man, whom I didn't even know, was criticizing me, an eighteen year old girl... No, woman. I'm a woman, according to the law.
Even if I complained to whoever would listen, the guard wouldn't even get a little, naughty post-it note on his record, all because he was a part of law enforcement. I can't really complain though, I was going to meet the same fate with or without my baby sister being a thing that happened. But still, with all of that, it didn't make the sheer joy on mother's face when she learned of the small being growing inside her uterus any less painful for me. Knowing that she was so ecstatic for a new daughter, when it meant her current one was to be pumped full of death juice in the process.
But I had no one to blame but myself. I didn't meet the standards, the expectations of society, so I was to be put down like a rabid dog. It was going to happen in the next two years, when they were to assess me along with hundreds of other twenty year olds suspected of being flawed. They would be found guilty, sleep in a room much like mine for the night, and the next day be killed at the same time as hundreds of others are interrogated in the courthouses. The cycle would repeat from there. Or like now, when my mother came up pregnant with what could be the perfect daughter when compared to the flawed human daughter that came before her... It happened before. My mother getting excited for a potential perfect child to replace the flawed one.
It happened with my older brother. He was temperamental, hot -headed, picking fights, especially with whom ever dared to spit at me, regardless of the laws. He was given the chance to shape up, become perfect, but then mother got pregnant with my younger brother. So, when the council ruled that he was to die so that my second brother could be born and raised perfect, that was that. No tears, no protests.
But something happened. A dozing night guard and a pair of hairclips, next thing everyone knew, my brother busted out of the same compound I was in now, and out of the ghetto before the alarm could blare through the city. Such has happened before, some escaped, others didn't. Those being dragged back by their ears, beaten and shot as examples.
I have no hope of such a thing happening for me, though. I have no friends, let alone people who cared enough about me to defy the council, to bust me out. I am spending the night in this velvet room, a night of comfort, and the next morning, I would die. Short and simple, no if, and's, or buts, I would die.
Three short knocks at the door broke me out of my reverie. My fingers snatched away from mindlessly scratching on the couch to clench into a fist out of instinct. Temper, the judges would say.
Whoever knocked didn't wait for my response, who would, I was a flawed human being. I honestly didn't expect the person who walked in, though.
"Mama." I said in a whisper. I really wasn't expecting her. If it wasn't for the bulging stomach stretching out her blouse, I might have been able to fool myself into thinking that the curly autumn hair, heart face, and narrow, green eyes belonged to another woman. A woman whom I didn't overhear talking to her husband about getting knocked up despite the law saying that each family can only have two children; one boy and one girl.
"Don't call me that," ever so blunt my ever-loving mother, "you're eighteen, you shouldn't still be calling me mama." She sat down next to me, close enough for me to smell her lotus perfume but far enough away to let me know exactly how she feels about being in the same room as me.
"You're fifty-two, hard to imagine you and papa still having a bit of fun in the bedroom." I bit the inside of my cheek to keep from snorting at the look on her face.
But her sigh of aggravation that followed made my humor drop, and anger at myself settled in. My mother has been the butt of every joke and pin cushion for every insult about being one of the families in the ghetto that kept having some of the "problem kids", I couldn't even begin to imagine how it must have worn down her sanity and her tolerance.
I leaned forwards and placed my calloused palms on my mother's shaking knees. My mind drifted to the time mama bought an entire basket of lotions and cream to smooth my skin that has turn rough after years of climbing trees, playing on the monkey bars at night, and practicing wall climbing with the side of our four story house.
"I'm sorry." Those words came as a surprise to both of us. But I was, I couldn't possibly begin to hate my mother when she could have so easily had me killed in defense of my flawed self, but didn't. That showed there was a little bit of love for me, and the few moments we had together just as mother and daughter built up too much love in me for her. "I'm sorry I wasn't perfect. I love you. So, I hope you'll listen to my last request."
My mother nodded, but that was it as far as a reaction.
"Name her Velvet and let Vel be her nickname." I placed a hand upon the round stomach, at the perfect time too as my baby sister kicked. I couldn't fight the smile.
"... Okay." Mother seemed so confused that I got too embarrassed to try and explain, but I was saved by the knocks.
Nothing more eventful happened, mother said "come in", a guard came in to escort her back out, and they left. No emotional last bit of eye contact, nothing.
It was then that I started to cry. For myself, the brother I hadn't seen since I was sixteen, the other brother whom I've hated for so long, my mother and father, but most of all I cried for Velvet. For the little sister I could never have, by any hope, as the law states one son and one daughter. A little sister I could have helped raise to see the real perfection in the world; the flawed beauty of life.
It was odd. Waking up to a sound you didn't realize you heard. Your subconscious hears it, acknowledges it, so it sends a message through the rest of the brain, and next thing you know, you're in a hypnagogic state, between awake and asleep. Knowing you should get up and investigate the sound of tapping at the walls when it was only the hum of air-conditioning that lulled you to sleep.
My eyes flickered back and forth, from corner to corner of the room, but it was like my body was full of lead and I was trying to swim out of the deep sea.
It felt that it took an eternity to finally be able to wiggle my toes, then my fingers, followed by the lifting and shifting of my arms and legs.
I was able to push myself up to sit on my knees. the darkness of the room strained at my still adjusting eyes, but the tapping wasn't coming from inside the room.
That much was obvious, as the culprit behind the noise would have to come into the room and it would have let in the light from the hall outside. Which would have instantly woke me up. I didn't want to risk walking around and stumbling into anything, alerting whomever might be sitting guard outside. So, on my hands and knees, I crawled around. The tapping didn't stop, but did seem to be fading.
Despite me crawling to every wall and pressing my ear to the surface, I couldn't pinpoint the source of the tapping. It didn't come from nowhere and everywhere, there was clearly someone or something making the noise, but I just couldn't find where since it sounded like it was coming from inside the walls.
I was beginning to think that maybe my mind tricked me into hearing the tapping. That it was the paranoia of knowing that I was going to die once the sun rose. I would have crawled right back to the couch, I've fallen asleep on but another sound made me stop. The different sound of a door handle jiggling, trying to open a door despite being locked. It couldn't have been a guard as they would have a key to the door.
But what was the most bizarre about it was that; I wasn't afraid. There was no such thing as murder in the city, though I would happily point out my situation as otherwise. So no one could have been trying to break in just to kill me when I was already on death row. That only left one possibility. Someone was trying to break me out.