Love was just a word that people said, an empty emotionless word. In fact, I had never heard either of my parents utter it once to each other. I jumped down from the top bunk just as soon as our Guardian popped her head in the door. Morning girls, she trilled. Incorporation Day! And then she was gone — off to the next room to say the exact same thing. She worked her way through the entire hall, every day, within just a few minutes.
I had no idea how she could sound so lively, so early in the morning. After our Guardian left the room, I sighed to myself with relief. It was a blessing to have a wealthy and prominent father, I would not have to worry; I would not be destined to the life of a Guardian, no matter what the tests showed. I ran out the door toward the bathroom and Lily yelled out after me, Want me to curl your hair today? Sure, I yelled back. I really wished we had more than just a sink in our room. Saturdays were usually a school day. Our weeks were regimented, with six days assigned to schooling and organized activities.
Sunday had always been our day of rest. When we were Year Six students, Trainer Alpha taught us that in the past, Sunday was the most common day of religious observance. But with the numerous acts of terror and killings carried out in the name of one god or another, the practicing of religion was finally outlawed just over a century ago. All religious texts, symbols, and places of worship were destroyed.
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For several years after, the few groups that openly rebelled were exposed and all government benefits were withdrawn. Eventually, the die-hards were forced to flee the cities and perished in the wilds without protection, food, or shelter. I guess Sunday was kept as a day of rest out of habit. Incorporation Day was traditionally held on a Saturday. My guess was that The Council decided we young creatures needed a day of rest after being around the opposite sex for the first time in so many years.
I actually remembered playing with boys, back home I think, somewhere where it was green and wild; not like the manicured gardens in Training Tech. I remembered running through lush, tall grass by a stream.
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There were a group of us, consisting of both boys and girls. But it was all fuzzy.
The memory was from before I turned five, from before my parents drove me to Training Tech and dropped me off with the head Guardian. After I exited the stall, I walked to the sink and stared at myself as I washed my hands. I looked tired; my eyes were ringed with grey shadows.
The tall trees, the dark shadowed places where things hide, the woman with the dark hair screaming at me, the strange need to run I wished the dreams would stop. I wished…. I shook my head and looked over to where she and Willow were standing, openly laughing at me. I look completely and totally zonkered.
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I am a mess. Willow smiled at me in the mirror as the two passed behind. I trailed my hands along the walls of the dormitory as I walked back to my room. I had wandered these identical halls for so long, I could hardly remember anything else. I only had a few fuzzy, unreliable, flashes of life before Training Tech. How many people could clearly remember something that happened when they were four? It was determined that the poor were over breeding, childhood obesity was at an all time high, education standards were inconsistent, and because not all people were immunized, certain diseases long thought conquered had begun to return.
The Council seized control and implemented birth control, education, fitness, nutrition, and general health standards. A few years later, when Training Tech opened its doors, the raising of children was taken over as well. My mother said that the people were reluctant to comply with the changes, so my great-great grandfather persuaded The Council to see the truth… that the new government knew what was best for the survival of our society.
When I got back into our room, Lily practically bounced off the walls. She was already dressed in our standard uniform that consisted of a brown skirt and a white shirt, with a pink and brown striped tie at the neck; I hated pink. Her hair had been wet down, and her natural spiral curls rearranged.
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Poor Lily repeatedly told our Guardian that it would be easier on her hair if she could shower in the morning. But the rules stated that we shower exactly one hour before lights out, and the rules would not be bent for a hairstyle. Our lives would be less mandated then, our classes varied, our days less scheduled. When we were Year One. Aspen goads him with that, like he should have been on The Council earlier. She likes to remind him that her family has held a seat on The Council since it was formed.
You will never have to worry about being a Guardian or being stuck with some other low level job. Neither will you. Your father may not be Council, but he is in charge of Armory Development. When I was ten. She insisted I stop and told me to call her by her first name, instead. Are you going to curl my hair or not? I said and plopped myself on the chair in front of our self designated glamour station.
I hated talking about my family. My mother, Aspen, was always cold and detached whenever she chose to show up on a Social Visit Day. She always had a fake smile for the other mothers, well, the ones she deemed important enough to grant eye contact. They have always shown genuine affection for Lily, as well as each other. At another alarm sounded, it was our signal that it was time to quickly make our way to the cafeteria.
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Breakfast - a mundane experience. Multigrain oat bread, a protein and vitamin shake, and a piece of fruit were prepared on identical trays that had to be picked up from the service area, while we kept ourselves in an orderly line. Then we all sat down to eat. Sharing was forbidden, but talking was not. Mealtime was our time. The gossip always flowed, and Lily and I started to get an earful the moment we sat down at our table. I get to see my brother, Ash, today, Holly squealed with excitement. My mother always brings a picture of him when she visits, but I can hardly remember anything about him.
He definitely grew into his good looks, like I did. You girls are in for a treat! I forgot you have a twin. I said, and gulped down my drink as fast as I could.
enter site We both had blonde hair and blue eyes the last time I saw him, but his hair is much darker now, in the last picture I saw. He used to snatch my toys and run from me all the time when we were little. I think he hated that I was the older twin. I am seven minutes older than him, you know, Holly smiled. Petunia and Petals or Pet 1 and Pet 2 - as we liked to call them - were the only identical twins at our Training Tech.
Although Lily and I had heard our Guardian say something about there being another set of identical twins… males… in Three we lived in One - where the founding government resided. As the rest of the table continued on with their giggles and stories, I began to rub at my left wrist. I repeated the back and forth motion, not fully aware that I was doing it.