By Amy Dollery
THE priest shakes his head, before walking out of the room and closing the door on us. He does not look back. I turn to look at my sister and the
shame of it all bites me again. She smiles up at me and holds out her hand. I find I can barely take it, barely touch her. She
seems so unaware of what is happening, so sure we share in her happiness of this moment. Laid there serenely, her other hand rested on her rounded belly. I feel sick when I look at it, but also an obscene curiosity. Like in the old world where we are told a car accident was so rare people would slow down to look at it, even though what they saw was death. I turn from my sister and look out of the window.
I just can’t understand her happiness, her positivity. She tells me it is a new start, a new hope. She says she knows when the baby arrives, the whole world will see it like that. It is a miracle. But she is just deceiving herself. So stubbornly deceiving herself. The world will not see it as a miracle. The world will never be allowed to know about it. The people who matter, never see breaking the rules as a miracle. But they are watching. They are watching every second of this disgusting charade. They are watching her shame and by association my shame.
I find myself frightened to think of what will happen next. After. At night I go through it in my mind. I try to convince myself they will separate me from my sister. They must see us differently. We cannot face the same punishment, whatever that might be.
When they found out about her, I was summoned and they moved us both to this tiny house, within the boundaries of the compound. Out of sight of the world, but firmly in their vision. For my sister this little house just convinces her of the romance of her position. She sees the idea of staying in the little cottage, as going back to the old ways. To recapturing the life before The Event. That this is a cottage where two people who had fallen in love would live, quietly, lovingly, with their baby.
Of course I know it is all rubbish. The hut we live in, I have heard was part of an old pleasure park, before The Event. It is not a relic of old times, it was what we created to romanticise old times. To make it into a fairy story we tell our children. This place has no truth.
From the window of the cottage we can see the new shiny metal of the fertility unit. Where the proper babies will be growing within the test tubes. Each perfectly genetically produced. The ever rotting diseased genes left over from The Event, removed. The babies created with a purity, an innocence.
The admin room, which holds the lists of potential guardians, is at the front of the lab, well away from us. Accessible only by a barbed wire lined walkway. It is here, the vital work of matching the guardians to their babies takes place. The match of the guardians to each other will have already happened at the Ceremony.
We all know this way, is vital for the continuing of our race. We all want to be matched right and we all want to be honoured with the chance to bring up another child in this tradition. From the day we turned 13, our lives have been devoted to this. Dedicated to making sure we get matched correctly, that we meet the right standards to be paired with an elite at the ceremony and then committed to finally become guardians. The Ceremony would be the start, the end goal was to get on that list. The list in the file held in that admin office.
And I was nearly there. I had worked so hard to reach the correct levels. I was an exemplary student. I had been given awards for my dedication and honour. I had spent hours speaking to the right people, being seen in the right way. I knew that I was not the most beautiful candidate. That I was perhaps not the most alluring, my sister had been blessed with these genes, but looks are not the only thing taken into account in the Elite rankings. It is about much more than this. It is about the future of the country. I knew I would make an Elite match.
It would have been my ceremony today. I should have been dressing in white now and having flowers put into my hair. My own guardians should have been standing straight and tall in the marble gallery, proud in fulfilling their role. My match, would be standing behind the screen, ready to step forward. Ready to receive me. But today there is none of that. There are no flowers in my hair and no proud smiles. My guardians have been removed, to have their abilities investigated in the wake of my sister’s situation. I am covered in my sister’s disgrace.
“Jenny” I hear her whisper my name. I turn away from the window and look at her. “Jenny the pains are getting worse. I think the baby is coming”.
© Amy Dollery 2016