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Grade
12

“Let’s be together Sarah,” John grabbed my hands squeezing them.

“John, don’t be silly you know that we aren’t approved,”

“I know you don’t care. I can hear in your voice that you want this just as much as I do,” I tried to look away.

“Sarah please look at me,” he pleaded, fear was swimming in his dark brown eyes. His golden hair reflecting the rays of the sun as we sat in the park. I had never seen that much fear in him before, and he had been my best friend for 10 years. We met when we were 10 years old and have been inseparable since. We never spoke to each other about our true feelings. We had an unspoken love for each other, and we knew it would never be possible. The government’s plan was to set us up with different people. To them, our personalities didn’t match, or at least the computer they use thought so. The government has convinced the majority of the world that the program knows who they are, and knows what is best for them. The program puts people together who benefit society and the economy; who will create the best children? Children that will “lead” our future. There can be no errors, and errors are created when you don’t follow the program. My life was planned when I turned 12, just like everybody else. Every child on their 12th birthday must take a test that evaluates their mind, skills, and body. This one test is logged into the program and decides where you will be placed. It was decided for me that the best fit was to become a nurse. When we enter middle school we began our training for the rest of our lives, separated from our childhood friends. If we are lucky we make new ones. Somehow, even though John was sent to the trades program we still saw each other every day.  At 18 we entered our careers fully trained, and now 21 we must choose a life partner. The government will send you a list of “recommendations” to choose from on your birthday, and you must choose one person to spend your entire life with. John was not on my list.

“John, I’m sorry, but you know we can’t”

“Sarah I don’t care, you can argue all you want but I don’t want to be with anyone else but you. I know you feel the same, and that is final.” He pulls me into a hug, and it feels like he will never let me go. We then began our secret relationship, hidden in the shadows, hidden from the watching and suspicious eyes. We would begin to fight so we would never have to hide again.  

“I’m sorry we cannot approve this marriage.”

“What do you mean?”

“You two as a couple is not satisfactory to the government, and will have no benefit to society.” The lady stared at us, annoyance growing across her face.

I held back my tears as I held John’s hand, squeezing him as if he was going to slip from my fingers.

“I don’t care if the government doesn’t approve of it, we are in love and it’s all that matters,” my voice was shaky as I spoke.

“That does not matter, you as a couple does not benefit those around you. If you would like we can set you two up with partners that would ben-”

John interrupted, “No that will be fine, we will go now.” He put his arm across my shoulder, guiding me towards the door.

“It will be fine, we can find a way to make it work,” John whispered in an attempt to comfort me. Despite his effort, the tears in my eyes started to well up, holding back months of frustration.

“What if they never approve,” panic beginning to grow in my voice, “we can never have children even if we don’t get married. They will just take them away from us!” John pushed open the large gold door out into the city, cold air flooded my nostrils making the pools of tears in my eyes finally run. A sob escaped from my throat, John quickly pulled me into him. His jacket rough against my face. My hands went to my stomach.

“They are gonna take our baby,” I whisper.

“I won’t let them,” he said, grabbing my face and lifting my chin so I would look him in the eyes, “I will come up with a plan to get us out of here.”

When I walked through my door, my mail laid in a pile and laying on top was a letter from the government. Within it was the list of names I had seen many times, the names of the strangers who were deemed to be my soulmates. Angry, I rushed to my kitchen drawer and pulled out a lighter. I flicked it on and placed the corner over the small flame, slowly the flame grew and ate the paper and the names on it. The ashes fell into the sink below it, all that was left of the paper was washed away by the water. I slowly walked to my bedroom laying in bed, not bothering to take off my shoes.

The room was dark, the street lights from the city creating a dim glow. A knock. Silence. A harder knock. No one would dare to walk outside after curfew. Only the government officials were able to do that. A louder knock. They were coming for me, they somehow figured my secret out. Shaking I got up, my feet felt like lead as I inched closer to the door. My hand reached slowly towards the door handle, I could feel them behind the door, waiting to pounce and take me away. To take my child away. I turned the doorknob, and my breath caught in my chest. John’s eyes met mine, and the air in my chest was released in a sigh. He pulled me into him,

“It’s okay Sarah, it’s just me,” we moved into my apartment. Closing the door behind us, and the darkness swallowed us

“We need to go now”

“But, we can’t it’s past curfew, how did you even get here anyway.”

“I will tell you later, I have no time to explain and we need to leave now. Don’t bother packing, we will be fine.”

“But John, this is crazy we mi-,” he cut me off by grabbing my hands.

“Sarah you have to trust me,” his voice was shaky..

“I do trust you,” I whispered.

He let go off my hands, replacing them with the doorknob. He slowly opened the door, and we stepped out into the hallway, the light flooding our eyes. We quietly walked down the hallway to the staircase. Each step down them filled me with more questions and anxiety, I wouldn’t dare speak despite my thoughts bouncing around in my head. We finally reached the bottom floor, in front of us was the door that leads outside. We both took a deep breath, he pushed open the door. A loud screech of an alarm filled my ears, John grabbed and pulled me out into the cold night. He sprinted, practically dragging me behind him, and when we turned the corner a figure moved out of the shadow 5 feet ahead of us. John stopped dead in his tracks, his shoulders rising rapidly up and down. My breath caught in my throat. The figure raised up a pistol, aimed right for us, John quickly leaped into the alley next to us.

“Hurry, quietly get into that dumpster, I’ll find somewhere else,” he rushed over to it and lifted up the heavy lid. I quickly got in, he quietly closed the lid, then I heard his running footsteps moving farther down the alley. Faster footsteps followed his previous. They stopped. It was quiet, too quiet.  Suddenly thunder rang in my ears, bouncing between the walls of the dumpster and echoing throughout my head. Static filled the silence after the gunshot.

“I took down John Steven, I don’t know where Sarah Albert went. She can’t be far I will contact you once both subjects have been caught,” the man reported back to his headquarters. I held my breath, fearing that he could hear my heartbeat, and I stayed like that until his footsteps had disappeared down the alley. I slowly lifted up the lid, looking towards the direction the gunshot had taken place. Leaning against the brick wall was John, his breathing was ragged, I leaped out of the dumpster and ran over to him. I collapsed to my knees by his side, with shaking hands I grab him, his eyes flickered open. A weak smile grows over his pale lips, he reaches one hand up to the side of my face even though he winced with pain.

Tears were streaming down my cheeks and through I sobs I tried to say, “John you can’t leave me, I need you, you can make it, you… we just got to get you help.”

“Sarah, it’s okay”

“No it's not, it will never be okay if you leave.”

“Sarah, listen to me, you have to go.”

“No, I won’t leave y-”

“Sarah, you have to continue on, go to the East River, there is someone waiting there for you. He will take you to safety.”

My voice began to rise, I didn’t care if the man would come back. All I needed was John. “I will go get him he can help you,” I had begun to panic, I needed to get us out of here. Together.

John’s voice was soft, it was beginning to fade, “Sarah, you know that’s not going to happen, just stay here with me for a little longer. Promise to me that you will go after?”
“John!”

“Do you promise?”

“Yes, of course, I promise.”

“I love you, Sarah,” John’s hand left my face to rest in his lap, I gently moved his head to rest his head on my lap.

“I love you too,” I whispered.

There were no tears in his brown eyes, even as the life slowly left them. When he was gone I closed his eyes, resting his head on the ground. Someone would find his body in the morning, and where it will go I would never know where. I would never be able to visit him, but one day we would meet again. My hands rested on my stomach, the only thing I would have left of him. I gave his forehead one last kiss and took one step towards the East.