Manquer l'unicité est aussi pire qu'un manque de nom.
Manquer l'unicité est aussi pire qu'un manque de nom. Missing uniqueness is as bad as a lack of name, that’s what my grandmother always says. She refuses to accept the newest laws of The Center. “My name will always be Glorya Jasmine Kellfé,” she stubbornly snarls when I call her G-87463. The latest law clearly states the opposite of my grandmothers’ philosophy. The government decided that names hold us back from our duty to society. I am A-42793 now, no longer called Arowdesent, a stupid name that my mother gave me because she thought it... “had a ring to it.” Whatever that means.
“Goodbye, G-87463,” I cheerfully called out to my fuming grandmother.
“Its Glorya,” she snapped at me, “Now shoo! Your mother will kill me if you are late to your D.A.J.”
As I sprinted away from my grandmother’s abode, fearing that I would indeed be late, I remembered the time I had a name. I got teased everyday at D.A.J; for the name Arowdesent was weird and out of place among the Cloe’s and the Lana’s. I was different, and even if it was just a small difference, it was enough to be shunned by my community. Alamaile, the city I live in, even went to The Center, to complain about those with names uncommon to Alamaile folk. Eventually, the law was passed about the number-names, and all of a sudden, I clicked into society, like a puzzle piece into a puzzle of people.
I darted into the Water-Energy building, right as the city clock sang, signaling five-o'clock sharp. I had just barely made it. Any later and I would have received severe chastisement for my wrongdoings. I slid into the icy pool of water, and started swimming the twenty laps I would need to complete before the clock rung six. If I failed, another punishment would be inflicted. My D.A.J days were Tuesdays, like today. On other days, I went to high school. But on Tuesdays, I got the day off, until my D.A.J of course. D.A.J stands for Duty and Job. My Duty and Job to The Center was to swim for energy. Our labor turned into electricity to fuel The Center’s thirst for electronics and lights, while the people of Alamaile got a flashlight at most. So every Tuesday, me and nineteen other sixteen-year-olds gathered at the Water-Energy building and swam like our lives depended on it. Which in a way, they did.
As I finally finished my laps, another swimmer, a girl, T-70283, walked over to me, while drying her poofy raven hair with a fluffy cotton towel. “Did you hear?,” she whispered. “The Center is posting a new rule at seven!”
“What,” I asked, confused, “But the name rule just came out last month!”
Tayra just shrugged her shoulders. “See ya A-42793,” she called out as she left the building. “I'm gonna see that list.” And with that, she was gone.
I raced home and hurled myself through the door. I shouted “Gillian!” and then I realized my mistake.”I mean G-54093!” I searched the house for my brother. “There you are!” I finally exclaimed. “There's an new rule posted on The Center wall!”
My brother looked puzzled. “But they-” he started.
“I'm confused too,” I interrupted. “But we should go look before word gets out and the wall gets over crowded. My brother and I raced to the plaza by the towering Center wall. The rule was posted. “All four cities, Alamaile, Bonatilini, Catarea, and Dalphinium at the current age of eleven,” I read aloud. “Will be moved to the community Catarea to undergo an very important, top secret experiment? What!” Every eleven-year-old in the small crowd turned a pale shade of white, including my brother.
“They must have a good reason for the rule, they always do. Remember, The Center knows be-” a boy from my class tried to say. A scream interrupted the boy’s words.
“Shoot,” I mumbled. A few panicking parents had arrived. My parents hadn’t, for their duty was to plant the radish crop Alamalie was known for. Their work ran late into the darkest hour. They wouldn't know about the new rule until tomorrow. But the angry mob of concerned parents threatened to trample my brother and I. I grabbed my brothers hand and we sprinted to our families abode. Once inside, my brother crumpled to the ground in an ocean of tears.
“I..I sniff..don’t wanna go,” he cried out. “I want to stay here with you and mom and dad!” he was a mess of salty tears.
“Gillian it’s ok.” I soothed, “You don’t want to get a chastisement. Or worse.” If one was to rebel or decide not to do their duty, they would be publicly executed. “The boy at the wall was right. The Center knows best, The Center does best.” I recited. It was what we rehearsed in school after morning bell.
“Will…sniff, you,” my brother sniveled, “Even miss me?”
“Of course I will G-54093,” I told him with a sad smile, “You are my favorite brother!” He giggled. “And,” I added, “You can still visit on holidays!” He looked better, so I left him to go start dinner.
The next morning, a gray and cloudy Wednesday, my brother left. He gave me a long hug and hopped aboard a big yellow bus. With some time left before school, I went to visit my grandmother, a few houses down. “You fool,” she growled as I stepped through the door, “How could you just...give your brother away like that!”
My grandmother never yelled at me. She’s been upset, but never yelled. “He’s helping the community,” I sputtered.
“Pheh,” she spat, “He is your brother,” she emphasized in her French accent. “I thought you were different, but I guess you're just like the others. Your brother wasn’t! Gillian listened when I told him Manquer l'unicité est aussi pire qu'un manque de nom. He let me call him Gillian. You Arrowdesent, a”
“G-54093. His name is G-54093.” I dared whisper. Then I left.
At school the next day, I thought about my grandmother's harsh words. I was mid-thought when the boy from the wall breathlessly ran over towards me. “Arro.. no A-42793,” he panted, “I’m Kayden...no wait, K-39210. Your brother and my sister, Clara, er, whatever, are in danger.”
“What?” I questioned, not alarmed by the boys’ words. “I’m sure The Center can help them, they always do.”
“But you see, A-42793, The Center is the very thing endangering them.” he sadly shook his head. “We have been trusting the enemy.”
“You are lying,” I accused, “The Center knows best, The Center does best.” There was no way our loyal Center would hurt us. They protected us from everything. Every threat we had ever known usually disappeared within a week or so. I walked away from the boy and went to go tell the chasiment officer that this...Kayden, was up to no good. The officer thanked me, and I left the school. As I was walking I had this strange feeling in my stomach. I thought it was from the leftover salmon I had eaten for lunch, when all of a sudden an alarm rang through the crowded streets.
“What’s going on,” I asked a confused looking guy in a fedora.
“I heard it was a breakout, girl,” he answered, appearing to be startled by the question. “The farmers at my D.A.J. were talking about some sorta rebellion. I thought it best to keep my name out of it.”
All of a sudden, a rush of filthy looking children sprinted my way. I grabbed one by her filthy arm and asked her what the heck was going on.
“A boy..gasp..broke in to the labs.” she wheezed. “Where all us...pant..new eleven-year-olds were working on some sort of serum. The..gasp..boy told us to run, that the serum we were making was to be tested on us, a death serum, I think, to catch future criminals or something. One of us believe very strongly that The Center would never do such thing and...wheeze..and stabbed a syringe filled with the serum into his flesh. He crumpled to the floor and that's when we ran. But rumour has it that some girl had tipped off the officer. Shot a hole straight through the boy, I think his name was Kayden or something.” Then she sprinted after her fellow escapees.
I felt like there was a hole in my stomach. The boy had warned me about this and I had ignored him. Now he was dead and it was all my fault for tipping off the head of chasiment. Then I realized something truly horrifying. Gillian hadn’t been among the other eleven-year-old runaways. Was it possible that he was the boy with the syringe? All because I told him to trust The Center? I crumpled to the floor, I think I fainted or something. The next day I woke up in my grandmother’s house. Her face was fresh with tears, confirming my greatest fear. My brother was dead. Because of me.
Later that week my grandmother finally spoke to me, her words full of hate, more painful to the ear than nails on a chalkboard. “There offering you a reward,” she spat. “For tipping of the officers.”
“All I want to do is leave Alamaile,” I mumbled.
“Well,” she growled. “It’s Tuesday. I suggest you go to your Duty and Job. Go be The Center’s lapdog for one more day.”
And so I did.