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From the Inside
Itâ€˜s different from a funeral. Or a hospital visit to someone terminally ill. You go into that prepared, knowing the emotions you’re up against. But when it finds you, completely unaware and without a clue, that’s when death gets scary.
I was scared not only for my own life, but for the lives around me. I didn’t tell anyone. There was nothing for me to do, so I just continued with my daily routine. I didn’t know when or how it would happen, I only knew.
In a way I guess I knew I was going to die all along. The things I did…Julienne…I squeezed the thoughts back out of my mind, swallowing a lump in my throat that wanted me to say her name out loud. It had been years…seven at least. Somehow I had lost track over time.
I sat on the bed and stared at the marshmallow-colored walls. My cell phone vibrated on the desk. Mother, again. I left it. I leaned back against the wall and started picking at the snowy blanket. My eyes grew heavy. I fought it until my sight started crossing, and then I finally gave up and faded into sleep.
My mind was a blur of flashing lights and her face. Of the terrible thing that we did that night, the reason that I had to die. There were tears. She was crying. I wanted to go to her, to hold her, but I couldn’t. My arms were behind my back. I wanted to scream but the words were caught in my throat. She kept getting farther and farther away, until I could no longer see her.
I awoke breathing heavily and hit my head against the wall. I massaged the sore spot and blinked a few times. My ears stopped ringing and I noticed the slight ding of the alarm vibrating out of the walls. Time for work.
The white jump suit was hanging in my closet along with all the other white and grey clothes, with a few blotches of blue thrown into the mixture. To be honest I was getting tired of the colors. Everything in the apartment was white, with bare walls and scarce furniture. It was much like my closet, white with some grey and blue thrown in at random places. The bathroom was connected to my bedroom, and was the same ghastly colors as the rest of the rooms.
I leaned down and opened the cabinet under the sink. It was stacked with round grey containers about the size of a small apple. I grabbed one and sat it on the counter. I looked into the mirror while I brushed my hair. I appeared similar to everyone else here. Dark hair, blue eyes, with a few of my own traits. I had never really wondered why we all looked so much alike. I shrugged my shoulders, though there was no one to shrug to but myself. The brush was laying in the drawer, next to my toothbrush and toothpaste. I brushed my hair back before opening the grey container. The sticky stuff inside was blue and smelled strongly like alcohol and rotten apples.
I stuck my fingers into it. They were sucked in by the thick concoction. I grimaced as they were submerged in wet, sticky goop. I lifted my hand and there was a loud, wet, popping noise. I swallowed hard as I rubbed it in, pushing my hair back and making sure it was smooth. Finally I finished and ran my hand under the hot tap.
I never did make it to work that night. I made it out into the hall were the hooded figure dressed in black pushed me against the wall next to my door. The hood fell a little bit, revealing the comforting grey-green eyes. But they were different now. Filled with the knowledge of things I had never seen. “Julienne.“ I whispered. She moved a ringed finger to her thick lips.
I heard the footsteps now. I wondered how she knew someone was coming, but didn’t dwell on it. A door beeped as it was unlocked, then it was shut with a dull click. She released me slowly.
“Ty.” She whispered. Her eyes lit up a bit. “Key.” She said with a nod towards my door. I took out the thin strip of plastic and ran it through the scanner. The door beeped and we slipped inside. I placed my palm against the Pad and the pale blue lights flicked on. Julienne had pulled her hood down revealing shiny violet hair.
I watched her remove the sweatshirt. Thin black, curving lines ran down the length of one arm, down to her finger and wrapped around, making it appear like she was wearing a ring. Her nose had a small, round diamond in it. Her eyes were lined with black, increasing their intensity.
I gaped at her. She had always been original, the most different out of all of our people. But now she was something completely unique-at least to me. She rolled her neck, popping it, and stretched her arms out behind her. I noticed she had lost weight, I could see her ribs poking through the thin fabric of the spaghetti strap tank top.
I suddenly noticed all of the questions I had for her, leaking out my mind and pushing against my lips. She bit her bottom lip. She looked worried and aware, tense.
“How-” I started, but she immediately cut me off, raising a hand and looking around the room warily.
“Not right now. We have to get out of here first.” She was like a ghost standing in front of me. I had thought she was dead, everyone did. I wondered what her story was, but I didn’t ask. There was a sudden rush of emotions as I realized that she was really standing in front of me. First was anger.
“Julienne,” Her eyes flashed. It seemed like seconds before she was right next to me with my wrist in her grip.
“Don’t. That is not my name. It’s Jade.” She loosened her grip on my arm, but didn’t let go. I just stared at her, trying to read her eyes. It was difficult now, they were sullen and dark, only a slight glimmer left.
“I know what you’re thinking. I know. And it doesn’t have to be this way. Not anymore.” I couldn’t say anything.
“Our whole lives have been wrong. Everything they taught us.” I bit down on my lip. This wasn’t true. I couldn’t look at her. She knew what had to happen to us now, she knew. I felt like screaming. Somehow she could tell.
She dug her nails into my wrist, her forceful grey-green eyes pushing the thought into my mind.
“Everything they taught us, it’s all been wrong.” She repeated fiercely, trying to embed the words. I couldn’t sort them out. This was our life, I had done something wrong, and so had she, and now we must die for it. I said the thought out loud. She shook her head.
“We don’t have to. There’s a whole world out there. We don’t have to die.” She was confusing me. Thinking about this hurt. Now it was my turn to shake my head.
“What about my mother, father, my brothers and sisters?” She laughed sarcastically, moving her fingers from their firm grip on my wrist. I rubbed the tender spot where her nails had been. She raised a hand and tucked a strand of cerulean behind her pierced ear.
“They’re not your real parents.” My breath seemed to catch in my throat. There was something wrong with her. There had to be. She had been on the Outside, and they had done something to her.
She took a stack of papers out of her bag. She glanced at them and then looking away, stuck them bluntly towards me. I took the stack without really thinking. I didn’t feel like I was in my own body.
My mouth went dry when I saw a picture of myself as a toddler right in the middle of the page. It said â€˜Missing’ great big at the top in bold, red letters, and under it read, “Laik Gerrie. Three years old. Last seen July 4, 1985. Blue eyes, brown ha..” A rush of faint and dark memories hit me in the chest. I struggled to breath for a moment as fireworks flashed before my eyes. I threw the paper to the floor and stared at a picture of my little sister. How could I have missed this? I swallowed with difficulty, trying not to break down. Julienne put her hand over mine. The papers had begun to crumple in my grasp. She carefully took them from me and sat them aside. It took me a moment to comprehend that her small hand was in mine.
“They’ve been pumping you with this since you were three. You were so innocent Ty, we all were. We trusted them because we thought they were our family.” She took a piece of folded paper out of her pocket and handed it to me. I unfolded it with shaking fingers, carefully gripping it and running my eyes over it. The little girl had dark curls and grey-green eyes. Her name was Jade Taylor.
I looked back up at Jade. She had her arms crossed over her chest, her eyes closed.
“My real parents are Camille and David Taylor.” She lifted her eyes to find mine.
“I can find yours, too.”