Provider

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 2 (v.1)

Submitted: April 21, 2013

Reads: 28

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Submitted: April 21, 2013

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The sky was pure white and she was wrapped in soft cotton. It was warm here, and bright, not like the gray, cold outdoors. Where was she? Is this where the souls of the dead go? She was in a bed -was it a bed? She had never really seen one- and she was wearing clothing. Clothing! Soft fabric and neat stitches! Was this the Heaven her mother and grandmother spoke of? This was paradise!

She sat up and took in her surroundings. A chair, carved neatly from pale wood and padded with a large white cushion, sat on one side of the bed. A wooden table sat on the other side, smooth and brown. Some odd-looking pills were sitting on it, next to a clear container of some sort, with no lid. A kind of pinkish liquid was in the container, and an open packet of light pink powder sat next to it. What was this?

Perplexed by the strange items atop the table, she scanned the walls -light blue with images of strange people framed in wood- and the rest of the ceiling. There was a glowing bulb that nearly blinded her nailed there.

Where was she?

The blue door creaked open slowly, and a head popped in. She gasped! Atop the head sat the blue felt beret of a Provider, trimmed in the silver braid that declared its wearer a senior officer. Heart racing, she shrank under the covers, whimpering. If a Provider saw her here, she would literally be dead. The Provider’s voice chuckled softly.

“Don’t be afraid, my child.”

Her head slowly peeked out from beneath the thick white comforter. Sitting in the padded chair was the face of an older woman with twinkling blue eyes and cropped, gray-flecked brown curls. She wore the full Provider uniform of crisp navy pants sewn with silver thread, a navy jacket with broad shoulders and a neatly organized array of patches and star pins, a shimmering silver lamè shirt that could barely be seen below the jacket, and large cleated black boots. But her face was not raw and rude like those of other Providers. Who could this kind one be?

“You were nearly dead when I found you. I was on, ah, cleanup duty, and I saw you collapsed and didn’t want you to get tossed over the fence with the others. So you are in my house now. This is my spare room. I’ve been feeding you on nutritional smoothie powder packs and special medicine pills for pain and all sorts of other things. You’ve woken up a few times over the last few days; I don’t know if you remember. But anyhow, you have been here for about six days.”

“So…” The girl hadn’t spoke in days, and was shocked at how easily the ragged voice slipped from her lips. “So, this isn’t a paradise, and I’m not in Heaven?”

The woman laughed again, this time heartily. “A paradise? More like a simple little house! Since I am one of the few Providers without a big family, I get one of the tiny houses. This is nothing compared to the family mansions some have! Why, I haven’t even decorated the spare room you are in now with anything but some crummy old digital photos!” She paused, mouth still open, looking at the girl’s jealously awestruck face. “Sorry. I forget that you citizens live outside.”

The girl smiled with her mouth, but her eyes looked like they were about to spill over with tears. She was silent for a while.

“Sorry. Truly, I’m sorry.” said the woman solemnly. This time, the girl managed a real smile, a damp one, but real. “My name is Delane Salvador. And you are Citizen 9805857.”

There was silence again. The girl glanced at Delane and at the photographs around the room. One was of the head Provider, smiling smugly over a lined group of lesser Providers, each with a stoic and blank expression. One of them was a younger, chestnut-haired Delane, without silver trim on her uniform and with fewer stars and patches. The next photo was of a child, probably Delane again, in a bright yellow smock, running around a tidy garden with a small boy in green coverall shorts. There was a picture of a beautiful place that had to be outside of the fence, with tall hills capped with snow and thick, dark evergreens draped in a soft curtain of white. Flakes drifted down from the sky, and brilliant red birds frolicked in one of the trees.

“Have you been there?” gaped the girl.

“Yes, many years ago.”

There were other photos too; some of Providers, some which must have been from Provider families that she could not identify, and other lovely places that no poor Citizen could ever dream of seeing. And there… in the very back of the room… was a cluster of small pictures. Some were of a blond little girl in pink clothing, smiling, but the rest were all photographs of people unlike any of the others on the walls.

They were Citizens. A few were of a young blond woman, probably the older version of the little girl… but why was the formerly happy child a naked, huddled Citizen? Others were of the woman over various time frames, sometimes with a brooding man, later with children. The husband was eventually replaced by children that grew older and older until a young man was spotted hugging the daughter. After a few years, the woman’s son was gone and a baby girl was with them, then a second female child. The most recent images were of the daughter with her lover and their daughters, then with just one daughter, then the mother and daughter only…

The girl opened and shut her mouth, silently gasping as her eyes flitted over the images. Her breaths drew in faster and faster.

The Citizens in the photos were her grandparents, parents, sister, and her.


© Copyright 2018 Ella Winter. All rights reserved.

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