Your Life>My Life

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
People will take all measures necessary to eliminate all lies from the face of the Earth. Some people have a more extreme way of dealing with liars, and while trying to make the world a better place, they are blind to the fact that they are hurting other people and creating a darker dystopian society.

Submitted: November 14, 2013

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Submitted: November 14, 2013

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Your Life>My Life

Have you ever wanted to give up on the world?  It’s easy to think about, and I know people joke about it all the time, but have you ever really felt it, in the pit of your stomach, in the bottom of your heart?  I have.  Did you ever think that there was no point in living in such a messed up place anymore?  I did.  Have you ever been abandoned by everybody who meant the world to you?  I was.  But in all honesty, there was nothing I could have done to prevent any of these things from happening.  And it was all because of the rebels.

The rebels, otherwise known as the Cleansers, were a group of young men and women who had grown tired of lies and false relationships.  Led by their tenacious leader, Giovanna Jefferies, the Cleansers would come to your house and question everyone in your household individually.  Sometimes they would ask you about other family members, sometimes about friends or your significant other that did not live with you.  The questions they asked were simple, such as: “Where were you last night?” or “Who is your best friend?”  Then they would move on to the next person and ask the same type of questions.  But if you said the wrong answer, it was over for you.

For instance, if Jefferies or her personal army asked who your best friend was, and you answered “John”, they would ask John the same thing.  If he agreed that you indeed were his best friend, both of you were safe.  But if he said somebody else, both of you would be shot.  In front of your families.  While the Cleansers held a gun to your head and told you what to say before killing you.  If you were good, and agreed to what they demanded, they would kill you quickly.  But if you refused to speak, they would make sure you suffered a slow, painful death.  They wouldn’t kill you then.  No, that would have been too kind of them.  You would be escorted to the Cleanser Working Force.  That’s what happened to my brother.  Paul.

Paul had refused to admit that he had a girlfriend when the Cleansers came to our house.  Unfortunately, they had already visited his girlfriend Tasha, and she had revealed photos and a wealth of information about Paul, so the Cleansers knew he was lying.Stupid brat.  I would have shot her myself if the Cleanser brute hadn’t.  But I guess Paul wanted that for himself.  He had always been sort of a rebel.  I remember the day they took him away like it was yesterday.

“Who is your girlfriend?”

A woman named Victoria was questioning Paul.  She was seated across from him at our kitchen table.  My parents, my sister Christina, and myself were standing behind Paul, every one of us trembling slightly.  But Paul was calm.  He was hunched over in his chair, legs spread apart, arms folded on the table.

“Well?” Victoria growled.  She had a rifle underneath the chair.  Cleansers concealed their weapons during the interview in order to appear non-threatening.  How thoughtful of them.

“I told you, I don’t have a girlfriend,” Paul replied. 

“Are you sure?”

“Of course I’m sure.”

“Very well.”  Victoria reached under the table and took out the rifle.  She walked up to my brother, ignoring the cry from my mother and the gasp of protest from my father.  She held it to Paul’s forehead.  He was still sitting down. 

“Repeat after me,” she demanded quietly.  “ ‘I, Paul William Edwards, am a liar.  I have let my family down, and I am a disappointment to them.  Therefore, my place is not in this world, but in the gates of Hell.  I am sorry to my family, but you will be better off without a traitor like myself.’ ”

Silence followed.  I heard my own heart pounding.  Or maybe it had been Paul’s.  But for some reason, I couldn’t cry.  The longer the silence, the more satisfied I was.  Victoria, on the other hand, was not pleased.

Time stood still.  I was paralyzed, as was the rest of my family.  Victoria herself was not moving very much at all.  I think she was deciding what to do.  Then the world started spinning again.

She removed her gun, raised it in the air, and slammed it on top of Paul.  He collapsed to the ground.  My sister, who was just 5 years old, let out a wail.  I clamped my hand on her mouth to quiet her.

Victoria turned to face the rest of us.  “He is not dead yet,” she informed us.  “He will be sent to the Cleanser Working Force, and he will be worked harder than he has ever been worked before.  He won’t last two days.”  Her dark, ominous eyes traveled over each of our faces.  When she met my gaze, I held it evenly for a moment before she narrowed her eyes and said, “I am sorry you had to witness this, but traitors must be punished.  Our goal is to have a society where all citizens can be trusted.  It will lead to a happier life.  We are doing this for the good of you all.”

Suddenly I found my voice.  “You’re lying!” I blurted out.  “You’re only doing this for the good of yourselves!  You don’t care about us!”

Victoria took one step closer to me.  She must have been at least a foot taller than me, and I shrank beneath her figure.  She looked down at me.

“Young lady, it would do you well to shut your mouth and show some respect,” she hissed through clenched teeth.  She slapped me across the face, leaving a scar on my cheek that never healed.  I suspect it was from her gruesome fingernails.

She turned around and stalked away, throwing Paul over her back.

I stared after them, unable to fully comprehend the death sentence Paul had been given.  It was the last time I ever saw him.  He was 17.

I think that would have been my first day of 8th grade if I had gone to school.

 

Paul sent us a letter.  Or so it claimed to be from him.  They were not his words, and if it really had been written by him, he must have had another gun to his head forcing him to write.  Paul despised writing.  And he never expressed his feelings as openly as he did in the letter.

Regardless, I kept the letter for myself.  My parents had decided that Paul had died about a month after he was taken.  Slowly, my sister and I, too, accepted that he was no longer with us.  That letter was all I had left of my brother.

To this day, I still don’t understand why Paul lied, and then refused to talk.  I knew he wanted to bring down the rebels.  But he could have at least thought of his family before going through with his “plan” to stand up the Cleansers.  And frankly, it would have been easier for us to recover if he just died in front of us, rather than tearing our hair out, wondering if he was dead or alive every day.

God, he is such a pain!

My family gradually grew apart.  Just a couple of months later, my father decided to talk on the phone while he was driving.  Our only car was totaled.  It’s not that I didn’t care about my father; I loved him.  But I felt empty inside.  I didn’t want to feel like that, but I did.  The situation just happened so quickly after Paul was taken that it felt as though my world was falling apart in front of me, and there was nothing I could do about anything. 

My mother disappeared from my life after my father died.  I had just turned 14; Christina was 6.  I awoke one morning to her violently shaking me.

“She’s gone! She’s gone!” She sobbed, pulling on my shirt so roughly it was starting to fray on the sleeve.

“Wha-?” I mumbled, confused.  I blinked away the sleep in my eyes and made out a blurry image of Christina.

She had stopped shaking me now, but she was still crying.

“Christina, what’s going on?” I asked slowly, trying to remain calm.

“I-I dunno,” she stammered, clearly hysterical.  “I woke up and went to mom’s room to say good morning, and… She wasn’t there!  Her bed was made all nice, and she wasn’t downstairs making breakfast, and her things aren’t in her dresser, and I don’t know where she is!”

I lifted my head back and muttered a curse under my breath.  I wanted to believe that my mother could have just been running out to get something.  But as I searched her room, I found that Christina was right.  There was nothing there.

 

Looking back on my story, I know what you’re probably thinking: Wow, this girl’s had a rough life. 

Stop thinking that.  I’ve had enough.  I’ve heard just about every pity phrase in the book.  If I wanted your pity, I’d have crawled up to you on my hands and knees and begged you for help.  And trust me, if I ever have a choice, I’ll take my last breath before kneeling before somebody.  No question.

You might be wondering why I’ve chosen to share my story with you.  And I don’t really know myself.  It’s just a feeling I have, you know?  It’s that feeling you get when you feel burdened by something, almost like a guilty conscience.  Even though I didn’t do anything wrong, I just want you to know how good of a life you have.  Because it could be way worse… You could be me.

So before you go and complain about how you didn’t get the car you wanted, that your boyfriend broke up with you, that your parents hate you… Just remember this story, my story.  I have survived the Cleansers, poverty, loss of multiple family members, and have managed to take care of both my younger sister and myself.  It’s life, and it’s rough.

But if I can make it, so can you.

 

 


© Copyright 2019 Lauren Anne. All rights reserved.

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