809

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
Today's the day Jesse's survey results come in for his future. Will he get what he wanted or will he disappoint his mother yet again?

Submitted: June 07, 2015

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Submitted: June 07, 2015

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“Happy Birthday, Jesse!” My mother exclaims while I’m still half-sleep in bed. I shoot up at her sudden shriek and see her holding a small cake in her hands, covered in white frosting with “Happy Birthday!” written on it with purple frosting. I run a hand through my bed-head, sighing. My body feels like it didn’t get enough sleep. I did stay up all night, so that could be something to do with it.

I give my mom a fake, sleepy smile. Another birthday, I thought, another stale day of responsibilities and school. Repetition isn’t something I like. Day in, day out, the days seem to go by faster the more I do this.

The only good thing today is that I turn eighteen. That means I’m eligible for a job in this damn country. I throw my feet from over my bed and stand up, taking the cake. My mom takes my head and gives me a kiss on the forehead. Still holding my face, she stares at me through her brown eyes like a mother who got everything she asked for in a son. It looks like she was about to cry with the way her eyes look, all watery and stuff. I set the cake down on my nightstand. “I’ll eat it later,” I say. “I have to get ready for school.”

“Oh, right,” she says, looking me up and down at my shirtless body. “Breakfast will be ready in a couple minutes.”

“I’ll be there,” I say.

 

I take the bus to school. I graduate next week. Today’s the last day for seniors to attend school. We’ll be getting our job listings, the results of our career surveys. Whatever they give us is what we are stuck with. Some of us are given a plethora of potentialhigh-paying jobs and others are only given jobs to dig holes and move rocks. It’s an unfair world. But it’s just the way things are.

The bus pulls up to the curb. I roll up my sleeve, revealing the band we’re given at birth. The scanner scans my identification code with a green light that moves left to right. The automated bus doors creak open and I step on it. It smells rank, like piss, and the floor is sticky. I hate taking the bus. The people on there look so dreary and gray, there is never a bus driver to regulate the altercations that took place—all we had to do was sit there like cramped sardines and wait for us to get to our stop. I sit down next to this little elderly woman holding her little purse near the front. She scoots over when I sit, though I’m not near her. There wasn’t any need for that. There’s enough room on this bench for the both of us. She mutters something inaudible under her breath, avoiding eye contact with me. I smack my teeth. I hate this world.

I was born into it. But I was not about to be molded by it. I made it a mission to discourage myself from the idea that everyone had to comply with what they told us to do for, whoever was in charge. Who says we can’t say what we want? The bus stops, like it does at every bus stop whether there are people waiting or not. My school is only a block’s walk away from here. I get off the bus before it decides to close the door and I’ll be trapped here for a whole half mile. I’m not about to walk that distance.

Before I could stand, the old lady grabs hold of my jacket. She looks at me, shaking her head. She lets go. I step off the bus before the doors close, wondering about the woman. It’s whatever though, I get my results today. The 100-page survey we had to take last week was pain to go through, but I chose my questions carefully, sometimes even reconsidering what I put down. I’m sure to receive a good list of jobs. Scanning my identification code and repeating the words, “I give my undying loyalty to the country” in the microphone, I walk through the front doors of my school with confidence on my shoulders.

 

My heart is racing. I can feel it pounding through my chest like a jackhammer breaking the ground. It's the last class of the day. It's hot outside, barely any clouds and the air conditioner is broken in here. The teacher is going around holding the manila folders containing our futures. I’m nervous. I’m so, very nervous, and excited too. Once these job listings come through for me, I can finally move out of the house, away from my overbearing mother. She’s so strict, and not subtle with her disappointment. She once threatened to lock me in my room and study when she saw I had a C in a class. She’s living her life through me. Her listings back in high school only came with three options: nanny, maid, or housewife. She chose housewife. Unless it came from her, she won’t help others, just like what others are taught in this country. She wants me to do good. She doesn’t want me to do the things she was never able to, she wants the things she was never able to do. It was certain that if I don’t get a good listing of jobs, all hell would break lose at home.

“Here you go Jesse,” the teacher says with an unenthusiastic voice. I take the folder from her. After handing out the rest, she returns to her desk and says, “Open them.”

I unravel the string that keeps the envelope closed. I exhale deeply, trying to calm myself down as I pull out the sheets of paper. I’m shaking all over.

“What…?” My eyes look over the page. They examine it. Fear pierces my heart my heart like it was stabbed with a knife. The job listings for me are nothing more than dead-end jobs like retail clerk and menial office work. What happened? I was so careful! I received near perfect scores in all of my subjects.

“Hey, Jesse, what did you get?” my classmate Adam asks. He looks over at my paper but I slapped my hand over it before he had a good look at it.

“I, uh—neurosurgeon a-and some other things,” I reply, feigning a smile.

“Oh, cool! I got college professor!”

“Heh, just like you wanted.” He pats me on the back and goes back over to his paper.

“I hope you’ve gotten the jobs you wanted because those are your only choices,” the teacher says. She looks over to her desk, eyes low. “This was the only choice I had…,” she whispered under her breath. She dismisses us for the day.

 

It hurts, my cheek where my mother slapped me. It's red and stings when I touch it. I showed her the listing of jobs they gave me when I came home. She was waiting for me outside, probably all day for my return with my “perfect” list of jobs for her “perfect” son. Today was her everything. She wasn’t able to have more children after my birth, so she couldn’t have any disappointments from her only child. I am the only thing that was able to prove her existence in this world. And for her, she’s nothing now.

“How could you do this to me!” She screams, hitting me everywhere she could. “You are better than this! How am I supposed to live with a disappointment like you, huh! Huh!” She kicks my knee and I fall. I don’t fight back. I deserve this. “GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!” I deserve that too. “PACK YOUR BAGS AND LEAVE!”

I walk up to my room as my mother slumps in her chair, covering her face and crying. I don’t care anymore.

I destroyed my room, threw everywhere off my dresser and desk, broke the window and flipped the mattress over out of fits of anger. I fall onto my bed and stare at the ceiling.

“I hate this country,” I say out loud.

My room shakes violently and disappears, in seconds, like a computer screen glitching and turning off.

I wake up in a dim, green-lit room. The containment unit I’m in opens. Steam escapes through the sides and runs across the wire riddled floor. I’m covered in wires and sensors that monitor my vitals. A door suddenly slides opens up in front of me. The stunning white light forces me to shield my eyes. People in armor holding handguns and rifles entering the room and surround me and the others who are in some sort of cryogenic suspension, asleep and unaware. Where am I?

“He’s awake,” one of the people say. “Retrieve him.”

Three of the people advance towards me. I look at each of them. I’m not scared, I’m not feeling anything. They take me by the arms, lift me from my container and set me on the cold ground. They don’t care that I’m not moving my feet, they’re still able to drag my malnourished body out of the room. I look back. I see my mother in a containment unit near mine.

The people in armor take me through a brightly lit hallway and into a similarly lit, white room. They drop me onto my knees.

“Arms on your head,” orders one of the men. I do as he says. I feel something cold press my neck. A balding old man with white hair wearing a suit steps in front of me. I look up.

“You are sentenced to death under the charges of unlawful dialogue against the 809 building,” he announces. He turns away. The old man takes out a handkerchief, wipes his head and says, “Do it.”

My eardrums pop at the sounds of the gun and then everything goes black. 


© Copyright 2017 Steven Friday . All rights reserved.

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