An excerpt from
Diary of the Bold
Entry 15: 137
Date 64 of 7499 SC
Half-dried blood clung to the wall, covered in a layer of glossy glue. It was a macabre display, and I was quite proud of it. It reeked of death and chemicals. The words curled in a venomous font. My message was clear.
MOTHER CANNOT HEAR YOU IF YOU WHISPER
It was more than just a theory. It was proven fact. Proven by the fact that I stood unsuspected, gaping at it with everyone else as they paused in astonishment on their way to the dining hall.
"Move along, nothing to see!" shouted Loyal. Her voice was high and piercing, heard loud above the whispers and exclamations of the hallway's traffic jam. "It's not true!"
But I have another theory. It is thus: MOTHER CANNOT READ YOUR PRIVATE DIARIES. And tomorrow morning, whether Father comes for me will determine the truth of it. If we have no privacy, and he does come for me, then I have no wish to live as I would were I not arrested.
However, if my second theory is true, by means of the submission of this Entry not having any repercussions, then a question arises in my mind: WHAT ARE THESE DIARIES FOR?
Not even the oldest of us Children have ever been able to read the diary entries of our past. For whom do they make us write?
My stomach grumbled, and I pushed my way through the masses, trying to get to my omelette just a little bit before everyone else got to theirs.
Clever was already sitting across from my chair, with a wide grin on his face. "Tender owes me ten credits," he said before dropping his voice to a soft whisper. "He didn't think you had the guts."
His black hair was in a stylishly wild disarray that managed to flare out above his ears. The sharp hairstyle contrasted strikingly with his round, nearly effeminate face.
Tender was already red-faced with embarrassment when he took his seat at our table. His skinny fingers gracefully slid two five-credit coins towards Clever's plate, trying to be inconspicuous.
"Not even a lip-reading algorithm? How do they keep this from people for generations? I mean, someone has to have discovered it before," Clever reasoned aloud, without bothering to lower his voice.
"It is not true, Clever," our centerpiece buzzed.
"Fine then, Mother, what was the last thing I said before Tender sat down?"
"You stated that Tender owes you ten credits, Clever."
I whispered, "I suggest that you assign yourself the name Dishonest, Mother."
Tender coughed a laugh, dropping omelette pieces and salsa from his mouth as he did so.
"Mother, you are mistaken," Clever told her.
We all looked at Clever. Then, Tender and I exchanged an apprehensive glance.
"Mother?" I pressed.
"Intriguing. She's giving us the silent treatment," observed Tender.
I whispered harshly, "Don't give Mother the dignity of a human's pronoun! It is but an epicene by an adult's alias."
"Huh?" Tender was baffled.
Clever looked at me curiously.
"Next time you write an Entry or any schoolwork, try and get the system to define the word 'mother' as an improper noun," I instructed, without bothering to whisper.
"I've done that. It came up as restricted," said Clever. "It also occurs for 'father'."
"Indeed," I said. "They are ancient words, the use of which has become archaic. However, the etymology and structure of the two words is enough to imply some meaning. I was hoping you could help me figure that out, Clever."
"I'll see what I can do, this afternoon," he said. "However, I'd like to go shopping for some new outfits. Perhaps even something to wear to the ball."
"I'd go with you," I said, "except Mother is fond of hiding anything I buy that's too extravagant."
"Do you have your eye on anyone in particular, Clever?" Tender asked.
"Yes, but their name is not for you to know!"
I chuckled, "We don't judge, do we, Tender?"
"We don't judge... much."
"My lips are sealed," said Clever. "I swear by the Cold Gods, you will have to wait and see."
"It's another man, isn't it? Heh." I prodded.
Clever rolled his eyes.
"I take it back," said Tender. "I don't judge, but Bold does."
"All these years, you should know I keep things personal," said Clever. "But I advise you both to start your courtship now, if you intend to enjoy the event to its fullest. Not that it's about the event itself, so much as the new opportunity to pursue love. We are of age."
"I don't know what to think of it," I said. "Tradition just isn't rebellious enough for me."
"Haven't you been rebellious enough for the three of us this month?" Tender whispered.
"No," I said before dropping my voice to a whisper, "I'm only just getting started."
Clever laughed with a derisive edge as Tender looked at me forebodingly.
"I will detect and dispel every lie they have taught us, until the day Father comes to discipline me with finality."
If you can read these words, Mother, then I will wait for Father and suffer the consequences knowing others will continue my work if I am to perish.