to fall asleep, don’t remember walking to my bedroom and sprawling across the bed. Don’t remember tucking myself beneath the two blankets or my little sister muzzling her way beneath my arm. The sweetest memories, filled with love and joy, lost to me. Is this what erasing them would feel like? Wiping clean not only the anger I’ve felt but all the love I’ve ever known as well? The halo of peace around my sister’s head, the abandonment in which she sleeps, the bliss and total contentment she feels in not being connected to her life her, on earth, is this what it would be?
She cannot exist in both places at once. Is this heaven? She looks like an angel, with her fine blonde hair and glowing lids, and the…thread of drool that is pooling on my shoulder. Well, hey, what did I tell you? The girl sleeps with abandonment. The thought makes me giggle, which in turn makes her snort, and I can’t hold the bubbly laughter in. She wakes with a start to the shaking of my body, and gives me a strange look.
“MMMMmmgerawaamtired.” And then she’s out again. I gently pull myself away from her, sliding from between her arms and setting her head down on a pillow. I turn to look at her for possibly my last time, and notice the piece of gauze peeking from the quarter sleeve of her nightgown, on her forearm. My stomach builds with dread and anger. Of course. The Sevens got their tattoos yesterday. The thought triggers a glance at my own left forearm, where the scratch of black ink rests, engraved painfully with a needle. I can tell by the absence of tear streaks under her eyes that she was brave enough not to cry. Smart enough not to have cried. Many of the kids in my year walking out with heads held high and smiles on their faces, showing off their number, their identity.
We use those numbers for everything. They’re our currency and money, how they keep track of us. Every time you enter somewhere, they scan your number. Each number is assigned to a specific meal plan, set of clothes and hygienic utensils, each set of everything. Each time you leave on an assignment, you add extra points to your total. You are allowed to begin adding these points when you are seventeen years of age. You can receive these points younger, however, by either excelling in training and school, or by association of your legal guardian. This is meant to keep a fair and equal reservation of resources available to your Quadrant. But we all know how these things tend to work. My family and I live in Quadrant 4, because our family contains four people. It’s much better than Quadrant 3, which we lived in for a short time before my sister was born. I don’t remember much of it, but the few memories I do contain make me glad for where I live now. Quadrants, aside from keeping track of the population, also split our tasks on a daily basis. Where to work and train and such.
There are currently eight Quadrants, due to a drastic rise in the population. There were 14, but an epidemic almost squandered our population. Quadrant 8 is agriculture, 7 is science and medicine, 6, engineering, 5, maintenance, 4, textile, 3, construction, 2, mining, 1, hunting and military. The pairing of these assignments and tasks corresponds with the Quadrants to reinforce reproduction. Meaning, simply, that the more children you have, the better job you get. And the less you need to be assigned for military actions. All Quadrants must produce a certain number of goods each month. If these numbers are not fulfilled, the city will reduce your points, making it that much harder to provide for a family. The city, by the way, is a slang term that the Quadrants use to stay out of their way. Any mentioning of the true name triggers the electrodes of your tattoo to record a message, and the next time you are scanned, it is sent in to the City to be investigated for any signs of rebellion