A young girl, daughter of an illusionist, doesn't get why her world is the way it is. After finding a strange animal and suffering a head injury, her world starts to reveal itself to her. It's as if a mask had been covering her eyes...until now.
The horn rang out over the speakers. Chairs scratched against the hard floor as students hurried to stand. In one motion, everyone's hands took grasp of their necks.
The second horn rang and we chanted in one voice, "I give my word to Him, because He made me who I am, that I am grateful we are different. I am grateful we are not the same. He made us get along by leaving us only facts to hold up the floor beneath our feet today."
My hand let go of my neck. It had been cold and warmth was now seeping into the print it left on my skin. Moving my eyes to the right and left, I checked on everyone out of curiosity. I knew no one had died... Even Nadia knows what they told us was a myth... They only wanted to scare us into believing, but it didn't work.
Everyone remembers their first day of kindergarten in our school... we had had story time. The book was called The Boy Who Didn't Obey. It told us about a little boy who didn't follow the rules on the first day of school and what the consequences were. They saved the best rule for last: believing in the Pledge. The boy didn't believe, but when his class recited the Pledge, he didn't want to get into any more trouble, so he reluctantly put his tiny hand around his neck and started to speak. However, the words coming our of his mouth were pure lies. With every word he said, his hand closed tighter and tighter around his neck. He had no control of his actions. By the time the rest of the class had finished, he was dead.
Now, every day, I make sure no one is dead. And every day, I believe less and less in the words vibrating off my vocal cords. And every day, my nightmares get worse and worse. And every day, the hand that touches my neck gets colder and colder. At the moment, it feels like ice.
I fix my eyes on Nadia, sitting down in her chair, the scrape of her chair as she pulls herself closer to the desk in front of her, ready to work on her test. I feel myself zooming in on reality once more. The white paper on my own charcoal-black desk pops out at me, and the words at the top come into focus: Differences... There was more, but that was all my eyes saw. Differences. Everyone else had the same paper, but they saw it differently. Differences. No one had as deep thoughts as me about the pledge. Differences. Everyone had long sat down except for me. Differences.
I slowly sat down, cleared my mind, and silently, thoughtlessly completed my test: Differences in Humans.