Crossed, p.13
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       Crossed, p.13

         Part #2 of Matched series by Ally Condie
 
Page 14

 

  Indie throws first. “She’d heard about a rebellion on an island off the coast. She wanted to find it and come back for the family. ”

  “I’ve heard of a rebellion, too,” I say, unable to control my excitement. “The one I’ve heard of is called the Rising. ”

  “That’s the same one,” Indie says, sounding eager. “It’s everywhere, someone told her. This Carving is exactly the kind of place it might be. ”

  “I think that too,” I say. In my mind, I see a piece of translucent paper laid over one of the Society’s maps, its markings showing places the Society doesn’t know about or doesn’t want us to see.

  “Do you believe in a leader called the Pilot?” I ask.

  “Yes,” Indie says, excited. And then, to my surprise, she recites something in a gentle voice very unlike her usual brusque tone:“Every day the sun rolls by

  Across the sky and through night’s door

  Every night the stars light high

  Above the earth and shine once more

  Any day her boat might fly

  Across the waves and to the shore. ”

  “Did you write that?” I ask, a sudden flash of jealousy cutting into me. “I know it’s not one of the Hundred Poems. ”

  “I didn’t write it. And it’s not a poem,” Indie says with certainty.

  “It sounds like one,” I say.

  “No. ”

  “Then what is it?” I ask. I’m learning quickly that it’s useless to argue with Indie.

  “Something my mother used to say every night before I went to sleep,” Indie tells me. “When I was old enough to ask about it, she told me that the Pilot is the one who will lead the Rising. My mother thought it would be a woman who comes across the water. ”

  “Oh,” I say, surprised. I always thought of the Pilot as someone from the sky. But Indie might be right. I remember again the sound of the Tennyson poem. There was water in it.

  Indie’s thinking the same thing. “That poem you said when we were running,” she begins. “I hadn’t heard it before, but it proves that the Pilot could come from the water. A bar is a ridge of sand in a shallow place in the water. And a Pilot is someone who steers the ships safely in and out of the harbor. ”

  “I don’t know much about the Pilot,” I say, which is true, but I do have my own hopes about the leader of the rebellion and they don’t quite align with Indie’s version. Still, the idea is the same, and the story the Archivist gave me says that the Pilot changes over and over. Indie and I could both be right. “But I don’t think it matters. It could be either a man or a woman, coming from the sky or the water. Don’t you think?”

  “Yes,” Indie says, sounding triumphant. “I knew it. You aren’t only looking for a boy. You’re looking for something else, too. ”

  I look up into the narrow river of sky above with its clear sharp stars. Is that true? I’ve come a long way from the Borough, I think, with a sudden feel of elation and surprise, and it’s not far enough yet.

  “We could climb out,” Indie says softly. “Go across the top. We could try going down into another canyon. Maybe we’ll find him there, or the Rising. ” She flicks on her flashlight and shines it up the side of the canyon. “I know how to climb. You learn it in Sonoma. My Province. We can find a good place tomorrow, somewhere the walls aren’t so high and sheer. ”

  “I haven’t climbed like that before,” I say. “Do you think I could do it?”

  “If you’re careful and don’t look down,” Indie says.

  The silence stretches on as I look up and realize that even this limited bit of sky holds more stars than I was ever able to catch sight of in the Borough. For some reason, this gives me hope that there is much else I don’t see. I hope for my parents and Bram, for Xander, for Ky. “Let’s try,” I say.

  “We’ll find a place early,” Indie says. “Before it’s very light. I don’t want to cross in broad daylight. ”

  “I don’t either,” I say, and in the sand I write a beginning line and for the first time, a second line too:

  I climb into the dark for you

  Are you waiting in the stars for me?

  Chapter 13

  KY

  The sides of the canyon are black and orange. Like a fire caught burning and turned to rock. “It’s so deep,” Eli says, looking up in wonder. In this spot the walls rise higher than any building I’ve ever seen, higher than the Hill. “It’s like someone huge made cuts in the earth and dropped us inside. ”

  “I know,” I say. In the Carving, you see rivers and caves and stones that you’d never see from above. It’s as though suddenly you are down close looking at the workings of your own body, watching your own blood run and listening to the sound of your heart beating it through.

  “It’s nothing like this in Central,” Eli says.

  “You’re from Central?” Vick and I ask at the same time.

  “I grew up there,” Eli tells us. “I’ve never lived anywhere else. ”

  “It must seem lonely to you out here,” I say, remembering how when I was Eli’s age I moved to Oria and felt a different kind of loneliness—the loneliness of what seemed like too many people.

  “How did the Anomalies get stuck in here, anyway?” Eli asks.

  “The original Anomalies chose to be Anomalies, back when the Society came to be,” I tell Eli. I remember something else, too. “And the ones who live in the Carving don’t call themselves Anomalies. They prefer to be known as the farmers. ”

  “But how could they choose?” Eli asks, fascinated.

  “Before the Society took control, there were people who saw it coming and didn’t want any part of it. They started storing things inside the Carving. ” I point at some of the curves and bends in the sandstone walls. “There are caves hidden everywhere in here. The farmers had enough food to see them through until some of the seeds they brought could be planted and harvested. They called their settlement a township, because they didn’t want to use the Society’s words for that, either. ”

  “But didn’t the Society track them down?”

  “Eventually. But the farmers had the advantage because they came in first. They could cut down anyone who tried to follow. And the Society thought the farmers would all die off sooner or later. It’s not an easy place to live. ” Part of my coat has come unsealed and I stop at a pinyon for more sap. “They also served another purpose for the Society. Many of the people in the Outer Provinces were too afraid to try to escape to the Carving because the Society started spreading rumors about how savage the farmers are. ”

  “You think they’ll really try to kill us?” Eli asks, sounding worried.

  “They used to be merciless to any one Society,” I say. “But we’re not Society anymore. We’re Aberrations. They didn’t kill Aberrations or other Anomalies outright unless attacked. ”

  “How will they know what we are?” Eli asks.

  “Look at us,” I say. “We don’t look like Citizens or Officials. ” The three of us are young and dirty and disheveled, clearly on the run.

  “So why didn’t your father bring your family in here to live?” Vick asks.

  “The Society’s right about some things,” I say. “You die free out here but you die faster. The farmers don’t have the medicine or technology in the canyons that the Society has outside. My mother didn’t want that for me and my father respected it. ”

  Vick nods. “So we’re going to find these people and ask them to help us. Since they helped your father. ”

  “Yes,” I say. “And I’m hoping to trade with them. They have maps and old books. At least, they did before. ”

  “And what do you have to trade?” Vick asks sharply.

  “The same things that you and Eli have,” I say. “Information about the Society. We’ve lived on the inside. It’s been a while since there have been any real villages in the Outer Provinces, which means the people in the canyon might not have been able to trade or talk with
anyone for a long time. ”

  “So, if they do want to trade with us,” Eli asks, sounding unconvinced, “what are we going to do with all those papers and old books once we get them?”

  “You can do whatever you want,” I say. “You don’t even have to trade for them. Get something else. I don’t care. But I’m going to get a map and try to reach one of the Border Provinces. ”

  “Wait,” Eli says. “You want to go back into the Society? Why?”

  “I wouldn’t go back,” I say. “I’d go a different way than the one we came. And I’d only go back far enough to send a message to her. So she’ll know where I am. ”

  “How can you do that?” Eli asks. “Even if you did make it to the Border Provinces, the Society watches the ports. They’d see it if you sent anything to her. ”

  “That’s why I want the papers from the township,” I say. “I’ll trade them with an Archivist. They have ways to send messages that don’t involve the ports. But it’s expensive. ”

  “An Archivist?” Eli asks, puzzled.

  “They’re people who trade on the black market,” I say. “They’ve been around since before the Society. My father used to trade with them, too. ”

  “So this is your plan,” Vick says. “There’s nothing more to it than what you’ve told us. ”

  “Not right now,” I say.

  “Do you think it will work?” Eli asks.

  “I don’t know,” I say. Above us a bird starts to sing: a canyon wren. The notes are haunting and distinct. They descend like a waterfall down the rock canyon walls. I can identify the call because my father used to mimic it for me. He told me it was the sound of the Carving.

  He loved it here.

  When my father told stories, he blurred the line between truth and tale. “They’re all true on some level,” he’d say when my mother teased him about it.

  “But the township in the canyon is real,” I’d always ask, to make sure. “The stories you tell about that are true. ”

  “Yes,” he’d say. “I’ll take you there someday. You’ll see. ”

  So when it appears before us around the next bend in the canyon, I stop short in disbelief. There it is, exactly as he said, a settlement in a wider part of the gorge.

  A feeling of unreality settles over me like the light of late afternoon that spills over the canyon walls. The township looks almost exactly the way I remember my father describing his first visit:

  The sun came down and made it all golden: bridge, buildings, people, even me. I couldn’t believe the place was real, though I’d heard about it for years. Later when the farmers there taught me to write, I had that same feeling. Like the sun was always at my back.

  The winter sunlight sets an orange-gold glow on the buildings and bridge in front of us.

 
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Matched