Matched, p.31
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       Matched, p.31

         Part #1 of Matched series by Ally Condie
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  That was why I knew before anyone else that Bram would never be a sorter. But I stil invented levels and records of achievement and spent almost al my free time during those months coming up with games I thought he would like. And even when he figured it out, he wasn’t mad. We’d had too much fun, and after al , I hadn’t lied. I had known a way to play games on the scribe.

  “That was the day,” Ky says now, and stops.

  “What?”

  “The day I knew about you. ”

  “Why?” I say, feeling hurt somehow. “Because you could see I fol owed the rules? That I made my brother fol ow them, too?”

  “No,” he says, as if it should be obvious. “Because I saw the way you cared about your brother and because I saw that you were smart enough to help him. ” Then he smiles at me. “I already knew what you looked like, but that day was when I first knew about you. ”

  “Oh,” I say.

  “What about me?” he asks.

  “What do you mean?”

  “When did you first see me?”

  For some reason I can’t tel him. I can’t tel him that it was his face on the screen the morning after my Match Banquet—the mistake—that made me first begin to think of him this way. I can’t tel him that I didn’t see him until they told me to look.

  “On the top of the first hil ,” I say instead. And I wish that I did not have to tel him this lie, when he knows more of my truth than anyone else in the world.

  Later that night I realize that Ky did not give me any more of his story and I did not ask. Perhaps it is because now I live in his story. Now I am a part of his, and he of mine, and the part we write together sometimes feels like the only part that matters.

  But stil , the question haunts me: What happened when the Officials took him away and the sun was red and low in the sky?

  CHAPTER 25

  Our time together feels like a storm, like wild wind and rain, like something too big to handle but too powerful to escape. It blows around me and tangles my hair, leaves water on my face, makes me know that I am alive, alive, alive. There are moments of calm and pause as there are in every storm, and moments when our words fork lightning, at least for each other.

  We hurry up the Hil together, touching hands, touching trees. Talking. Ky has things to tel me and I have things to tel him and there is not enough time, not enough time, never enough time.

  “There are people who cal themselves Archivists,” Ky says. “Back when the Hundred Committee made their selections, the Archivists knew the works that didn’t get selected would become a commodity. So they saved some of them. The Archivists have il egal ports, ones they’ve built themselves, for storing things. They saved the Thomas poem I brought you. ”

  “I had no idea,” I say, touched. I never thought that someone might think far enough ahead to save some of the poems. Did Grandfather know this? It doesn’t seem like he did. He never gave them his poems to save.

  Ky puts his hand on my arm. “Cassia. The Archivists aren’t altruistic. They saw a commodity and they did what they could to preserve it. Anyone can have it who’s wil ing to pay, but their prices are high. ” He stops as though he’s revealed too much—that this poem cost him something.

  “What did you trade with them?” I ask, suddenly afraid. As far as I know, Ky has two things of value: his artifact and the words of the Do not go gentle poem. I don’t want him to give up the artifact, his last tie to his family. And for some reason, the thought of our poem being traded repulses me. Selfishly, I don’t want just anyone to have it. I realize that I’m not much better than the Officials in this regard.

  “Something,” he says, and his eyes are amused. “Don’t worry about the price. ”

  “Your artifact—”

  “Don’t worry. I didn’t trade that. I didn’t trade our poem, either. But Cassia, if you ever need to, they don’t know about the poem. I asked how many Dylan Thomas writings they had and they didn’t have much. The birthday poem, and a story. That was al . ”

  “If I ever need to what?”

  “Trade,” he says careful y. “Trade for something else. The Archivists have information, connections. You could tel them one of the poems your grandfather gave you. ” He frowns. “Although proving authenticity might be a problem, since you don’t have the original paper . . . stil , I’m sure they would be worth something. ”

  “I’d be too afraid to trade with people like that,” I say, and then I wish I hadn’t. I don’t want Ky to think I get scared easily.

  “They’re not completely evil,” he says. “I’m trying to get you to see that they’re no better or worse than anyone else. No better or worse than the Officials. You have to be careful with the Archivists the same way you have to be careful with everyone else. ”

  “Where would I find them?” I ask him, frightened by his need to let me know this. What does he think is going to happen? Why does he think I might need to know how to sel our poem?

  “The Museum,” he tel s me. “Go to the basement and stand in front of the exhibit about the Glorious History of Oria Province. No one ever goes there. If you stay long enough, someone wil ask you if you want them to tel you more about the history. You say yes. They’l know you want contact with an Archivist. ”

  “How do you know this?” I ask him, surprised again at al the ways he knows how to survive.

  He shakes his head. “It’s better if I don’t tel you. ”

  “What if someone goes there who real y does want to know more about the history?” Ky laughs. “No one ever does, Cassia. No one here wants to know anything about the past. ” We hurry on, hands stil touching through the branches. I hear Ky humming a piece of one of the Hundred Songs, the one we heard together. “I love that one,” I say, and he nods. “The woman who sings it has such a beautiful voice. ”

  “If only it were real,” he says.

  “What do you mean?” I ask him.

  He looks at me, surprised. “Her voice. She’s not real. It’s generated. The perfect voice. Like al of the singers, in al of the songs. Didn’t you know that?”

  I shake my head, disbelieving. “That can’t be right. When she’s singing, I can hear her breathe. ”

  “That’s part of it,” Ky says, his eyes distant, remembering something. “They know that we like to feel that things are authentic. We like to hear them breathe. ”

  “How do you know?”

  “I’ve heard real people singing,” he says.

  “So have I, at school. And my father sang to me. ”

  “No,” he says. “I mean, singing out, as loud as you can. Whenever you felt like it. I’ve heard people sing like that, but not here. And even the most beautiful voice in the world didn’t sound anywhere near as perfect as that voice in the music hal . ” For a split second, I imagine him at home in that landscape he has drawn for me, listening to others sing. Ky glances up at the sun blinking through the trees above us. He’s gauging the time. He trusts the sun more than his watch. I’ve noticed this. As he stands there, shielding his eyes with one hand, another line from the Thomas poem comes to mind

  Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight

  I would like to hear Ky sing.

  Ky reaches into his pocket, pul s out my birthday poem. “Do you know it wel enough yet?” I know what he’s saying. It’s time to destroy the poem. It’s dangerous to keep it for too long.

  “Yes,” I say. “But let me look at it one more time. ” I read it over and look back up at Ky. “It’s not as sad to destroy this one,” I say, tel ing him and reminding myself. “Other people know it. It stil exists somewhere else. ”

  He nods at me.

  “Do you want me to take it home and incinerate it?” I ask.

  “I thought we could leave it here,” he says. “Bury it, in the ground. ”

  I’m reminded of planting with Xander. But this poem has nothing tied to it; it’s severed, neat and clean, from where it came. We know the n
ame of the author. We don’t know anything about him, don’t know what he wanted the poem to mean, what he thought when he formed the words, how he wrote it. That long ago, were there scribes? I can’t remember from the Hundred History Lessons. Or did he write it as Ky writes, with his hands? Did the poet know how lucky he was, to have such beautiful words and a place to put them and keep them?

  Ky reaches for the poem.

  “Wait,” I say. “Let’s not bury al of it. ” I hold out my hand for the paper and he gives it to me, smoothing it flat over my palm. There’s not much to the poem; it’s smal , one verse. It wil be easily buried. I tear careful y along the line that talks about the birds: Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name

  I tear it smal er, smal er, until the pieces are tiny and light. Then I toss them into the breeze, to let them fly for a moment. They are so smal that I don’t see where most of them settle, but one lands soft on a branch near me. Perhaps a real bird wil use it for a nest, wil tuck it away from everyone else, as I have the other Thomas poem.

  We do know about the author, I realize as Ky and I bury the rest of the paper. We know him through his words.

  And someday I wil have to share the poems. I know it. And someday I wil have to tel Xander what is happening here on the Hil .

  But not yet. I burned poetry before to be safe. I can’t do it now. I hold tight to the poetry of our moments together, protecting them, protecting us. Al of us.

  “Tel me about your Match Banquet,” Ky says another time.

  He wants me to tel him about Xander?

  “Not about Xander,” he says, reading my mind and smiling that smile I love. Even now, when he smiles more often, I am stil greedy for it.

  Sometimes, I reach out and touch his lips with my hand when he does it. I do that now, feel them move as he says, “About you. ”

  “I was nervous, excited . . . ” I stop.

  “What did you think about?”

  I wish I could tel him that I thought about him, but I lied to him once and I won’t do it again. And besides, I wasn’t thinking about Xander either.

  “I thought about angels,” I say.

  “Angels?”

  “You know. The ones in the old stories. How they can fly to heaven. ”

  “Do you think anyone believes in them anymore?” he asks.

  “I don’t know. No. Do you?”

  “I believe in you,” he says, his voice hushed and almost reverent. “That’s more faith than I ever thought I’d have. ” We move quickly through the trees. I feel more than see that we must be nearing the top of the Hil . Eventual y, our work here wil be done and this time wil be over. It doesn’t take long anymore to traverse the first part of the Hil ; everything is tamped down and wel marked and we know where we are going, at least initial y. But there is stil unexplored territory left. There are stil things to discover. For that I am grateful. I’m so grateful that I wish I did believe in angels so that I could express my gratitude to someone or something.

 
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