Matched, p.42
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       Matched, p.42

         Part #1 of Matched series by Ally Condie
 
Page 43

 

  The quickness with which Ky disappeared, with which the Markhams disappeared, with which we wil disappear, makes me cold. It is as if we never happened. And I suddenly remember a time back when I was smal , when I used to look for the air train home to Stony Borough and we had paths made of low flat stones that led to our doors.

  This happened before. This Borough keeps changing names. What other bad things lie beneath the surface of our Borough? What have we buried underneath our rocks and trees and flowers and houses? That time Xander won’t talk about, when we al took the red tablet—what happened? When other people left, where did they real y go?

  They could not write their names, but I can write mine, and I wil again, somewhere where it wil last for a long, long time. I wil find Ky, and then I wil find that place.

  Once we are on the long-distance air train, my mother and Bram both fal asleep, exhausted from the emotion and exertion of the journey.

  I find it strange, with everything else that happened, that it was my mother’s obedience which spel ed the need for our Relocation. She knew too much and she admitted it in that report. She couldn’t do otherwise.

  The ride is long and there are other travelers. No soldiers like Ky. They keep them on their own trains. But there are tired families who look much like ours, a group of Singles who laugh and talk excitedly about their jobs, and, in the last car, a few rows of young women about my age going on a work detail for a few months. I watch these girls with interest; they are girls who did not get work positions and therefore wil float around wherever they are needed for a time. Some of them seem sad and faded, disappointed. Others have faces turned to the windows with interest in their eyes. I catch myself glancing over at them more than I should. We’re supposed to keep to ourselves. And I need to concentrate on finding Ky. I have equipment now: blue tablets, the artifact cal ed a compass, knowledge of the Sisyphus River, memories of a grandfather who did not go gentle.

  My father notices me watching the girls. While my mother and Bram sleep he says softly, “I don’t remember what happened yesterday. But I know the Markhams left the Borough and I think that has hurt you. ”

  I try to change the subject. I glance over at my sleeping mother. “Why didn’t they use a red tablet on her? Then we wouldn’t have had to leave. ”

  “A red tablet?” my father asks, surprised. “Those are only for extreme circumstances. This isn’t one of them. ” Then, to my surprise, he says more.

  He speaks to me like an adult; more than that, like an equal. “I’m a sorter by nature, Cassia,” he says. “Al the information adds up to something being wrong. The way they took the artifacts. Your mother’s trips to the other Arboretums. The gap in my memory from yesterday. Something is wrong. They are losing a war and I can’t tel who it’s against—people on the inside or people on the outside. But there are signs of cracking. ” I nod. Ky told me almost the same thing.

  But my father goes on. “And I’ve noticed other things, too. I think you’re in love with Ky Markham. I think you want to find him, wherever he’s gone. ” He swal ows.

  I glance over at my mother. Her eyes are open now. She looks at me with love and understanding, and I realize: She knows what my father did.

  She knows what I want. She knows and even though she would not destroy a tissue sample or love someone who was not her Match, she stil loves us, even though we have done those things.

  My father has always broken the rules for those he loves, just as my mother has always kept them for the same reason. Perhaps that is yet another reason why they make a perfect Match. I can trust in my parents’ love. And it strikes me that that is a big thing to trust, a big thing to have had, no matter what else happens.

  “We can’t give you the life you want,” my father says, his eyes wet. He looks at my mother and she nods at him to continue. “We wish we could.

  But we can help you have a chance to decide which life you want. ”

  I close my eyes and ask the angels and Ky and Grandfather for strength. Then I open them and look straight at my father. “How?” CHAPTER 32

  My hands are in the soil; my body is tired, but I wil not let this work take away my thoughts. Because that is what the Officials here want: workers who work but do not think.

  Do not go gentle.

  So I fight. I fight the only way I know how, with thinking of Ky, even though the pain of missing him is so strong I can hardly stand it. I put the seeds into the ground and cover them with soil. Wil they grow toward the sun? Wil something go wrong so that they never push, never turn into anything, just stay here rotting in the ground? I think of him, I think of him, I think of him.

  I think of my family. Of Bram. Of my parents. I have learned something about love through al of this—about the love I have for Ky and the love I have for Xander and the love my parents and Bram and I have for one another. When we reached our new home, my parents requested that I be sent on a three months’ work detail because I showed signs of rebel ion. The Officials in our new vil age checked my data; it correlated with my parents’ statement. My father mentioned a particular work detail he had in mind: hard farming, planting an experimental winter crop in a Western Province through which the river of Sisyphus runs. He and Xander and my mother keep me updated on anything they learn about where Ky might be. I am closer to him here; I feel it.

  I think of Xander. We could have been happy, I know that, and it is perhaps the hardest thing to know. I could have held his hand, warm and strong, and we could have had what my parents have, and it would have been beautiful. It would have been beautiful.

  We wear no chains. We have nowhere to go. They wear us down with work; they don’t beat us or hurt us. They simply want to make us tired.

  And I am tired.

  When I think I might give up after al , I remember the last part of the story that Ky gave me, the part I final y read before we left our home for the last time:

  Cassia, he wrote at the top of the page, in letters that were tal and clear and unafraid, that curled and moved and turned my name into something beautiful, something more than a word. A declaration, a piece of a song, a bit of art, framed by his hands.

  There was only one Ky drawn on the napkin. Smiling. A smile in which I could see both who he had been and who he became. His hands were empty again, and open, and reaching a little. Toward me.

  Cassia.

  I know which life is my real one now, no matter what happens. It’s the one with you.

  For some reason, knowing that even one person knows my story makes things different. Maybe it’s like the poem says. Maybe this is my way of not going gentle.

  I love you.

  I had to burn that part of his story, too, but I held the heat of that I love you close, like red, like a new beginning.

  Without knowing the pieces of Ky’s story and the words of my poems I might give up. But I think of my words and of the cache of tablets and compass hidden away and my family and Xander who send me messages on the work camp portscreen that tel me they are stil looking; they are stil helping me.

  Sometimes, when I look down at the pale seeds I scatter in the black dirt, it reminds me of the night of my Banquet when I imagined that I could fly.

  The darkness behind doesn’t worry me; neither do the stars ahead. I think of how perhaps the best way to fly would be with hands ful of earth so you always remember where you came from, how hard walking could sometimes be.

  And I look at my hands, too, which move in the shape of my own inventions, my own words. It is hard to do, and I am not good at it yet. I write them in the soil where I plant and then step on them, dig holes in them, drop seeds in them to see if they wil grow. I steal a piece of black burned wood from one of the cropfires and write on a napkin. Later, at another cropfire; my hand brushes over the flames with the napkin, and the words die. Ash and nothing.

  My words never last long. I have to destroy them before anyone sees them.

  B
ut. I remember them al . For some reason, the act of writing them down makes me remember. Each word I write brings me closer to finding the right ones. And when I see Ky again, which I know wil happen, I wil whisper the words I have written in his ear, against his lips. And they wil change from ash and nothing into flesh and blood.

 
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ALLY CONDIE SERIES:

Matched