A strong minded girl has to fight her way through a society she hates.
I should have wished for a better dinner. If only I thought a wish would make life better. Although, wishing did get me the spray paint I needed for my newest project. But wishing wasn’t going to make my mom a better chef. After all, there wasn’t a Provision office in my head.
“Mom, this is disgusting. I’m not eating this.”
“Fiona, settle down and eat your dinner. You always make such a fuss over things.” She spoke in this soft tone that always sounded like she was talking down to me.
“I’m not causing a fuss. I just don’t like your cooking.” My voice was never calm or sweet, not like my mother’s.
“Schools,” she sighed “they aren’t tough enough on kids anymore. They used to beat us with rulers and the like when we showed an opinion. Sweetie, would it kill you to go with the crowd for once?”
“Yes mom, it would. And I hope it does. Then I won’t have to eat your crumby food.”
“Fine darling. Tomorrow I will wish for a chef, one of those new ones with the Bluetooth remotes.”
“That won’t solve anything mom! You still won’t know how to cook. Wishing solves nothing!”
“Oh sweetie, there you go with your crazy ideas. If you are finished your dinner then clear your dishes and complete your homework please.” I got up, threw my dishes in the sink, making a loud clanging noise and walked out of the kitchen. My mom called out to me,
“Fiona, you better watch that attitude, the Talent Scouts are already hanging around town.” I escaped to my room without a word.
Talent Scouts. They are the men in black suits who search through schools trying to find the feisty tough kids to send outside our safe city. The Outside World needs us to regenerate their population to help with the creation and maintenance of their dying world. Everyone on The Outside suffers from disease, pain, unhappiness, and worst of all they kill each other. None of that happens here. Well, there is a rare case of unhappiness. I have it.
I’ve tried to explain to Annie why going to a Provision office and wishing for material things is a bad idea. You can wish for a puppy but you can’t wish for that puppy to love you. You can wish for brushes and paint but you can’t wish for artistic talent. Annie has been conditioned so well that she believes material things make a person complete. I definitely don’t see it that way.
Mom came in to check on me that night. My homework was sitting on my desk.
“Fiona, are you sure these answers are correct?” It was a sheet asking our opinions about The Departure and about life in our city Mithril.
“I don’t care if it’s right or wrong mom. It’s my opinion.” She looked at me with big worried eyes.
“I love you sweetie. I don’t want to lose you.”
“I know mom. You and dad would be embarrassed if your daughter was shipped off to hard labour and a life of bearing child after child.”
“It’s not just that-”
“It’s that I would be erased from Provision’s system and everyone would have to forget and act like Fiona Jones never existed.”
“Sweetie can’t you just act like normal for a little while? I would lose my mind if I lost my only child.”
“Fine mom, I’ll be normal. In fact, I’ll go make a wish right now.” I got off my bed and walked right out of the house. From my open window I could hear her inside crying softly.
I debated walking down to the Provision office and wishing for a yellow can of spray paint, but changed my mind. I headed down to the school. From behind a loose brick I pulled a can of pink spray paint. I was never the creative type, but I set to work quickly and quietly.
“Hey! What are you doing?” I spun around and dropped the spray can. Standing there holding a flashlight was Steven Smith. He was the most gorgeous guy in school and a perfect model child. I went to open my mouth to explain, but Steven spoke first.
“So it’s you who has been painting the town pink.” He walked over to me, his floppy blonde hair blowing in the cool breeze.
“‘Provision – not pro, and not a vision, just another means of control.’ Nice slogan. I like it.” That’s what I had written on the wall. He shook his flashlight and raised it to the wall. A stream of paint came out. His flashlight was actually a can of yellow spray paint. Beside my slogan he drew an eye. Below the eye he wrote ‘They are always watching pro-vision’. I was thoroughly impressed.
“So what do you think?” he asked.
“I can’t believe you are a rebel. You are a perfect son and student. Everyone loves you.” I was shocked.
“If you give people what they want then they won’t cause a fuss. It makes things easier on you. You can be whoever you want to be underneath.” He had a point.
“But why would you hide who your true self? Are you afraid of The Departure? of The Outside?” I had to know if he was being real with me.
“Fiona, I’m not afraid of anything.”
“Then let’s do something bad.” For the rest of the night we smashed windows and spray painted anything we could get our hands on. It was going to take Provision awhile to clean up the school yard playground!
When Steven and I finished destroying we sat on his porch and talked. We discussed The Outside and The Departure. We talked about how all of Mithril just wants more and more, and they never give anything back. There is no giving back. But most of all, we talked about being materialistic.
“I’d de glad to be chosen for The Departure. I’m more miserable here than anything. Here, everything is just empty.” His voice was so sad. I wanted desperately to give him a reason to smile.
“Empty. It’s worse than empty. It’s cold. It’s lonely. There is no love, no accomplishment, and no pride from completing a tough task. No nothing. Just greed and forced happiness.” I believed it to.
“Maybe leaving would be better. I don’t think there is love in The Outside World, but I do believe that there is love here.” He turned to me as I started to argue back. “Here, let me show you.” Steven placed his hand lightly on my face and pressed his soft lips to mine. It was beautiful. I could have stayed like that forever. His lips were so comforting and warm while the breeze was gentle and cool. The kiss only lasted a few seconds, but I wished those seconds would drag on. Provision could never understand that kind of wish.
When he pulled away from me I stared at his ice blue eyes. Not only was he beautiful and fiery but he was soft and sexy. I longed for more.
“We had better go Fiona. It’s a school day tomorrow.” Steven walked me home in the darkness, his hand in mine. With a peck on the cheek at my front door he was off into the night.
I got in without my mother waking up, and my father worked nights at the Provision office for those late night wishes. I fell asleep thinking about Steven and how maybe, just maybe, love exists.
The day that followed was hell. Steven refused to look at me or acknowledge my presence. Teachers scowled at me through their computer screens. Even Annie, my best friend, hardly associated with me. It’s as if they all know something I didn’t. Their behaviour only proved my theory of a cold and empty world. I was starting to rethink Steven’s ideas of love.
I knew my mom would be out of the house for a few days, I also knew she had wished for wine a few days ago when she was entertaining guests. It was the perfect plan. I rang Steven on his phone at lunch,
“Steven, I’m cutting class for the rest of the day. If you ever decide I am worth you time come meet me at my house. I’ll be here all day.”
“Fiona, no wait-” I hung up on him before he could finish his sentence. I had already finished half a bottle of wine.
Feeling slightly tipsy I walked down to one of the few automated wish stations. I ordered everything. I needed everything. Anything to fill the hole Steven left in me: a car, a cat, twelve chocolate bars, and a lot of pink spray paint. I eventually wandered home again and sitting on the doorstep was Steven.
“Well, well, well. If it isn’t lover boy! Did you get lost on the way to your own mansion? Yours is the one around the block!” I was not thinking clearly.
“Fiona, don’t. I have some bad news.”
“No, Steven. I have some bad news for you! Love doesn’t exist! Only lust and wanting and greed. No love.” I spit at his feet.
“Fiona, are you drunk?”
“Come inside with me.” I followed him inside and walked straight over to the coolers. I held one out to Steven and he rejected it. I happily drank my own. The doorbell rang. Steven opened it and there was a basket with a kitten in it, and a box full of booze, chocolate, and spray paint.
“What happened Fiona? Did you order all these things?”
“I didn’t order the wine. That must have been my mom’s. The wish just got delayed. Oh well. May as well drink that too.” I reached for a pink bottle of Chardonnay.
“Why did you wish for all these things? Especially the cat.”
“You stopped loving me! So these things will love me!” I yelled.
“These things are the same ideals we were rebelling against last night. You can’t just throw that away,” he yelled back. The in a softer voice, “I never stopped loving you.”
“Then what is the matter Steven? Why wouldn’t you talk to me all day, or even look at me?”
“Fiona, I have some bad news.”
“Then spill!” The alcohol was really getting to me now. I was getting overly frustrated.
“You and I have been chosen for The Departure. The Talent Scouts followed me home last night. They told my dad and they are waiting for your mom to come home so they can tell her. I’m sorry.” Fear shot through me like a hot arrow.
“Steven, no matter what happens, I love you. Now drink up.”
We spent that afternoon drinking everything my mom had and tormenting the cat. We laughed and kissed, kissed and laughed. The kissing led to touching. Then touching led to more. More. I wanted more.
By two o’clock that afternoon we had drunken ourselves stupid. In that stupor we drove all the way to school. It took both of us to figure out how to run my dad’s Mercedes. We got there and stumbled into our English class during silent reading.
“Steven! Take your hand of Fiona’s behind!” The teacher was so mad! It was so funny.
“Fiona! Stop singing! This is not a karaoke club!” Eventually she asked us if we were drunk. We looked at each other, giggled, then yelled,
“Oh hell yes!” Seconds later the teacher called the office and three Talent Scouts rushed up, grabbed us by the shoulders, and dragged us out of there. I remember a short car ride then my memory blacks out. Steven doesn’t remember much more. We both had passed out.
We woke up in a cold cement room with bars across the front and cement benches running length wise down the room. The eight other kids there explained that we were in a holding cell. We were waiting for a few more kids, and then in exactly one week’s time we were being shipped off to The Outside for a life of forced labour and child rearing.
The men in our cell were to be put to work as slave labourers, working for nothing, while the women were to be used for pregnancy and population increase. Only then did I realize that there were five girls and five boys. We were taken in partners.
I knew the long road ahead would be tiresome, gruelling, and hard, but at least I got to start from nothing, and build up everything I wanted with the man I wanted. Even though our future looked bleak at least when we accomplished something it would be our accomplishment. From that accomplishment we earned the right to feel good; instead of just wishing we felt good.