Day 13 Sci-Fi genre entry to the Baker's Dozen contest.
| Marlene read the post again. She knew it was coming, but it still stole her breath and left her gasping and trying to make sense of this government policy. A policy that was so entrenched in their society that no one could even remember why it had been instated.
All thirteen year olds are, required by law, to spend their thirteenth year off-planet. They will report to Zeenbrea Academy Headquarters within the week of their thirteenth birthday. They are to be ready, with all they will need to spend their full year away at their designated boarding school. THIS IS NOT VOLUNTARY. FAILURE TO ARRIVE WITHIN THE PRESCRIBED TIME WILL RESULT IN SEVERE FINES AND PENALITIES.
Marlene shook her head as tears sprang to her eyes. She would not let Anthony see her like this. He already thought her an overprotective mother. But she could not help it. He would be her first to go.
Not only that, but the notice also gave way to her own memories. Memories she tried so hard to repress. She hoped it would be different for a boy and she was glad they had had no girls.
She remembered being ripped away from her mother whose face shimmered with falling tears. She remembered her father looking on with gloom written within the fine lines of his face.
Since they did not have enough money to pay for a more prestigious boarding school, Marlene had been shipped off for her year off-planet to the mining colony of Pentzic on the outer reaches of Pluto. She had been required to work her weekends to repay the government for her transportation, boarding and schooling. The work was hard and brutal. Weekends were also stretched to include Friday night. She worked from four o’clock Friday evening until Sunday evening at ten. They were given breaks; two mere six hour sleeps and meals on their feet. By the time she returned to school Sunday night she was exhausted.
She shivered at the memory and was ever grateful she and Stan were able to pay for Anthony to go to a far better school. Not the best, but better than many. Scrimping and saving had made life hard, but they were both used it. They had both gone to Pentzic. They had both survived Pentzic.
Her son would not have to suffer the indecencies of such a place. Yes, he would be gone a year and it would be hard, but he would not be forced to work below the dark surface of a decrepit, cold place. He would not fear for his life or be abused by the mine’s odd assortment of workers. Instead he would be schooled and educated with his peers in the warmth of Saturn. For that she gave thanks.
Word Count = 464