Long lost love

April 22, 2018

I walk into the library, wondering what I came here to do. The nodes by my ears whisper “You came to find a book on history, though I don’t know why you wouldn’t just ask me.” This was typical Ethan, my headset, which read my thoughts and responded. He was a mini-computer.
I walk up and down the aisles, trying to find my book. I hear a voice behind me. “Would you like any help?” I turn around, preparing myself to answer the library bot. But it isn’t a bot who meets me. Instead, I see Thomas Weischaar in front of me. His bright blue eyes match mine as though they were cut from the same diamonds. His skin is gloriously pale and clear, unlike mine, with freckles everywhere. His hair is auburn, and in his presence I feel deflated with my own ragged red hair and my thin ballerina figure. He is broad enough that even if my arms were two times their regular size, I still could not wrap them all of the way around him. But I desperately want to embrace him. Throughout my life, Thomas has always been there, at my fingertips, but just out of reach. When the dating list was formulated at the beginning of sixth grade, the endless cycle of possible couples who once would have picked each other by attraction, I was hoping that I would be paired with him. To this day, I have never been paired with him. I tear open my date list each week, hoping beyond hope that his name will be the one I see, but even now, in sophomore year, this is the closest I have ever been to him. I start to say that no help from him will be necessary, but Ethan clouds my brain and makes me stutter until I am forced to say, by the computer in my head, “I would love some help, but could I help you with anything first? I wouldn’t want to trouble you.
Thomas smiles down at me. “The only thing I need help with is getting away from that awful girl that I’ve been stuck with all week. Every time I think I’m finally alone, she reappears. So I will follow you, since you seem to be so good at hiding.” This is a good step. The only one I’ve had. Love is forbidden in our country, except from a child to their parents. Most people have it surgically removed from their child’s brain, but some parents who cannot bear to watch that or come from a long line of romantics refuse. I am one of the latter group. And so, I have been, from afar, in love with a boy that I cannot have until my turn, if I get one, comes. After standing there in awe for almost a minute, I remember what has just happened. “I’m sorry you have clinging issues with Ava.” I mentally cursed myself for giving away that I have been watching his list on the board. Any act of love or over consideration for someone, if reported, can get you arrested. It makes the world too hard to organize. We walk to the history section and we both crouch down to get the book at the same time. We collide. “I-I-I’m so s-sorry.” I stutter, blushing. My programming in Ethan is supposed to keep me from doing either of these things. “Oh, that’s fine. You are so pretty that I thought I had touched a flower.” I start to stutter again, when Ava comes around the corner. “Tommy!” she cries as she launches herself at him. “What are you doing with Elsie?” My name is Elise, I correct mentally.
Ava is one of the plastics. And no, this isn’t because she is exactly what you expect, but because she has had more plastic surgeries than I have had grades below 95%. Ava chatters away at how amazing “Tommy” is. Finally, she turns back to me. “What are you still doing here? I thought I had made it clear that me and Tommy are applying for a second week together and I want you to never be within two feet of him again. Got that?” I almost nod, but a little voice in my head tells me “Really? She has known him for exactly a week, and he clearly hates her. Don’t you think you should try to save him?” Thomas pleads to me with his eyes. I can’t let this go on, even if what I am about to do is illegal. I walk up to Thomas, whisper in his ear “I’m sorry,” and hug him to me. Touching in any form other than accidental is illegal between opposite genders who are not on the date list together. Ava starts yelling at me. “You get off of him right now. Do you want me to call the bots? He loves me, and only me.” I can’t believe her. She barely know him and she thinks that he loves her. I turn my head, loosening my grip on Thomas. I prepare myself for a very nasty comeback, but then something that I never would have expected happens. Thomas beats me to it. “Ava, I have hated you since I first met you. I very nearly appealed to get another date. But I knew if I did that, they would test me. And my results would show that I was in love. With someone who had never even been on my list. Elise, I have loved you since I was two years old.” At this point, Ava’s jaw is nearly hitting the ground, and her cheeks are some shade of burgundy. I am beaming. My headset is cheering into my ear, “It worked! My first test subjects! I am Love, the forgotten voice of the world. I have rescued you, so now I must rescue the other two billion people on the planet. Thank you, Elise. Now I will do you one last favor, by letting Thomas do what his life dream is. Goodbye.” And with that, the regular Ethan, which I had not even noticed was missing, returned. And as I grab another triumphant look at Ava, Thomas pulls me in for a kiss.

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