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Run. Run. His smiling face no longer a beacon. Tilt chin. Leave shoelace untied. Stumble. Run. Run. He could not catch up. I would run faster. I would fly higher. Indomitable. Run. Run. The lie would not penetrate. Soft sneakers, giving way to concrete, to glass. There I lay, jagged breathing, jagged pieces of the shattered care he had given. The black wings of my raven were close, she flew higher, watching. I would run no longer.
“Do you enjoy these meetings, Kaya?”. Solid, smooth hands. This was no field worker. He lies for a living.
“Always.”. Charm was key in these situations. One would be demoted without it. The Ticker kept track of each lie one made, adding class and poise as one moved up.
“Your father, being the inventor of our glorious Ticker, I sure would hope so.”. My tight heels ached, each tip ready to slice the ground they stood upon.
“I really am late, I must be going.”. I nodded my head courteously as the Ticker slid up one more.
“Kay, do you like her? She’s for you.”. He beamed, hoping for approval, only this. Beautiful. She sat on a branch, preening. Mournful. “I thought she would remind you of how beautiful you are.”. His eyes were more melancholy than before. All he wanted was for me to be caged, so instead of freedom, he gave me detached wings.
“She is beautiful. She’s really mine?”. My voice cracked slightly, a little girl with hope. His head turned downward.
“Of course.”. He whispered. Trusting always. I would trust no longer.
I only had one way out of this prison of lies. I would break the record. Throughout the day, I told all I could. I was sick, of course Barry hadn’t cheated on Lucinda, I felt happy. They did not see the time bomb on my wrist, waiting for the record, the prize, meeting the man who had created it all.
The Ticker sped up, minutes turning into hours. I was tired of waiting. I just wanted them all to understand, see this pain that was forced upon me. After my father looked me in the eye and told me he had never lied, I was done. I was done trusting, or thinking the best of people. They all seemed to smile happily along with him. "We will treat you well! We will gain your trust! Love us! Never leave us!"
We all stood patiently, looking down at my wrist. "5,4,3,2,1!" My always joyful colleagues smiled at my triumph.
"I think we should all toast to Kaya, the daughter of the inventor of..." His voice became dreamy. “The inventor of the Greatest of Societies!”. Everyone clapped, relieved that sweet Charlie had not been demoted yet. Everyone knew his truths were running out.
“Thank you all, everyone. I truly appreciate it.”. They all smiled, cheeks looking slightly sore from too much of it. I was on my way, and would now meet the acclaimed man of our good city.
Words tried to fight their way through my locked lips. They were ready to break down the door, trying to get him to open up. “Charles Brand, we have a warrant for your arrest for over truth. Please open the door, or the my partner and I will be forced to break it down.”. He just stood there. His hands trembled, he held his sides, trying to keep his body from cracking in two.
“Dad? What are they talking about? Over truth? Dad?” I threw these questions from my mouth, as if it were the only logical thing to do.
“Kay, go outside. Don’t stop running until you find your bird and get away from this place. Look at me. You understand?”. He held his rough hands over my shoulders. “They forced me to lie, to tell you lies, to hurt you and your mother, to drive her away, to tell her you didn’t care. I had to. They would have taken you away! I had to.” His voice is raised, eyes wild. “Leave now. You’ll find me.” He pulled me tight, than shoved me away.
So I ran.
“Welcome, Lucky Winner, I am grateful to meet such a believer in our Society. Please take a seat.” He muttered. He wouldn’t even look up from his desk until he heard my voice.
“Did you miss me?” I said. His eyes slowly rolled upward.
“Kaya? Is that you?” he was quiet. I hoped it wouldn’t be too late for him to remember the truth of the life before he had torn my childhood, my trust, my family to pieces. I was only able to manage a nod. I tilted my head higher, remembering my wings were no longer clipped.
"Kaya, I know you don't want to hear this, but there are some things I need you to see. Every day that I had to lie to you and your mother was pure agony for me. They had used me for an experiment, some way to track guilt and innocence. I never once didn't love you. I always told them to stay away from you, for the experiment to not involve you and your mother, but it was not enough. They were set upon me and my family. Don’t you see? I’m innocent, Kaya, innocent.” He looked so tired, like it had been fifty years, instead of fifteen.
“I have forgiven the past. I have forgotten the pain. Now what I need is for all the others to remember theirs. You have left a whole society in the dark, defenseless unless lying and lied to. I’m here to make a deal. You eliminate the Ticker, the cruel classes, the misery, and I will set you free from lifelong guilt.” I told him, gently pushing back my seat, readying myself to stand. His eyes widened, fear filled. He saw that I was the bird now, and I had the power.
“But they...they will not understand! I will be fired, I will lose all class, I will be just as good as a begger!” He yelled, disgusted. I had seen my father for a moment, but it was only an illusion. I sprang from the chair, yanked the vile device from my wrist, and threw it on his desk.
“Then we are doing this the easy way.” I spit. I fled his office, throwing off the ankle splitting heels, barefoot. I ran to the fields. I would tell them all who their leader was. We would all fly as he is left joyless on the ground. I would show them who was innocent and who was guilty.