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To Be Cured

Until lunch, on May 5th, 2103, Katherine Wells’ day had been going pretty well. The Distributors came and went without her papa losing his control and frowning at them and without them making her mama cry by taking a portion of her family’s savings. Only Mr. Warrington down the street had been arrested by the Distributors. The Warrington children didn’t leave for school that day.

Despite the melancholy spirit of the whole matter, Mr. Barrington’s abduction made for a good subject of conversation on the way to school. “What do you suppose happens in those camps?” Katherine whispered to the other children, glancing around to see whether any Distributors were in hearing range. Adelheid Warner, Katherine’s best-friend-by-circumstance, said nothing, but moved closer to her with a shiver.

“Terrible things,” Tammy answered, staring at her shoes. Last year, her older brother had been taken when he refused to give away half his earnings. They called him selfish and greedy, two words not to be spoken in the oh so very advanced society of the modern day.

Lester, a short, sturdy boy who would someday become a bull-sized human being, spoke over Tammy’s soft words with great enthusiasm. “Terrible things, what lies! Only those too greedy and selfish to bear are put away and good riddance to them!” Obviously, he’d forgotten about Tammy’s predicament. “Someday, I’ll be a Distributor, working for the greater goodness!” To his credit, Lester did seem thoroughly confused when everyone huffed and sped up to get away from his thoughtless words.

When Dominic Win spoke, all the other whispered conversations came to a standstill. Everything Dominic ever said was important and everything he ever said was true. “It is neither terrible nor fair. They take those who speak against the law’s ways and put them to work for free for a set amount of time, depending on the severity of the crime. People aren’t mistreated physically, but legally- according to our nationss history- yes.”

The children were silent for the rest of the way to school, but at the last corner, Katherine spoke once again. “Perhaps the law should be changed.”

Abruptly, all of her companions stopped in their tracks and turned to stare at her. “Are you absolutely, positively crazy?” Adelheid exclaimed, her eyes wide in disbelief.

“Yeah, Katherine,” Lester breathed. “You know what happened when we tried to go back to the old ways.”

Tammy let out a pent up breath and said, “People were dying of starvation, of all things! Just because some had more money than others!”

“Okay, okay!” Katherine cried, putting her hands up in surrender.

And although that may not seem like a very exultantly wonderful morning, it was enough to verge on content. It was lunch when things began to go downhill. The teacher walked down the rows of desks, checking for everyone’s lunch money.

Wilbur Wilson had forgotten his at home. Either that or he spent it at the convenience store on candy. “Everyone, please take a cent from your twenty-five cents so that Wilbur may have twenty-five cents, too,” she ordered. It was a rule that every student must have the required twenty-three to twenty-five cents of lunch money each day. It was only fair.

Katherine raised her hand, immediately catching the mistake her teacher made as her classmates picked a penny from their piles. “Yes, Miss Wells?” the teacher said. Every head turned to look at Katherine and Katherine had a sense of deja vu from that morning. Maybe she should learn to keep her mouth shut more often.

“Um... well, Miss Devanchee, it isn’t fair.” From the corner of her eye, Katherine saw Adelheid staring at the ceiling, hoping against hope that Katherine wouldn’t say what she surely was going to say.

“What isn’t fair, Katherine?” Mrs. Devanchee asked with fake concern.

“All of us would have twenty-four cents while Wilbur would have twenty-five.”

This revelation, however, only served to make the lovely Miss Devanchee increasingly annoyed. “Well, of course, Katherine. The rule is twenty-three to twenty-five cents. If everyone in our class of twenty-five gives Wilbur a cent, you will all be in the correct range.”

“But, Miss Devanchee, he brought no money and I brought my money. Why should he end up having more money than me?”

“Because it’s fair, Katherine. Now, be silent. I should send you off to the principal’s office for excess greediness, but out of the kindness in my heart, I’ll give you a second chance.”

Katherine- all the students- knew that Miss Devanchee was always right. If it came down to Miss Devanchee and Dominic Win, it would have to be Miss Devanchee. At least in the eyes of the all-devoting students. So Katherine sat quietly, handing over her penny to Wilbur and even an extra one when Miss Devanchee told Katherine she should donate one to the government to showcase her selflessness.

At the end of the day, Katherine found herself walking alone with Dominic along the path leading to their homes. The others were a bit weary of the two of them after the principal’s weekly speech on the importance of equal wealth and had decided to keep their distance from possible greed. “Sometimes I wonder what fair really means. I thought it should be equality in things people cannot help; cannot change. Skin color, race, stuff like that.” And although she said nothing, Katherine agreed with him. The government reminded her of the viewers at a play- the observers of a baseball game. They were the ones with unlimited hot dogs and sodas.

The moment she stepped foot in her home, Katherine sensed that something was wrong. Her parents were not in the kitchen, waiting for her to arrive, as they usually were. She crept through the rooms and finally found them in the cramped living room. Her papa’s face was strained as he held her mama tightly in his arms.

“Mama, Papa? What is the matter?”

“They won’t let me quit,” Papa said simply, his face turning even stonier.

“What do you mean, Papa?” Katherine asked, swinging her backpack onto the ground. “You mean your job? I thought you liked your job? You liked building homes?”

“I do, Kathers. But I can’t... they work us too hard for the money we end up with after we give to the needy. Soon, we will be as much the needy as the needy are. But, oh, how I detest this. Those Wilsons are a no good family of bums. They don’t have to go to work because they are of the ‘poor’. I’m working harder than a mule so they won’t have to. And they won’t ever have to if I keep working like a mule.”

“But...”

“Katherine, there is no but. The company declared me greedy for trying to quit and guilty of leaving them short-handed. It was either I sign it or I go to the camp.”

“Sign what, Papa? Sign what?” From her papa’s arms, her mother let out a choking sound.

“The contract. I’ll still be earning money, Kathers, so it won’t make us greedy for quitting in our best interests. It’s only five years.”

“What?”

“Katherine,” her mama said, pulling away from her papa, sniveling. “Your papa is going to go work where the government is by building homes there for the needy. Only a third of his profits will come to us because of his potential crime. It’s only f-five years.” With that, her mama buried her head back into Papa’s chest.

In the middle of the room, Katherine stood, frozen to the spot, staring out the window. Before her eyes an almost melodramatic scene played out across the street. The Walton’s eldest girl, Nettie was being thrown over a Distributor’s shoulder. She was kicking and hitting and biting, but he didn’t let go of her. Nettie’s older brother, Ethan, ducked under his father’s arms, which were stretched out, trying to stop Nick from doing what he did anyway. He ran at the Distributor, only to have another one spring from the bushes and stick a needle in his arm. Seconds later, the Distributors’ van was driving away, the two Walton children in the back.

A moment later, another van arrived. A knock fell on the Wells’ front door. Mr. Wells got up from his seat. Katherine never saw him again.

Two Weeks Later

“Everybody, Wilbur has forgotten his lunch money again.”

Katherine pulled out her money and handed it over with a smile. It wouldn’t do to be greedy like her father, Mr. Warrington, and the Walton children. Absent-mindedly, she rubbed at the bruise on her arm that had appeared from the new vaccination against the disease of greediness. Sighing, content at last, Katherine thought of how glad she was to finally be cured.



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ShannonLil99This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Sept. 10, 2012 at 10:50 am:
Its really good, I enjoyed reading it x
 
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