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Perfectless

The city itself was symmetrical in every way. The houses were all three stories, with white paint on the outside. Gracing the front of each house was a grey door and two windows, with green shutters. Each sidewalk was newly paved, and had no cracks in the tan cement. The short heels of shoes would clack musically on the sidewalks, as snippets of conversation would - though the weather might change - paint a picture of the perfect world around them.

All of the ladies wore long dresses, the bottoms of which were lined with lace, trailing just a millimeter above the ground. The boys wore suits, along with the men. There were no poor people, nor any very rich people. The only people that might have been rich were the Leaders, who stayed anonymous, yet who made the rules for the people of the city Pandora.

Each girl had her own color for clothes. They had only their color to wear, and the makeup they received (once they were sixteen) on their weekly trip to the Store. My color was a light orange; my latest dress a long sleeved, empire waist garment with dark brown boots. Thought the skirt wasn’t form fitting, it wasn’t made of stretchy material, making it hard to move. All of the dresses were like that, if only to make sure everyone had the same limited mobility. My sister, Cora, had the color of light pink. And though it was illegal, I couldn’t help feeling jealous of her and her pretty dresses.

“Lena, hurry up! We’ll be late for school,” my sister called up the stairs to where I had my bedroom. I pulled on the first dress I saw, grabbed my coat, and quickly put on some of the makeup I had received almost a week ago. As fast as I could go in my restricting skirt, I made my way down to the hall in front of the door - while simultaneously putting on my coat - where my sister was waiting for me, holding out my shoes for me to put on.

We grabbed our lacey umbrellas from the tin can in the front hall. Stepping out into the pouring rain, we hurriedly made our way to the carriage, where my sister’s friend Ashley and her younger sister Amalia were sitting. Our families had been friends since our many greats-grandmothers came to Pandora, and although I didn’t much like Amalia, I couldn’t break the bond that kept our families together. Mostly because, as my mother said, they were willing enough to share their carriage with our carriageless family.

As we reached the school, Amalia’s conversation - about her future husband - dimmed to a small whisper. I guess she saw the banner in the midst of her bright, but dull future.

Inspection Day.

“Whatever does that mean?” Amalia asked, while her brow furrowed intensely.

“It means that they will check if you are wearing the right clothes, and obeying the laws,” Ashley said.

Walking through the front doors, I heard many a name being called. But when I heard someone call my name, I jumped a bit, feeling unready for this. “Elena Duffy? You’re needed over here.” I turned around. A small woman with thick-rimmed glasses was gesturing to the big wooden door beside her.

“Ma’am, may I ask what am I needed for?” I walked over to her, my feet soundlessly hitting the granite floor.

“Come this way,” she said, ignoring my question. Through the wooden door we went, into a room I’d never seen before, where she told me to take off my coat while she found my file in the cabinet.

I did, and immediately thought, Oh no. This can’t be happening. But it was. I was wearing my sister’s light pink dress, the one with the floral lace print that I’d stolen from her earlier this week. I reached for my coat, hoping that I could cover it up, as Mrs. Inspector turned around. Her eyes widened and she grabbed a long needle, sticking me in the arm.

“Ow!” I cried, grabbing my arm back. I started to feel dizzy as she read off a bunch of numbers, my name and, finally, my color. Black dots distorted my vision as she clicked cold metal around my wrists. I fell into a black darkness as she instructed someone to take me to the jailhouse. My last conscious thought was, What’s a jailhouse?

~?~?~


I woke up in a dimly lit room with only three walls. The fourth was barred with rusted silver bars. Outside the fourth wall was a boy, maybe my age or a bit older, sitting in a mahogany-colored chair. He looked to be asleep, his head resting on the table beside him. Every other second, his dark hair would float up as he exhaled. I only sat watching him for thirty seconds before I said in a loud voice, “Where am I?”

He was startled, jumping up and glaring at me. Then he started laughing, a deep sound that only made me more uneasy about this. “Who are you and where am I?” I tried again, having calmed down enough to talk at a normal tone.

“Princess, you’re in jail.” He grinned. “I’m Silas Horan, jail-keeper’s son.”

“What’s jail?” I asked, before adding, “And my name’s not princess!”

He looked confused. “You don’t know what jail is? What kind of town do you live in, Princess?”

“My name’s not princess, it’s Lena, and I happen to live in a great town!” Though I was seriously starting to doubt the greatness of my town.

“Look, jail’s kind of like a serious punishment before the actual punishment.” I must’ve had the confusion written on my face, as he explained further, “It’s where people on trial stay before their fate gets decided by the Leaders. By the way, Princess, what crime did ya commit?”

“I did not commit a crime! Whatever that is… And for the last time, my name is not Princess!” I was getting more frustrated by the minute. I felt tears burning the corners of my eyes and I turned away from Silas.

“Please tell me you’re not crying,” he muttered. When I actually started sobbing, and burrowed my face in the skirt of my dress, he sighed and said, “Look, I’m sorry, okay? I didn’t mean to be, well, mean, but it’s weird that you don’t know this stuff. Or, you know, weird to me. But don’t you know why you were arrested?”

“I- I accidently put on my sister’s dress instead of my own.” I turned around, expecting to see disappointment in his eyes. Instead, I saw confusion.

“That’s it? You just put on your sister’s dress?” He sat down next to the bars.

I shuffled over to him. “It wasn’t my color.”

“Your… Your color?”

“Yes. My sister’s color is light pink, while mine is light orange. I wore her dress and disobeyed the Leaders. That is why I’m here.”

Silas stilled looked confused, if not astounded. “So because you wore light pink instead of orange, you’re in jail?” I nodded. “That’s crazy! I can wear whatever color I want!”

My eyes widened, and I found myself in awe. “Any color? Like red or orange or yellow or green or blue or… or purple?”

“Or all of them together. There’s no restriction on me or my family.”

“Wow,” I said breathlessly.

“It’s not that incredible, Princess. Are the Leaders afraid of individuality or something?”

“Shush!” I whispered, suddenly scared. “Don’t let them hear you! You could end up in a cell just like me.” Saying this, I remembered where I was, and sighed. “Oh, dear, this is dreadful. I wish I was home.”

“Can I ask you a question? What do they teach you in school?”

“The academy teaches me… used to teach me mathematics. I believe they were going to start calculus tomorrow.”

“So the one subject they teach you… it’s the one that nobody has feelings for anymore? What about if someone falls behind?” He asked me, one of his eyebrows above the other.

“They don’t fall behind.” Thinking of the academy only made me miss Pandora more. My bottom lip started quivering, and I realized that I was going to have tears roll down my cheeks and into the lap of my sister’s light pink dress, and that thought only made me more upset.

He looked off towards something to his left. “How about this? I’ll tell you a story if you promise you’ll try not to cry.”

“I’m not a little child. I don’t need a bedtime story.”

“Trust me. This isn’t one of your fairytales.” He saw my confusion and asked, “You don’t know what a fairytale is, do you?” I shook my head. “Okay, well, this isn’t a good story. In the year 2012, on December 21st, a nuclear bomb landed in New York. Another headed for Chicago, and a third landed in Los Angeles. These were high tech, and together, caused mass destruction in the United States of America. This launched the world into a nuclear war, causing entire continents to be sieged, and countries to be destroyed in only minutes. Only a few hundred people survived, hidden beneath layers and layers of rock. These people made their own city, Pandora, on what was left of Hawaii. They created a perfect city, and made it so this kind of thing would never happen again. Unfortunately, there were some flaws in their plan, like there was no individuality or emotion in their “perfect” city. They tried to make it so people would never get jealous of one another, so that they wouldn’t have war, but they went a bit overboard. They went back to the olden days when women were ladies and men were gentlemen. And soon, they had made it so everyone else believed it was perfect. Everyone thought they could do no better, except for those who knew better. They were called-”

“The Leaders will see Elena Duffy now,” a deep voice called, filling me with dread. The bars disappeared, and two men clothed in black pants and shirts entered the room, each of them grabbing an arm and yanking me up. As we walked, I felt something touch my heel. I looked back at Silas, who mouthed “good luck”. They forced me towards the door, and towards my fate.

“Elena Duffy. You are accused of breaking the law on your color. Do you agree to this charge?” There were thirteen of them, all dressed in dark colored hoods. They were all different colors, but the people never raised their heads. These are the anonymous Leaders, I realized.

“Yes, I mean, no. It was an accident, I promise! I didn’t mean-”

“Don’t try to sway our thoughts with your excuses,” one of them, the dark purple hood, said.

“I’m not trying to have any excuses! It was just a misunderstanding!”

“That will be all, Miss Duffy. You are free to go back to the jail until we have decided your punishment.”

The two men hustled me out as I heard a man come in, proclaiming, “Boats have arrived on the shore! They may not be friendly. What do you believe we should do, sirs?”

“This is what we were afraid of…”

They led me back to the jail and left me in front of my cell with Silas. “Put her back in the cell until they find out what her punishment will be.” After they’d left, Silas waited a minute, listening for something else. Then he grabbed my arm, yanking me towards a door I hadn’t seen before where a girl was waiting. “This is my cousin, Melcina. She’s going to help us escape.”

“Escape? What do you mean escape?” I asked as he grabbed my hand as it kept slipping from his fingers. “I should be in jail!”

“This way,” she whispered, grabbing my arm too, and running down a dark hall.

“I can’t run!” I half-whispered, half-yelled. If only to prove my point, I tripped over my own feet and landed face first in the dirt floor.

The girl helped me up, and took out some scissors. “What are you doing?” I asked, uneasy. She kneeled in front of me and cut half my skirt off, so it only went to my knees. “Hey! What do you think you are doing?” I couldn’t do anything now. My legs were showing, though in tights, and that’d never happened before. I could feel my cheeks growing hot in the darkness, but neither of them paid much attention.

“Don’t think about it!” The girl whispered. “We need to get out of this building before it blows up.”

“Mellie, she doesn’t know any ‘war’ terms,” Silas said as we exited into sunlight. She gestured towards a blue blanket off of the land, where a couple of houses on water were.

“They’re going to help us win freedom.” They started towards them at a fast speed while I stayed behind, not sure what to do. I was dirty, wearing my sister’s light pink dress (though the dress was so ragged, you couldn’t tell), and tired beyond belief, but was I willing to leave what I’d always known?

With a last look towards the frightening building of my past, I realized that I couldn’t stay restricted anymore. That thought in my mind, I followed Silas and Mellie towards my future destiny.




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