My eyes look back at me in the glass of the mirror. They're not exactly brown, and not exactly green either. Apparently a colour like this is called 'hazel', but it's not really a colour. It's a mix, like me. I'm a mixed person, all angles and mixed colours. An unreal figure.
I suppose it's fitting to not be real anymore. Glacials like me aren't citizens anymore. Glacials aren't people.
I get reminded of this every day, when I'm injected with the sky-coloured Calm stigma to last me throughout the day. It's so I remember it when I get given to my new family, and don't start thinking I'm equal to any member. Glacials are not true people. We deserve what we get. Being a Glacial is a punishment for doing something wrong. A crime. As I committed a really serious crime, I got made into a Glacial as a second chance. I'm lucky to have just lost my emotions, so I shouldn't push my luck and ask too many questions.
At least that's what the doctor told me when I first asked why I'd been made Glacial. Odd name they gave us...Glacials. It reminds me of a glacier, but not exactly, as glaciers are pretty but this isn't. This isn't pretty at all.
I'm supposed to be happy right now. The blue ink on my palm reads out 'New family means happy. Happy yellow stigma', so that's what I must do. I must be happy for this. The doctors told me how to do this on day one, so I know what I'm doing. Carefully, I go over to the port, tap my finger to the button for 'Happy' - making sure to spin the hour dial to twenty-four - and collect the small, capped needle from the tray underneath.
I've never thought of yellow as a suitable colour for the Happy stigma. It's supposed to be the colour of sunshine, but to me it looks like piss. Besides, if yellow is the colour of sunshine, why isn't every light we see during the day yellow, turning through orange and red to black as the sun goes down, instead of from white, to grey, to black? It's definitely not the best colour choice they could have made.
I uncap the needle steadily, pushing the plunger a bit so a drop of the Happy stigma runs down the slim, silver needle. It's not a good image, the needle, but my doctor says it is. How it can be good when the pain of having to push it into the top of my arm makes me bite my lip, I have no idea, but apparently it is. My hands shaking from the feeling of the needle in my arm, I slowly push the plunger down, and pull it out, letting the Happy stigma get to work. I've used a full needle's worth, so I should be clear for the next twenty-four hours.
The Happy stigma kicks in pretty quickly, relaxing my mind and making everything look better. Even the reflection I see in the cracked glass mirror, of the girl dressed in an oversize belted grey shirt and black leggings sitting on my grey-sheeted iron bed, with her plain grey flats on the worn, wooden flooring. The girl that's me. Violet Chara. Violet with the dishwater blonde hair, in soft curls and a fringe, and hazel eyes. They look pretty now, with a slight shine to them. Wide awake and shining in a mix of brown and green. Earth eyes. I hope they look pretty enough for my new family to accept me. I don't want to have two dislikeable things against me, instead of just one. Being a Glacial and being ugly would be terrible.
They'd been telling me about it for two weeks now, my new family. I can't have my old one anymore as I'll just go back to being a bad person. Though at least I won't be completely blind to my new family, as my doctor gave me bits of data to plug into the port, about my three new family members. Blake, Lana, and Jay Triheart - my new father, mother, and older brother - part of the noble house of Triheart. One of the last remaining noble houses of our time.
The Happy stigma plays with how I think about them, as I remember what I read from the screen, but all that comes to me through the cheerful haze is my new brother. According to records, Jay Triheart would be my nineteen-year-old brother, four years older than me. He was not a Glacial, so he was a good citizen. He was my polar opposite and my superior, so I was not to harass him in any way, and I was to obey his every order. After all, I'm not a citizen. I'm not a person at all.
My small dorm room smells unyieldingly of bleach, and the cheap soap they use in the shower block, just down at the end of the corridor. Six shower stalls for twenty Glacials in each dorm block. It can be a bit of a crush, but the trick is to wait until everyone's done waiting. Then you get the last shower of the day, and don't get interrupted by another Glacial pulling the curtain back on you. Apparently I won't have to worry about that any more, as in my new home, I'll have my own shower, and my own room.
It'll be weird, having my own room again. Technically I have one now, but as none of the rooms in the dorm block has a door on it, it's not really my own. I can remember having my own room with my not-family, but the Happy stigma distorts how I see it. It makes me see the yellow walls of my bedroom as painted in sunlight, and the white wood of my low bed as a cradling cloud, that supported me each night as I drifted off.
I know it wasn't really like that though, as when I think about it before being injected with a stigma, my room just looks like...well, a normal bedroom. A few bookshelves, white sheets on my white wood bed, yellow walls, and white curtains onto dark mahogany floors. That's it. Not even a spark of what the Happy stigma gives me when I look at the posters on the wall, that I vaguely remember choosing. There isn't even a spark of what the Love stigma gives me, when I remember my not-mother.
She doesn't look much like me, from what I remembered before being injected with any stigma. Her hair curled wildly to her breasts, in a dark black, spiralling and curling into a bouncy mass of hair, and her eyes were a deep brown. She was tanned too, a kind of sandy colour, but still light enough to be seen as white. She was far more coloured in how she dressed, not caring about others saying she was too bold. The one dress of hers that stands out boldest, is probably the sunset one. It fell to her knees, from dark blue at her shoulders, turning through purple to red at the very base of the hem. My not-mother was never without colour. Not at all.
Neither was she without sound. She laughed a lot, exposing her teeth that were dazzlingly white against her sandy skin, and frequently sang along to her music. Not-mum did like to sing along, and listened to whatever she wanted, regardless of genre and whatever was popular. Though she was happiest listening to songs from hundreds of years ago, way before the New Monarchy, when the covers for those CDs were painted in unusual and eclectic swirls of colour, and somewhat random imagery. She didn't even care about not hitting the high notes when she sang along, or how loud her voice and dancing used to be. Her world was full of colour and loud harmonies. A land of vibrancy was where she lived.
She probably dwindled into shades of grey when I was taken and made a Glacial though. Her singing silenced, and her vibrant land washed away.
"You're ready then, I see."
The voice startles me, but the Happy stigma makes me brush it off quickly, and want to welcome the speaker. Mrs Drew, my doctor. The rest of the Glacials bet that she was the reason why the Anger stigma levels were always so low, and her steely, brittle voice was often the most loathed sound for them. Today, her shoulder-length brown hair was tied back into a French plait, and her navy suit was pristine under her white lab coat, making her look like a New Monarchy doll, complete with clipboard accessory. Yet no child would ever willingly play with a doll with such cold, grey eyes behind black rimmed glasses. They'd terrify themselves.
"All ready." I replied, unable to get rid of my smile, even under her cold glare. The uniform for my new school had been sent off to my new home, the five clothing sets I'd picked were waiting in my new wardrobe, and the Happy stigma was still skipping merrily through my veins. Everything was complete. All I needed was my family.
"Come on then. If you keep them waiting long enough, they may decide not to take you. You've only got one chance to get a new family, Violet." She coldly replied, as she guided me through the hall of my dorm. The smell of bleach was even worse out in the hall, and despite the Happy stigma, the white walls still looked cold and unfriendly. Despite the Happy stigma, I still felt chills and depression leak out of this place, like oil. It dripped out of the walls and stuck to the skin in rivulets, refusing to come off no matter how hard I scrubbed.
I was ushered into the steel box of a lift at the end of the hall. I'd only seen glances of the inside before, and its polished wooden walls and carpeted floors were a world away from the white, clammy tiled floor and blanched walls. Even the light looked different; it came from behind an ornate-looking chandelier in green glass, making the light seem gentle and warming, compared to the harsh, glaring light of the naked bulbs in the dorm block. The exit lift must be like this as it went straight into the waiting room, for new parents. Though we are not people any longer, and not citizens, it still gives the true citizens and members of the New Monarchy peace of mind to know that we're not being abused and forced to live in squalor. No new parents want to adopt an abused Glacial. It's hard enough putting up with one of us as it is.
The lift doors opened up, into the spacious waiting room. Here, the carpeting was a muted dark green, and the walls panelled in white wood, accented with gold decoration. Small gatherings of armchairs upholstered in navy velvet were scattered around low wooden tables, and the windows were fitted with stained glass in deep blue, green, and red, framed by navy curtains. This is where my new family was. This is where I'd get my first look at the people willing to take me in, even though I'm no longer a person.
"Violet, these are the Trihearts. Go on, introduce yourself." Mrs Drew said to me, placing a hand in the small of my back and pushing me forward. Her voice sounded like someone had drizzled honey over that blade of hers, in clearly an attempt to sound less like a complete gargoyle. I could feel her sharp nails poking into my back as she guided me forward though, so it was a bit of an exercise in futility.
There they were. My new family had chosen to stay, sitting around a low table and looking up at me. Blake, Lana, and Jay Triheart. They looked very similar to the images I'd seen on the port, but still...seeing them for the first time was odd. Jay looked a lot like a younger version of his father, as both had short black hair and dark eyes, though while his father's were a honey brown, Jay's were almost completely black, and looked empty. Only the mother, Lana, looked different, as her hair was long and straight, falling to her waist in a deep red colour, and her eyes were a soft blue. Her and Blake looked pretty demure, dressed in plain black. Only Jay showed colour, in a plain blue sweater over a grey collared shirt, and black trousers made out of some kind of expensive material, that fell onto expensive looking black shoes.
They looked like what they'd been described as. The members of one of the last remaining noble houses of our time.
I could feel the Happy stigma was pulling my lips into a smile, and giving my eyes an open sparkle, but what if they didn't like me? What if they suddenly got up and left me here? I know my clothes weren't exactly the most high-class, and I wasn't exactly the prettiest girl in the world, but would they get up and leave me because of these, my shortcomings? I'm a Glacial, I'm low class, and I'm not pretty.
Well maybe I don't need or want to be pretty. Maybe I like how I am. Breathing in deeply, the Happy stigma making me glow from within, I could feel my neck holding my head up high, as I went over to introduce myself.
"Hello, you must be the Trihearts." I beamed, making sure to smile even though the Happy stigma was doing that for me. "I'm Violet. Violet Chara."
I wasn't sure what I was expecting to be the response. Maybe for one of them to get up and introduce themselves in return. What I certainly wasn't expecting was for Mrs Triheart to get up and suddenly hug me tight, staggering slightly in her very high black heels. She was a lot stronger than she looked, that was for sure, as she managed to hug me very tight against her. Up close, she smelled muskily sweet, like she was wearing heavy perfume, and was definitely a lot shorter than I'd expected. Without her heels, she'd probably only come up to the bridge of my nose, tiny compared to my five foot ten frame.
When she eventually let go, the first thing she did was turn back to her husband. "She's perfect, Blake." She purred, in a breathy voice dusted with an accent I couldn't quite place. It sounded like she was from the other island, just to the west. The one that used to be called Ireland.
Perfect? What did she mean by that? "She definitely is, love." Mr Triheart added, extending his hand for me to shake. "Pleasure to meet you, Violet. Please, call me Blake. We're lucky to be able to adopt you into our family."
The Happy stigma kept my smile, as I took his hand and shook it. "I'm lucky to be adopted by you." I replied, noticing Jay weakly smile behind his father. His eyes were still completely empty though, cold and almost anxious-looking.
"She truly is perfect, isn't she. Jay, come say hello. Meet your new sister." Mrs Triheart gushed, before turning to Jay and ushering him forward to meet me. I could feel him looking me up and down, checking me all over.
"I'm very pleased to meet you, Violet." Jay quietly muttered. His voice sounded lower than I'd expected, and almost smoky. His hand did shake a little as he extended it for me to shake, so maybe he was just shy.
"Pleased to meet you too, Jay." I replied, taking his hand. It was like taking hold of an ice block, so it wasn't the most pleasant experience.
"Wonderful, glad to see you're all getting on. All I need are your signatures here, and you're free to go." Mrs Drew purred, handing over her clipboard and a pen to Blake and Lana. Wait...I had no idea there had to be something signed. What if they refuse? I could be left here...and we're not given a second chance.
My hands were shaking despite the buzz of the Happy stigma in my veins, as I was handed the clipboard. My new parents' signatures were at the bottom, one loopy and the other squiggly, against the neat, typed words of the custody forms. The words seemed blurry as I tried reading through the whole form, attempting to blank out the sound of Mrs Drew impatiently tapping her foot. The words just refused to go in, no matter how much I tried forcing them to.
There was no point in stalling anymore. My hand shook a little as I signed the form, my signature untidy compared to officially my new parents', and handed back the clipboard. Mrs Drew gave her honeyed-blade smile as she took it over, checking our signatures.
"Perfect, everything seems to be in order. Well then, suppose there's only one thing left. Violet, you're now a part of the Triheart family."
Lana suddenly hugged me again at Mrs Drew's words, but this time I got a face full of her tickly, red hair. It smelled pretty strongly of fruits, but what kind, I had no idea. It was too citrus-like to be strawberry-scented, yet not enough to be orange or lemon. Somewhere in the middle...like apple. It certainly smelled nice, especially with her musky perfume, but it was hard to breathe through it all, especially whilst she hugged me so tight.
It was certainly a relief when she let go, allowing me to catch my breath. "Our baby." Lana whispered to herself, before taking me by the hand, and leading me out of the hospital building, as a part of the family.
It had been so long since I'd been able to see sunlight, and to feel it on my skin. The Happy stigma didn't need to make my eyes sparkle, or make me feel like I could dance down the street. Even the air felt good, fresher and cleaner, smelling of outside and life, instead of strong bleach. I didn't even care that Jay was sending me a dirty look as I walked down the street to the air train stop, as I was out. I was out of the hospital.
"I take it that it's been a while since you could be out in the sunlight, Violet?" My new father asked, as he saw me looking up at the tops of the buildings, where the sun touched them. Everything looked so bright, with the glass a shimmering blue, and the actual buildings ranging in shape from twisted spirals, to arch-shaped with an artificial waterfall in the centre, cascading down to a shallow pool with the bottom tiled in coloured squares of Plexiglass.
The most distinct ones were definitely the buildings of the New Monarchy. They were at least two thousand feet high, as the tops of the buildings just cut into the clouds on the overcast days when I looked through the bars of my old dorm room window. Though the vast majority of the building was just a lift shaft to the actual complex, right at the top, glowing pale yellow from within, and shaped to look perfectly like a lotus flower.
They were the symbol of the New Monarchy, lotus flowers. Emblazoned on the outside of every building, worked into everywhere, the lotus flower of the New Monarchy was impossible to ignore, along with the motto. Ad bonum commune communitatis. For the common good of the community.
The air train waiting at the stop certainly didn't look normal compared to the air trains I'd seen before, balancing on one electronic rail high above the city. The normal ones were plain silver, sleek and simple, with many individual carriages. This one was a deep royal blue, with only three connecting carriages. The middle one was painted with a shield-shaped crest in royal purple, framed in silver and adorned with three hearts. A motto was enscribed underneath, in silver writing. Amoris et Amicus. It certainly seemed luxurious, and must be a private air train, reserved just for the members of the noble house of Triheart.
"I bet you've never been on a private air train before, Violet. I hope you like it." My new mother spoke, as the doors automatically swung inwards, almost beckoning us to enter. Tentatively, I took a few paces forward into the carriage, ushered forward by my new family.
It definitely wasn't like the normal air trains on the inside. Here, plump, curved sofas covered in navy blue silk were arranged into groups, around four ornate dining tables of some sort of dark wood, all complete with an entertainment projection system. Racks of newspapers and magazines were positioned on either side of the carriage doors, and cabinets in the same dark wood were between the sofas, acting as tables as well as storage. The carriage walls were papered in soft dove grey, and the carpets were a rich purple, whilst lights shaped like blazing stars were fixed to the navy ceiling, that probably cast mock moonlight into the carriage once the sun set outside the wide windows.
Nervously, I took a seat on one of the sofas, perching tentatively as my new family sat opposite me on the other side of the table. I'd never been anywhere like this before, with anyone like them. This...this didn't feel right. I wasn't a person anymore. I wasn't supposed to be treated like this. I was a Glacial. I was a criminal with a second chance. Not a citizen, and certainly not part of the upper class.
"We're lucky with the travel today. We should be home in a matter of hours. You've never been out to the country before, have you, Violet?" My new mother asked, as I obediently shook my head.
"No, Mrs Triheart-"
"Call me Lana, dear. We're family now."
"Right, sorry. I've never been out to the country before. I've spent all my life in the North City." I replied, remembering to stay quiet when not spoken to. Nobody likes a Glacial, but a Glacial who won't keep quiet is liked even less.
"So you won't know anyone in the West City then. We'll have to make sure Jay shows you around once you're completely settled into your new home, and new school. Jay's just left the one you'll be going into, Spring Route Academy. It's a really good school, so we hope you'll like it there." My new father added, smiling softly at me. "What year were you in when you left your last school?" He suddenly asked, as I felt the air train give a lurch, and suddenly start moving.
"I was in year nine. I'll be in year ten for this school." I replied obediently.
My new mother smiled widely. "You'll be starting your examinations then. We weren't told what subjects you'll be doing, so make sure you tell us. We want to be there for you every step of the way, Violet." She chimed. "Do you want a drink? It's a long journey home. We've got everything you could imagine."
Wow. I thought I was to be lower to them, not treated as an equal. "Erm...sure, thank you. What is there?" I replied.
"Everything you could imagine. Tell you what, why not try a small glass of something new, to see if you like it. Elderflower's pretty different, why not try it? Jay, can you get your new sister a glass please?" My new father asked, as Jay sloped off the edge of the sofa, and kneeled down to open up one of the cabinets.
I could just see him at the side of my vision, as my new mother talked to me. "Everything's new for you, isn't it. You were probably expecting to be treated like a servant. The whole 'Glacials aren't people' concept, and all that. Well you are a person to us, Violet. You're part of our family now, and we're glad to have you." She softly chimed.
The Happy stigma made me smile wider, even though I could see Jay sending me the coldest look I think I've ever seen. He knelt by the open cabinet, holding a glass of something that must be the elderflower that Blake had mentioned. He smiled once he caught my eye, but it certainly wasn't a nice smile. It was a smile of pure venom, as he leaned on the cabinet door, and mouthed something in my direction.
Then he spat in my glass at the same time as closing the cabinet door with a loud enough bang to hide it.