~~“Hold still,” Doctor Henrys says as he holds the mask over my face. I stare at his familiar green eyes, just like mine, as he slowly holds the strap in place. Looking around the room I have to push away the urge to sigh, the procedure is so tediously boring and I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve had to endure it.
Doctor Henrys turns the mask on and the familiar cold air rushes into my lungs. “Deep breaths,” he mutters to me and I do as he says, taking in great gulps of the icy air then pushing it out again.
At last Doctor Henrys takes the mask away and offers me a mint to suck on. I shake my head and watch as he starts to frown but then realises who he’s offering it too and swiftly puts it back into his pocket. “Well, Miss Morgestern, the results, as ever, are perfect. You continue to be our shining star,” he says and proudly shows me the computer monitor. I nod my head looking briefly at the number 100 flashing on the screen but I’m passed being surprised. That number has been with me my whole life.
“Am I free to go?” I ask and Doctor Henrys nods slowly and motions for the nurse standing beside me to help me off the bed. I shake my head as she offers her hand then quickly jump up. “See you next month,” I tell him then quickly step out of the overly pristine room.
Outside the air feels fresh and the sun warms my skin sending the familiar hum of energy tingling through me. I always feel more alive when I stand under the sun without an artificial window standing in the way.
As the wind ruffles my summer dress I smile and start to walk towards the gate leading out of the checkout rooms. “Miss, the car is waiting for you round the corner.” I freeze and stiffly turn around, my good mood frosting over.
“It’s alright Darren, I can make my own way home,” I tell him and take another step towards the door.
“Your father has given specific instructions for you to be driven home, today is not a good day for you to be wondering the streets alone,” Darren says flatly but adds a small smile at the end of it. I sigh and give up my pursuit of the gate, knowing there’ no point in arguing.
Darren leads me over to the black BMW and opens the door. I slide inside and collapse on the leather seat, scowling at the tinted windows. Today is the longest day of the year, I was hoping spend it relishing in the extended sun time.
But no. This day belonged the inefficient, the one day of the year they are allowed to the surface from the camps and mix with normal society. I shake my head, what a waste of the sun’s glorious rays.
My father always has a garden party this day of the year and everyone in the neighbourhood comes over to celebrate the solstice with fireworks and champagne. This year is the same and my mother has probably spent the day chasing servants and chefs around the house, it’s one of her favourite activities. I moan silently to myself as I think about the whole event. I hate standing around greeting every guest with a kiss on the cheek then smiling as they tell me how special I am. The car moves smoothly along the roads and we soon start cruising along the driveway up to my house. As it approaches I take some deep breaths readying myself for the torture to come.
Darren opens the door and I step outside then quickly climb the steps into the house, hoping to be able to sneak upstairs for half an hour before my mother starts fussing over me.
“Annalise! Where do you think you’re going, we have work to do.” I freeze on the marble stair way as I hear my mother’s shrill voice behind me. I slowly turn to face her pulling the sweetest smile I can muster. “Of course mother,” I reply through gritted teeth. She smiles at me and rubs her hands together. “Don’t worry darling, I’ve set up the sun bed for you so you can have half an hour of synthesising before we glam you up. I nod feeling relieved, at least I can relax for a little while.
Inside the sun room the roof is open so the rays of sunlight that shine on me are real and warm. I slide my cardigan off my arms then sit down on the bench in the middle of the room. I then take some deep breaths and concentrate on feeling the rays of sunlight tingling on my skin. Slowly I watch my normally pale skin turn to pastel green as the chlorophyll in my green blood cells comes up to the surface of my body and I let it course through me.
I like to do this in private even though it’s perfectly normal for an efficient like me. My parents and friends do it all the time outside and at school. However for some reason I only like doing it here, on my own.
Our world is divided by a clear line. There’s the people like me and my parents who’re called the efficient, we produce oxygen instead of carbon dioxide because we are part of the successful upgrades to humanity. However we all produce different percentages of oxygen, some of us only produce 5% and others produce 90%. The reason everyone looks at me with admiration and curiosity is because I’m 100% efficient. Sunlight gives me everything I need so I don’t need to eat and sleeping is a habit for me, I could stay awake 24/7 if I wanted to.
On the other side of the line is the inefficient, the one’s that take oxygen and just breath out carbon dioxide. They’re the reason pollution is happening, at least that’s what my parents and teachers say. The inefficient live under us in the dark suburbs or in work camps. I hear the streets are so covered in filth and dirt that you can’t see your feet when you walk along them. The suburbs are dark because the inefficient have no need for sunlight, they won’t do anything with it. That is why I’m so annoyed that they get to party on the longest day of the year while I’m stuck at home.
After my 30 minutes is up my mother comes clacking into the sun room in her stilettos waving a pair of diamond earrings at me. I quickly turn back to my normal ivory colour and give her a small smile. “These are for you to wear tonight, Jonathan Lichtenstein is coming and I want you to look your very best when you meet him.” I nod, rolling my eyes. He’ll be another of the rich men coming to see me. My mother likes to call them suitors whereas I just think they’re a pain in the ass. I’m 17 but I don’t think I’m quite ready to be thinking about a husband quite yet. This doesn’t stop my mother from primping and preening me for a good 2 hours making me presentable every time a ‘suitor’ is coming.
I roll my eyes every time she forces me into a new summer dress. If it were up to me I’d just go in a pair of jeans and a checked shirt. She finally settles for a pale yellow one that finishes just above my knees. It flatters my figure well and gives me curves I never knew I had. “Perfect” My mother says as she runs a hand though my brown hair. She then puts my earrings in place and stands back to admire her work.
When she finally leaves I collapse onto my bed, I have 20 minutes before the guests start arriving then I’ll have to spend the rest of the evening with a fake smile plastered onto my face and shaking hands with people I’ve never met before. I groan at the thought of this then stand up to take a few deep breaths. The diamond earrings feel heavy and I feel odd with them on so I quickly take them off and replace them for a pair of plain studs. I then shrug my well-worn denim jacket on and replace the heels my mother forced me into for some sandals. I then wash the makeup off my face and smile at myself in the mirror, I feel more normal now. I know my mother will be cross but she’ll just have to get over it and so will everyone else who thinks I’m supposed to be a pristine delicate princess.
I’m about to leave my room when I hear a tap on the window. I hear it again and again until it annoys me enough to make me walk over to it and investigate. I look down and see Gater, my best friend since childhood, smiling up at me. I slide the window up so I can hear what he’s saying. “Hey, want to escape the asylum for a few hours?” He calls up to me. I smile but quickly look around to check no one has heard him. “Where are you going?” I ask him and he flashes mischievous grin
“To the festival of course”