But I, being poor, have only my dreams. I have spread my dreams under your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams – William Butler
~~The world around me is fuzzy, outside is bright and the sun is coming up, showing me its early morning. I’m sitting impatiently on a leather seat inside an air train drumming my fingers nervously on the tray in front of me. Words are flying passed me in a buzz of noise and my ears are ringing with anticipation. As the dots on the screen above me move closer and closer to my stop my breathing accelerates. I can feel the smooth train ticket in my left hand but can’t make myself look down at my destination. The train comes to a silent stop and I’m standing up slinging a rucksack on by back and walking over to the sleek doors that slide open, then everything fades into a bright light.
I jolt up in my bed gasping for air, a layer of sweat covering me, my hair in a tangled mess and my sheets scrunched up and twisted. I slow my breathing, shakily get up and neaten my sheets then I take a quick shower and brush my hair. No evidence is left to give away that I’d been dreaming. I glance at my small black POD that’s lying on my crooked bedside table and sigh; slumping back down onto my bed. It’s only 7:30. 1 sign that someone is having dreams is waking up early.
I look around my tiny room, the faded carpet with nail varnish stains all over it, crumpled up clothes littering the floor and my second-hand wardrobe standing in the corner a few steps away from my creaky old bed. The wallpaper is pealing and dad put up some posters to cover the damp. The government’s symbol is printed on one of them, a reminder for me every day that they own me.
I cross my legs on the bed and it groans with the small movement and I shake my head, when will I be able to buy something that’s not second hand? Then my eyes fall on the calendar. They widen as I see today is the day before the big Red Cross marking my final injection day. I stand up to look at it closer to double check, today is Thursday the 5th of August and tomorrow is my 16th birthday. I start shaking as I remember my first injection, the one my mum took me to when I was 4 years old. They’d told me I would only feel a tiny prick, yet I’d felt much more pain than.
I had the injection to take my dreams away but they stayed, it worked for all my friends, everyone at school, in fact no one has ever heard of someone the injection hasn’t worked on. That’s why when I had a dream the night after my injection my mum had held me firmly and said “Don’t tell anyone Ashlyn, you’re special” At the time I’d nodded thinking that everything was going to be fine. 12 years later I know it isn’t, I’ve had to keep the secret from so many people and lie to my friends. However, now I understand that if the government find out I still have dreams, I ‘m almost certain I will be dead or in a lab the next day.
I absentmindedly touch my fingers to the almost invisible scar behind my right ear, that was where they opened me up and tried to take my dreams away. Tomorrow it will be reopened, then in the afternoon I will have my final test to decide which job I’m ‘suited too’. That is what life is like in zone 3; they suck your dreams away then send you to some crappy job living in a tiny house and only being allowed one child. That’s why I love my dreams, they paint colour into my otherwise grey world; I don’t want them taken away tomorrow.
When my POD beeps to announce its 8’o clock I stand and check myself in the cracked mirror on my wardrobe. My jeans are faded and have rips all over them and my hoodie is a size to small, mum had promised to get some new ones but then dad’s wages were cut so I’m stuck in these rags. I quickly look away and slap on some cheap make up then gallop down the stairs.
My dad is sitting at the table plugged into his POD, like he is every morning, and my mum is frying eggs. POD stands for personal organising device, it holds everything: money, ID even T.V, it’s one of the only things the government lets everyone over the age of 4 have for free.
When I walk in mum lets out the small sigh she as she spots what I’m wearing, I know she hates the fact she can never give me more than what’s necessary. I sit at the table and eat my eggs; we all know what day it is tomorrow.
My parents and my best friend Mirax are the only people who know about my dreams. Me and Mirax have been best friends ever since he’d found my marble in basic school. I’ve gathered other friends over the years but me and Mirax are basically joined at the hip, however now he’s moved to the west section of zone 3 to train to be a computer engineer I hardly ever see him. We are both hoping I get sent to a school up in the west sector as well but we both know that’s unlikely. The only girl’s training schools there are for hairdressing and the school they send people to train to work at super markets. I’m not sure you need training to do that but somehow the government have found a way. Mirax has had his injections, all my friends have, I’m the youngest so I’m the last.
My dad silently slips out the house to go to the small shop he runs down the road. He used to drag me along to help out there until I knocked over all the shelves and put the wrong price stickers on everything. He was so cross we didn’t talk for weeks and I was cross because I couldn’t sneak free booze out for a while. Now I’ve ‘persuaded’ Marco the new shop assistant to do it for me.
Getting drunk is illegal for people in zone 3, doesn’t stop me and my friends from doing it though. We see it as our own stupid way of rebelling against the Government.
My own secret way is drawing. When you have your dreams taken away you lose any creative abilities you might have, drawing included. They didn’t take mine away so I haven’t lost my imagination this means on paper my mum bought for shopping lists I let my hands do the talking for once, and sketch. Mostly I draw my dreams but I’ve drawn my parents and got Mirax to let me draw him as well.
After breakfast I sit on my bed and sketch the dream I had last night, relishing each mark I make with the stubby pencil I own. I’m almost finished when Rina messages me on the POD to ask if I want to meet up. I quickly reply yes before pulling on my coat and clattering down the stairs. “Don’t touch any alcohol and be back my 5” My mum shouts as I slip out the door.
I leave the small run down building I’m made to call my home and walk down the road to the park. It’s full of shrieks from small children running around in hand me down welly’s and knitted scarves. The play park looks rusty and withered but it doesn’t the children of the town jumping for joy when their parents bring them here.
I push open the gate and it groans as I walk through, I stride over to the swings and sit on the closest one. As I start to rock myself back and forth, my knackered old boots leaving dusty lines in the stony gravel, I spot Rina and the rest of the gang walking in and let out a small smile. It doesn’t take much to guess what’s in the orange bag in Rina’s hand, drinks.
Bessie sits on the swing next to me and kicks the ground so she starts swinging. I keep my feet firmly on the ground, my fear of heights keeping me from swinging with her. They all know why I’m afraid and after that day I don’t know why they don’t all keep their feet on the ground. A shiver runs over me as I remember it but I block most of the memory like I always do.
“You nervous about tomorrow?” Rina asks as she hands me a can of beer. I pop it open and shrug “Not really” I lie feeling the butterflies in my stomach flutter even more. “I wonder what it’s like to have dreams” Tia, who’s sitting cross legged on the floor, says.
“You’d have to be a pricker or a sucker to know, it makes me sick to know other people are having our dreams” Mara spits. I look away from them, feeling guilty like I always do when they start talking about dreams. I lift the beer can to my lips and take a large gulp and feel the familial liquid sliding down my throat. I enjoy the buzz of pleasure it gives me to break the rules and start to relax as the butterflies settle down.
We laugh and chat, the world becoming more blurry as we empty the bag of beers, the hours trickle by and before I know it I look at my POD and notice there’s 6 missed calls from mum and its 9:00. “Dam it!” I say braking away from Kirin who had is arm over me, he’d had a thing for me for a few weeks now and he’s been hanging round with us this afternoon taking advantage of the fact I’m drunk. “I am so dead” The others start giggling and Kirin starts to pull me back to him but I push him away. “Good luck with your injection” Rina shouts as I start to stumble through the park.
The house is silent as I walk in. I hesitate before going into the kitchen, my mum is sat there staring into space her face isn’t scowling its expressionless. This scares me the most, normally she’d shout at me then ground me, not this time. She shakes her head “You always have been different Ashlyn but that doesn’t mean you have special privileges. Getting drunk is illegal, if they found out, you’d be taken away and probably killed.” She whispers but slowly gets louder “You’ll be 16 tomorrow and have you any idea how worried I’ve been, sat here wondering if your okay, not knowing whether you’d been caught and snatched away from me forever.” She lifts the weight of her green eyes, which are almost identical to mine, to me and small crystal droplets start falling down her face. “I’m sorry” I whisper at her feeling ashamed and stupid. She turns away from me and continues staring at the worn out tiles on the floor, so I slowly walk up the stairs in disgrace. I’ve never seen her like this before.
Inside my room I stare at the government’s poster that everyone has to have in their rooms. I hate their rules, why should we suffer for our ancestors mistakes? I run my hand over it then find a loose corner and tug, ripping it from the wall. I toss it into the bin, feeling a little better. If they’re going to treat us like rebels, that is what we shall become.