It's Friday. Today is the day. I'm awake as soon as the rapping of a fist on my wooden door causes me to sit bolt upright. Pulling back the covers I run to the door and Trent is holding out a piece of clothing to me - a dress. If it was any other day I would've shoved it back into his face; there is no way in hell I would ever wear a dress, but because all I'm bothered about is answers, I take it from him gratefully. Now is my moment to shine.
It only takes a few minutes to slip on the silk, a dark maroon shade outlining my curved figure. I wish I was like all the other girls at school. Perfect. But considering I have no mirror to shatter my dreams, I figure that there's no harm in me adventuring out like this. After all, no one really knows me anyway.
I'm trying to fight the tangles in my hair with the brush Trent handed me a moment ago, but it takes longer than expected. I'm surprised I haven't formed dreadlocks in my hair, considering how long I've gone without grooming it. Perhaps they did it for me. Brush my hair. When I was in that big, black hole of mine over Christmas and New Year. Did I die and come back to life? It's not possible to forget that much of your life.
There's a knock on my door a moment later and I open it to see Trent beaming at me. "You look decent."
I choke. "Um, thanks. I'll take that as a compliment."
"So you should." He leads me out into the corridor and that's when I notice - the emptiness. No maids run about with trays or tattered-clothed boys barging into people. Where could everyone possibly be?
"So I need to make a few things clear before we head out," Trent begins to say, but he doesn't get any more words into the sentence before I'm cutting in.
"Out? We're going out!" I smile stretches across the length of my face. Freedom! I will be able to feel the air of the right side, the breeze, see what this side is really like.
"Yes, but only on some conditions." He remarks.
It's hard not to feel slightly deflated by this. The rules so far haven't exactly been great, and have made my actions very limited. I guess it'll be okay if I'm at least not blindfolded. At least then I can see the atmosphere, even if I can't take part in it.
Trent leads me to the dining room we sat at before, except this time there's no crowds of people filling up all the chairs. The room seems so much bigger, a chandelier hanging from the centre ceiling and the cutlery laid out to perfection. Trent holds out a chair for me at the end of the table and I thank him, sitting down. He later takes a seat beside me.
"So," he links his hands on the table and I instantly recall me doing the same when I was asking Aviur questions, "today is going to be tough."
"Tough? I can do tough." I say, bravely, trying to forget about my treacherous journey so far.
"Well , if you're good at acting then it's all okay."
He nods and I stare him down. Why would I need to act? Everyone knows who I am - the girl who tried to escape the left side. Don't they?
Trent shuffles awkwardly in his seat.
"What?" I almost shout. If he's going to hide things from me, I want to know.
He eventually speaks up. "People don't know about you."
My eyes, that were looking down at my lap, suddenly flicker to meet his. "What?"
"They don't know that you're a leftie. For all they know, you're one of us."
"Yes, I know you saw the television which proved we can see your side, but not everyone is as fortunate as that. People don't watch your escape over the wall on the television like it's some kind of event. Hell, we barely have any TV's around here."
I find my eyes glued to him, as if I need more to unstick myself from this awful reality. Did I really think I'd be some kind of hero? For a moment I had thought Aviur had wanted me here. Of course he doesn't. Why the hell would he ask for difficulty? Because I am difficult. I know that. I just don't understand how this all came to happen so quickly.
"It's okay," Trent reassures me, patting me awkwardly on the shoulder, but reassurance is not what I need. I need proof.
"So you're going to have to pretend to be one of us, okay? Just for today."
"H..h...how?" I stammer, "I...I can't...make fire."
"I know, but you don't have to. Just stand like you know you can, with confidence, and no one will question it."
"Okay." I feel my thoughts slowly rising to the surface, until they finally blossom in front of his face. "So what is this palace? Who are all these people?"
"This palace is the government of the right side."
It takes a while to sink in. "Government? How is this a government?"
"I know, it's different to what you're used to, but does it really seem that surprising after everything else you've learnt about this place?" He speaks the truth. I can't deny it.
"So Aviur is in charge of this side of the country?"
"Sort of, yes, which is why he saved you when you attempted to get over here. He had to, because people saw you at the top and thought you were one of us, that someone from the right side was leaving for the left. He had to pretend to stop you, which is why he unfortunately had to use the power of fire."
I peer down at the scar on my arm. So he didn't rescue me to save my life; he had no choice. Deep down though, I guess I knew it.
But out loud I ask, "Why would someone leave the right side for the left?"
Trent smiles, grabbing my wrist and yanking me from the chair. "Let's go find out."