Being naturally a very analytical person, I thrive on numbers.
They comfort me when I’m lost, because they make sense. They are simple and clear-cut as there are rules fixed in place that determine how you manipulate them. You can use numbers to draw out accurate conclusions about the world- all the best scientists use them to support their theories. When you strip back the electronic abacus’ that we use to forge our own virtual identities, you will reveal their numerical infrastructure. When you clip a curb around a tight bend in the road, it’s because you’ve misjudged the angle. Your national insurance number, credit card details, bank statements, house number, phone number, library card pin, goods barcodes, TV license and date of birth are all numbers. Numbers, numbers and yet more numbers. The world is coloured with them. You just can’t argue with numbers.
The discovery of three key numerical facts helped me determine my sister’s fate.
Fact 1: 427,000 results pop up when you plug ‘Zaiden’ into Google. (Inc. abbreviations)
Fact 2: Colton, 2nd place on the name charts, gets 156,000,000 results. (No abbreviations)
Fact 3: Colton’s 156,000,000 is roughly 365.3 times larger than Zaiden’s 427,000.
These 3 facts were presented to me after I woke up in a government cell, my head rolling and my parched eyes vigorously blinking, my body trying to hydrolyze them so I could see the approaching danger. These facts were delivered with contempt in a non-explanatory manner. I didn't know what was going on exactly, the relevance of these facts astounded me. Colton? Zaiden?
I was only meters from where my sister too was being held after being abducted by government officers like I had been. I awoke to see the phantom Henrik Walcott, with his despairingly white skin, white hair and grey iris' twitching with self importance glaring at me.
It felt seemingly ironic that we began with names. Names were what had got us into this mess in the first place after all. Who knew that a jumble of letters fashioned to fit someone’s identity could be so damn important to everyone? If everyone relied on numbers like me, then we wouldn’t be in such a state of chaos.
“Your sister has made a bit of a mess of things.”
I gnashed the insides of my molars together. "How so?"
He levered a briefcase onto the table, the clang of metal striking metal reverberating against the four walls before silencing; the waves sinking into the depths of the compact walls. Sound proofing.
Then he gave me the 3 numerical facts.
“What are they meant to mean?”
His scowl protruded further, “There are a lot more Colton’s out there then there are Zaidens. Your sister will have a bigger chance of finding a Colton than a Zaiden.”
I swallowed, my throat suddenly going dry. The very idea of knowing the name on someone else's wrist can send you crazy some say. Even if its your sister's. “Your point?”
“Just something to consider. We’ve given her a choice. Three options. Like you had,” he cocked his head to the side, his eyes rooted into my expression but his face passive, as if he were seeing right through me, “for your sake, I hope she doesn’t mess it up.”
Corin isn’t analytical like me. She doesn’t make decisions, she makes demonstrations. Henrik knew that. That's why they keep their beady eyes on individuals like my sister. To maintain the system. No outlaws allowed.
I rested my elbows on the table, tilting my bare wrist forwards so he had maximum viewage. No name. No control. No power over me. He bit his tongue.
“Don’t. Please don’t let her do this to herself.” I leaned in so we were eye to eye. “Don't give her a choice, snuff her memory.”
“Why should I let you decide the fate of your sister? Where's the benefit in that for me?” A pair of thin lips slowly pressed into a sly victorious smirk. He had the upper hand.
“Just… please.” I winced and then recoiled, realizing how feeble my voice sounded.
Licking his lips he popped open the lid of the case, his fingertips hovering over the sharp corners of the paper stacks he had strewn in there absentmindedly. “It's too late anyways. She’s already decided.”
“What d-do you mean already decided?” My voice faltered.
“She chose Colton.”
My head sunk into the heels of my palms, I threaded my fingertips into my hair and inwardly wailed. They’d have something on her now. Something on her for the rest of her miserable life.
“Take her ex-carpinomen on and I’ll not bother her anymore.” A voice, the voice I’d alienated from myself resonated from across the desk.
“Lies!” I spat at him. To the day she dies they’d never relinquish their power over her.
“I’ll give you my word that I’ll leave you and your family alone if you agree.”
Fingers latched around my wrist, pressing into the puckered edges of the scars that ornamented them. “You can’t be telling me that you’re not scared of dying alone can you Jacinta? Scared of watching everyone you know finding their carpinomen, living out their anima-vinculum, having kids and growing old whilst you run solo until you eventually run out of steam and die alone and unwanted? Is that what you want Jacinta?”
A single bead of salty H2O calmly slid down one cheek, running off my chin and dampening the edge of my shirt. “Change the name back, block out her memory. Please.”
“Couldn’t, even if I wanted to.” He shook his head with mock sympathy, his teeth flashing in the darkened room like a broken flashlight. “The skin wouldn’t be able to take it. Just gets to be one big bloody mess, you of all people should know. You can only change the name once. No returns policy.” He grunt sneered at the last part.
“Y-your plan is at fault,” I whispered, “his wrist will still have ‘Corin’ tattooed on it, not Jacinta.”
“Easy. We’ll change it.”
“Gone.” Henrik impatiently uttered. “You think we haven’t entirely thought this out? We’re well prepared Jacinta. We always have backups.” He eyes darted to my wrist and my tummy lurched.
“That’s what I am? A backup?”
“We don’t like to have loose strings. Your wrist… it makes the government…” He traced the edge of the table with his index finger, “uncomfortable.”
He tossed the contracts out in front of me then. Simultaneously my wrist dived almost completely of its own accord towards the pen he then held out in his wrinkled fingertips.
My gut instinct told me to sign, clenching and unclenching in anguish. My heart told me to sign too, threatening to launch itself out of my chest and make a mess of my top if I didn’t. My brain, the more analytical side of me however faltered, the electrical impulse floundering on the edge of a neuron before eventually giving in and launching itself across the synapse, making perhaps one of most key decisive neurological connections in the whole of my life. Yes.
Yes, yes, yes!
No, n-no, no…
I'd given in. My fingers latched themselves around the pen and directed the tip to the page. It felt as if all the blood in my body had accumulated in that one spot. My head spun and my limbs ached from lack of oxygen in turn.
The idea of dictating my sister’s life was a bit harsh- but I assured myself it was the right decision. After all, over the past few years she's proved herself to not be the best decision maker in world. Serial dating her own little delusionary concept of sedition, leading on a fake carpinomen, finding fault in everyone that crossed her path and abhorring me? Some would call her foolish, others, ignorant. Me? Disruptive. She likes prove a point and doesn't care who gets hurt in the process.
Over the years I've come to realise just how Corin ticks. She's stranded in a bubble of her own fabrication –excluded from what we call the ‘real’ world. And she does all this because she’s scared. Scared of what the big bad world will do to her if they find out that she doesn’t want to be found.
Me on the other hand, I’m a people person or at least I used to be. I think that I could of put up a bit more of a fight against Henrik if I'd really wanted –but all the strength and defiance I possessed appeared to evaporate from my pours with one dramatic gush. It seemed almost artificial and preplanned. Like I'd made up my own excuse in order to accept his offer. I didn't want to be alone. Perhaps it was only my brain box trying to please my arduous conscience with delusional scenarios.
Even so, it felt as if I was still doing her a favour. Like Mr Henrik Walcott had said about Colton being a lot more popular a name than Zaiden -even if she didn't stick with him the likelihood for her that she'd find another baring her signature was high. I mean come on, there's approximately 7.125 billion people scampering around out there. There’s gotta be someone baring the name Colton with Corin on their wrist.
When I really thought about it, it was only then fair that I too should have one of those 7.125 billion people to wrap my arms around and squeeze the living daylights out of when I was upset or tired with the world. I too needed someone who could make my heart press up against my rib cage, air wush out of my lungs and my forehead sweat. Someone I couldn't help but love. Since Brett everything has just gone downhill.
I wanted a fresh start, damn the consequences.