Jesse had been in charge of his father’s company, owned by the Community, for a long time. He was in charge of genetics specialising in crop production. It was an important job and one that provided camouflage. For as he climbed those steps of his house to the greenhouse above, the plants prevented communications from being able to get through properly. He walked into the stuffy air of freedom, admiring the way the sunlight refracted in the glass roof.
He went over to the panelling where the vines grew more thinly and placed the fresh glass of Daily Nutrition down. He teased the vines apart feeling the rubbery texture in his hands. A square section of metal panelling was revealed. He reached his hand around to feel the slight indent where his fingers slipped in and he pushed it to the side. He was met with some resistance until it gave way revealing a small room.
Jesse balanced the glass in his hand as he dropped down to the floor.
“I brought you Daily Nutrition,” Jesse said.
The woman turned. He tried to keep the shock from registering on his face but it was too late, her saddened expression told him that.
She walked over to him and took the glass.
“Thanks,” she said,
“That’s alright Nina.” Jesse saw the bones of her shoulders jutting out painfully, the red hair had faded in brightness and was cut extremely short.
She sipped the drink slowly, watching Jesse with her blue eyes, the pupil of the right eye was permanently dilated. Her eye was never like that before but the light scar wrapped around it wasn’t there before either.
“Never took you for a rebel, you’re not bad either,” she said in a forced light-hearted tone, an uneven smile appeared on her face.
“There have been no reportings and no unusual activity to suggest that the Community suspects any rebel activity,” Jesse said, grinding his teeth nervously.
“I’m surprised you still have any teeth left with that nervous habit.” She tipped the empty glass in his direction. “You don’t have to protect me, I am the rebel’s property afterall and they can move me to another location. Did you know that I am meant to save the world according to them, I think they are dreamers, the lot of them.” She rolled her eyes.
“I guess there has to be dreamers or there wouldn’t be a rebellion.”
Nina handed the glass back to him shaking her head. “You can be too serious Jesse.”
“How can you not be serious?” Jesse demanded. She was startled by the harshness in his voice. “I am rebelling against the Community by hiding you here, you have changed, don’t laugh but we were childhood sweethearts, and I had to save you from that place.” Stress made every muscle in his body taunt.
“Jesse everything has changed, I was changed by the Community.” She moved closer, her breath could be felt on his cheek. “Do you think there could still be something between us?”
Jesse raised his eyebrows and stepped away. “No I have a wife.”
Nina scowled. “One that was picked for you.”
“A wife that I care for!”
“You only like her because they choose on compatibility, of course you feel something for her, something manufactured!”
“Manufactured or not I love Meera! And I would not let you tell me otherwise.” He covered his mouth with his hand, screaming against his palm.
“I guess you still support the Community, some loyalty?” Nina said bitterly.
Jesse took his hand from his mouth seeing her upset for the first time. Of course she felt cheated.
“Nina you were gene-activated and taken away. I was matched up with Meera and we grew very close, we had a baby.” His voice choked up. “I was never there because of my work, because of the Community.”
“You believe the Community is responsible,” Nina murmured.
“Yes, so don’t you dare say I support the Community. We may never have worked out, you are angry at the Community for taking away the chance.” He sat down on the floor exhausted. “She is struggling with the grief and I’m scared someone will report her, they will take her away to the Experimental Community. I can’t allow that to happen.”
Nina sat down beside him and took hold of his hand. “You will not let that happen.”