Fourteen

Alex is living in a world where once you turn fourteen you must leave your family and join The Project which is the result of The Rule. From the day a child turns fourteen to the day they turn eighteen they must go through a number of tests which will eventually bring them to the final one. The test which will determine their role. The role which will be theirs for the rest of their lives. There are no decisions. No choices. Just the final test which will lead them to their destinies.

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1. Chapter One

Chapter One
Laying in bed I heard my door creak open and five seconds laters I felt a body crawl in and lay next to mine.
'Are you awake, Alex?' My little brother Toby whispered softy.
'Yes' I replied, rolling over to face him.
'I don't want you to go' He said sadly.
'It's going to be okay sweetie, I promise. You'll be okay. Mum and dad will still be here and you'll still have your friends and everyone.'
'I might have them but I won't have you, Alex. If I don't have my big sister then I'm just a little boy...' He trailed off.
'You are a very loved little boy, Toby. Mum and dad love you and your doing well at school. You have lots of friends and you are a happy bubbly kid. Please don't let me leaving change you. Please don't let it change your life. The rule is set for a reason and it is my time to follow it. Your time will come and then you'll find out your purpose as well but for now you just have to be a kid and enjoy your life. Okay?'
'But it's not fair...'
'It might not be fair but that's just the way life works. I know that you are too young to understand any of this. I don't really understand it myself right now but I will soon and so will you' I tried to explain. But really, how could I explain any of this to him? He is only eight years old.
Sure, he knows about the rule like everyone else does but to a child of his age all it means is someone wants to take his big sister away from him. And he is right. It isn't fair. How can anyone say that it is fair to take someone's daughter, son, brother or sister away from them? It is cruelty in it's highest form. I do understand though. We have to go so we can truely understand who we are and what our future purpose is. My mother found that her purpose was to be a mother. That was her highest purpose. To be a mother. She was highly maternal and very nurturing. Her secondary purpose was to be a carer. In six years when it becomes Toby's time she will choose between caring for the elderly and caring for children at the orphanage. I suspect she will choose the elderly as if she works at the orphanage she may be reminded of us too much. My father found that his purpose was to help and heal and is at the top of his career as a doctor at the hospital. Because of his responsibilities as a father he does not work weekend shifts but once Toby leaves will have the opportunity to develop medical solutions when he is away from the hospital. It was never mandatory that he had a child which is why unlike my mother he went straight into work only being with his children on the weekends. He had to take the responsibility at these times as the rule was always clear that unless under extreme circumstances the biological father would always father his children for safety, sanity and love in their upbringing and their futures. There's apparently thousands of rules that we do not yet know. And some we never will if they are not relevant to our future roles.
The next morning I woke up beside my brother and gently shook him awake. He wrapped his arms around me and I hugged him back.
We walked into the kitchen together hand in hand in anticipation of my unavoidable departure.
My mum stood by our big round oak dining table with tears in her eyes. On the table lay a stack of pancakes with a bottle of syrup and a bowl of sliced bananas - she had prepared my favourite breakfast.
'Happy birthday, Alex' said said, wrapping me in a long, tight hug.
'Thank you, mum' I smiled as I hugged her back.
We all sat down at the table and my father said,
'The tradition is that during the breakfast of the morning of the child's fourteenth birthday each family member must preform a small speech wishing luck for the future and sharing love of the family. The father is to go first, then the mother followed by any siblings in age order. So I shall begin.'
My father did not look sad that I was to leave later in the day but then I did not expect him to. He was the kind of man who cared for people but in a totally un-personal way. He cared for his patients in the hope that the treatment would work. If it did he would be happy for their survival and if it did not he would hope for further research to help in the future. It was about the procedures not the people. It was the same with his family. He cared for our mother and would always be there to help if he could but he was not affectionate in the way of kissing and cuddling. I suspect the only reason that me and my brother were born was because he respected the system so much that he could not think of anything worse then not helping my mother fulfil her role. When it came to his children he took the responsibility that he was there to protect and care for us but other than making sure we were fed and clothed there was no cuddles and affection. To him, play was a waste of time. So I was prepared for a speech that acknowledged me as his daughter and gave me the encouragement to trust in the programme and the rule and to look forward to my future role.
'Alexia, I am proud to have brought you into the world because I know that whatever your role turns out to be it will be needed by someone, somewhere in this world. The next four years will be a time for you to grow into a woman that will go on to serve a purpose in this world that will satisfy the needs of you and others around you. No matter what role you are anointed I want you to know that it is what you were made for and that with it the world will grow along with you.'
'Thanks, dad' I said smiling sweetly. I mean, come on. I know that having a child wasn't apart of his job description or whatever but how can it actually be possible to not show the slightest amount of sadness at facing the fact that your child will be leaving after fourteen years? Even if it is important for me to serve my purpose or role that I will soon find out would you not be the slightest bit sad that you may never even see your daughter again depending where she ends up? It seems so heartless but I know it's not. Not really. You see, my father is one of the ones that they long for us all to be. The ones that can literally conform to one purpose in life and stick to it never thinking of anything else. It's like they just think well if that's what the test says then that's the truth. I won't argue. I'll just conform. I'm not so sure that will happen with me. I hope not anyways. I'd like to have at least a secondary purpose like my mum. I just want a choice. It's my life. Why don't I get to choose how I live it?
'Alex, you are my daughter and I love you so much! I don't know how I am going to cope with you gone. Everything will be so different. I knew ever since I was about Toby's age that I wanted to be a mother. Even before I knew about these tests. I didn't need any test to tell me what I was destined for. It was nice, really. It was like I had already chosen my own fate. And when you were born it really did make me know that I was right all along. Holding you in my arms for the first time was the most magical feeling in the world. Watching you grow up has been far more wonderful than I could have ever imagined. And then having Toby when you were eight years old and seeing you being the kindest, sweetest and caring sister imaginable really showed me that you are going to have a bright future. Being kind and caring to people will get you very far in most aspects of life. I just hope that their final decision will give you the happiness that it has given me and although these next four years are destined to shape your future try to have fun as well because you will make some great friends among all those people that you will meet. I love you so much Alex. I just want you to enjoy your life and live it to the fullest! I want you to be happy and content and never regret your choices because they are apart of who you are! I hope that I will see you again in the future so that we can catch up and I can see what you become.' My mum said tears trailing down her cheeks.
'Oh, mum! I love you too! I'm going to miss you so much!' I said as I got up to hug her tears filling my eyes. We sat back down ready for Toby's speech.
'I, um... I got told about this speech thing and dad said I should prepare but mum said to just speak from my heart. Well, I did a little of both. I planned that I would tell you that I love you because that's from my heart. I guess I just want to say that I don't want you to go, Alex. Your my big sister and I love you so I'm going to miss you. I have friends that have sisters who aren't half as nice as them than you are to me. I see you as my best friend as well as my big sister. I know you have to go though. I don't really understand why but I do know that it's for your future and I know you'll have a great one because your a great person and I love you!' My little brother said before bursting into tears.
I stood up and wrapped my little brother in a big hug. My mum has done this before. She knows that it's the rule. She probably knows why. So although she's upset she understands. But Toby is just a kid. He doesn't understand but I can tell that he is trying his hardest. It's too much for him to deal with and it's not fair.
'I love you too Toby. I will miss you but you have to be strong for me. Okay?' I said, tears streaming down my own cheeks.
'Okay' he sobbed, squeezing me tighter.
After the extremely emotional breakfast I went to the park with my mum and Toby. Doing anything too big would have been too much as we just wanted to pretend that it was a normal day. Well, we could have had a party I suppose as it was my birthday but I don't think any of us were in a celebratory mood. After playing around in the park for about an hour we went back home. We looked through some photo albums tearfully and made sure that all the stuff I was taking was packed and ready to go. It was now half past three and I was due to be picked up at four. My mum presented me with a cake and I blew out the candles wishing that I would see them again someday. My mum gave me a locket that had a recent picture of me and my mum and me and Toby in. My dad had never taken pictures with us. Just of us. It didn't matter anyways. My mum put the locket around my next and it smiled a tearful smile knowing I could take them with me. Toby gave me a card with a picture he had drawn of us in and I knew I would treasure both items. We ate some cake and then there was a knock at the door.
A woman in a grey dress-suit stood at the door and smiled gently at us.
'Are you ready to go Alexia?' She said sweetly like she was taking me on an elaborate holiday or something.
My dad shook my hand - yes he shook my hand - and said goodbye.
My mum kissed my cheek and hugged me and said she loved me and would miss me.
Toby hugged me and said he loved me and would miss me too.
I told them that I love them too and that I would miss them so much before getting into the back of the woman's car after she had put my suitcases in.
As the car drove away I waved goodbye to my family, tears streaming down my face. I saw my mother and brother were crying too whilst holding hands and waving to me.
My new life was about to start but I would never forget the love I had been given from the two most important people in my life.

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