Age 15 – 2203
Sighing, I threw the cover off of the end of my bed. Grey sheets gently brushing against my skin, I slipped my feet over the edge of the bed and felt the chill of the cold floor beneath my toes. Every morning was the same; every day was a cycle, following a set itinerary.
Get up. Eat. Train. Strategise. Work. Build. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.
In a world filled with conflict, the military needed all of the help they could get to fight their rouge sectors. It was one half of the army against the other. Both sides were heavily armed and trained but we had the larger numbers. We were the true army and those who opposed us were the enemies. After so many years at war, no-one really knew what they were fighting for anymore. We were simply soldiers, just following orders. We had tasks and jobs to do and that was all we focused on. At the age of eighteen we were all drafted into the ranks of the military and so we trained. We trained for our lives and trained for our future.
Evan had shown me a life after mine was burned to ashes and for that I was eternally grateful. After so long, the scars were beginning to heal as I built my up my life, occupying my time with work and adrenaline. After months of settling in, I had fallen into a steady routine. Working with the cadet force, I learnt how to shoot and how to build weapons for my side. Combat wasn’t my strong suit but strategy and engineering was where I really shone. My father was a mechanic and after so many hours spent watching his fingers glide over apparatus and machines until it finally complied with his wishes. But alas, that is all gone now. My heart of glass was now coated in a thick layer of steel, making me invincible and keeping me from falling apart. I lived in a world hardened by war and so had to follow.
Stepping out of my bed, I wondered if it was ever going to stop thinking about my past. A warm spark inside of my chest told me that I would not. Selectively, I only remembered the good, beautiful moments in my child hood; it was almost as if I could still smell my mother’s perfume in the air. They lived on. They lived on through me and through my memories. I had a new life now, with new friends and a new family but my old one wasn’t gone and it would never be.
“Helena? Are you coming?” Becca called from the door. Sharing a dorm was hard but it also gave us the opportunity to form bonds that not even a war could break. With only two of us in the room, we got on well. As one of the oldest in our unit, at the age of sixteen, long platted hair spiralled down her back. Eyes deep and tinted a strong shade of sea green, other than Evan she was my closest friend. Our daily programs were the same and so we ended up spending most of our time together. In a way, she reminded me of my old life but she didn’t know what had happened. She simply thought that my parents were away fighting just like hers were. She had no reason to believe otherwise.
In response to her question, I smile before walking over to our shared wardrobe and opening the door.
“You go,” I told her,” I’ll meet you there in a few minutes.” Looking through the half-empty wardrobe, my eye finally stabilised on my uniform. Lifting down my sleek black uniform, I examined the leather, noticing how worn it looked. It was as if it were a part of me that I refused to let go of.
“I’ll wait for you. Um… I have something to ask you about…” Walking away from the door and sitting at the end of her bed, I knew that she heard me mumble in response.
“Sure…” I never liked in when questions were directed at me, especially if they were anything o do with my past. Some things were better left unspoken and that was certainly one of them. But if Becca had to talk to me then it had to be important; I didn’t miss the sense of urgency in her strained tone.
Facing away from me, she gave me the privacy to get changed, leaving silence to hang in the air. Becca was too kind for warfare: I often thought that if her father wasn’t a soldier then she wouldn’t be living and training with me in a military complex. I almost wished that she wasn’t but on the other hand, I didn’t want to live without her.
Slipping into my uniform, I enjoyed surrounding me. As I pulled my hair back into a tight ponytail, I could almost sense the tension radiating over from where Becca sat. Turning back to face her, I saw the worry dancing in her coral green eyes.
“So what did you want to ask?” I queried, letting false enthusiasm seep into my voice. I made sure to let a false smile creep across my face as I pulled my jacket over my shoulders, letting my arms slip through the holes. On hearing no response, I looked up worriedly at her.
“Becca?” I repeated.
“Last night… Last night you were talking in your sleep. You were saying… You were saying some very, um, personal things. I don’t want to intrude because it is none of my business but Helena, I want you to let me help you,”
“I’m fine. Really, I’m fine.” I insisted, skilfully keeping the panic from entering my voice. The situation wasn’t irreversible, not yet anyway. There was no point in getting worked up when she didn’t know anything in particular that was wrong. I had to play it off a nightmare or a dream rather than a memory. Of all things, I didn’t want to discuss this. I wasn’t ready and I wasn’t sure if I would ever be.
“Helena, where are your parents really?” There it was, the question to which I had no answer.
Whenever she had inquired about my life before the military and my parents, I had just told her that I didn’t know where they were, which in a way was true. Evan had said that it would be best not to tell anyone and I knew that he was right; Becca would never see me in the same light. Every time that she would look at me, her eyes would be filled with sorrow and fire; I couldn’t bear to lose her too. So I lied. Lying came to me so much easier than the truth ever did. Words were a wall and a barrier protecting me from the harsh truth. If I said it out loud for long enough, I could almost believe that it was real. Almost but still not yet quite.
“Becca, you’re freaking out because I had a nightmare okay? That’s all it was. My parents are alive and are fighting for the same cause they we are. My father is risking his life on the front line and my mother is working on decrypting messages from the enemy. Whatever you think that you heard isn’t true. Okay?” I told her, keeping my voice calm but yet not deadly. After that speech, I smiled, adjusted my hair and then made my way over to the door.
“Now, is it just me or are you starving? Come on, let’s go get some breakfast.” Without waiting for a reply, I opened the door and walked out, letting a deep sigh escape from my lips. Trailing behind me, I felt a pang of guilt inside of me but I ignored it as I slowed down my pace and let Becca catch up.
This life wasn’t too bad.
Smiling as if nothing had happened, we made our way into the maze of corridors, read for another day of training.