“Survival of the Chosen, 11”

by Brianna G. Harte

The utter silence that followed triggered uneasy looks between us all, except for Johanna who found the dirt far more intriguing than a muted conversation. While stones and hammers lifted from the ground, each of us glanced at her, silently willing for a story to unfold. No matter the number of times we peered over, not a word came out. I wanted to sigh and move on. I didn’t know her too well. Though we all lived in the same family, Johanna remained somewhat of a recluse. And yet, she came closer to us, those more likely to receive more chores for the day for speaking at the level of whispers.

A couple hours of working passed by. It was then that we could look back on our projects and groan. With Drew and Herold unable to help, few sections had been added. Usually we would finish not too long after midday. Now, this was not the case. The sun descended slowly in the sky, and along with it left hope. And unfortunately, the instructors always seemed more irritable at night. There was nothing we could do to stop their shouting, calling us by number, nitpicking of our woodwork. We thoroughly expected such a frustrating treatment, especially when we realized that Johanna had been making the fences crooked. To our annoyance, it could not have been noticed much sooner because of the angle.

“Johanna!” Estan hissed. “What are you doing?”

As before, she didn’t respond. She didn’t even try to undo the damage. With an inaudible groan, Reen backtracked Johanna’s work, attempting to realign, but it was futile. Perhaps ten sections required fixing and they had more mass than she could handle on her own. Temptation to jump to her aid was there. And yet, so was the resistance, only fortified by each glance at the menacing sneers that surrounded us.

There may be only twenty or so of us, spread out across two long rows of fence, but every look seemed to be aimed at each person.

Copyright © 2016 Brianna G. Harte. All rights reserved.

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