“Survival of the Chosen, 14”

by Brianna G. Harte

However, my mouth did not open, with the exception of a grunt once the overseers were out of earshot. The next day would certainly be one I would have liked to avoid altogether. Of course, I could not have been lucky enough to do so.

When the sun rolled high in the sky again, the line was formed across the dirt as usual, with me hiding among the others. Seeing as the overseers were not keen on knowing our names, I had hope that no one would care. None of my friends said a word, though many of them developed scrunched eyebrows.

The time came for roll call. They almost completed it too. Maybe their frustration from yesterday was triggered by seeing us at all, simply numbers to them, not even potential kids. Perhaps they spotted me, an extra to the formation. The overseer ran to another, and I withdrew a breath. He was the one who called out on me yesterday. The one who condemned me to work within the mountain today. If only I could be so lucky as to have him on break as numbers were rattled off.

Striding with a piercing appearance of frustration, his presence doubled in size. “Number 18!”

The other kids wouldn’t look at me.

His face came uncomfortably close to mine. “Are you deaf, number 18?”

“No.”

“Then answer me!”

“You didn’t ask a question,” I noted, trying to cloak fear with smugness.

The overseer’s eye twitched. “You trying to be smart with me, 18? Don’t bother. You know very well that I sent you to the mountain for today for your behavior yesterday. If you don’t want it to become far harder, I suggest you shut your mouth and hustle over.”

Words to retort wouldn’t form. With nothing to say and confidence failing me, I ran off toward the mountain that stood tall over the trees surrounding our community. Before the people in shining, unwrinkled attire came, the sight was a marvel. Healthy trees of green would decorate the sides and be home to the little creatures of the forest. Uneven rocks of varying sizes scattered all around, having no significant pattern to accompany their presences. As you climbed to the top, fresh winds carrying the aromas of the leaves and flowers would caress the noses of adventurers of our community. It would strengthen with ascent, allowing us to breathe in serenity.

Now, all sides of the enormous mountain were desolate. Claiming that the trees would be abundant sources of firewood, the overseers had our parents fell them with shock squeezing their hearts. Believing that the mountains contained rich caverns of minerals within their cores, the project of excavating its inner sanctums began per their orders. Heaps of dirt and ashen grey material, whatever it was, lay beside the large entrance to the center of the mountain.

As I touched the tunnel, an understanding of the disrespect thrust upon nature resonated with me. Unfortunately, I had no choice. Not with the muscular man with a weapon at his side watching.

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

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