My eyes slowly pull themselves open. Light spilled in through my blinds, onto the floor. I pull the covers over my face trying to hide from the day, from the law, from the facts.
It is my 16th birthday.
It is the day I've been dreading forever. Ever since they taught us the laws in school. I remember that day like it was yesterday.
I was sitting in class, listening intensely. I loved learning. If you gave me a book I would eat it up trying to get any new piece of knowledge I could get out of it. The teacher was telling us all about our government of R.O.C., Republic of Canen, that day, like every other. He was reviewing the strict laws that make us slaves under the government starting with the Marriage Law.
"On the day of your 16th birthday, you will marry another person of your age that will be arranged by the government." He told us eight-year-olds. I raised my hand politely, like they had taught me to do in my other classes, "Yes, Miss Tyler?"
"You mean, when I turn 16 I have to marry a boy?"
"Yes," his smile was tight, plastic, fake, as though it was the greatest thing to ever happen. I sigh and look at the boy next to me, Colby Nickel who was making weird faces with his friends. I turned forward and murmured,
"You're one to talk Jade Tyler, I would never want to be with a girl like you. No boy would," Colby said. I stood up and punched him square in the face. This landed us in the principal's office where he and I both got whippings. That night, Mama washed the blood from my dress and cleaned the open wounds on my back and hummed a sweet tune to keep me from crying due to the stinging of the soap. All the while, I could only think of what Colby said to me and how I watched his face as he suffered the same punishment as me.
"JADEY!" My little sister Sapphire jumped on me, awaking me from my memories. Trying to find my face in the covers she says, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" I tickle her making her giggle in her high pitch laughter. It's a birthday, but not a happy one; I think to myself.
"Hey Jade," Jack, my brother, says from my doorway. No one has been hurt more from the Marriage Law than Jack. He was young and in love with a girl named Ella Marie, she lived four doors down from us. But, when they turned sixteen they both were arranged to marry another person. Jack's wife, Ally was in love with another man as well but over the years, Jack and Ally have grown to love each other, however, not in the same way...
"Don't say it," I murmur just loud enough for him to hear, he tells Sapphire to go find Mama and she scurries out of the door. He sits next to me,
"It's still your birthday... you can't run from it. Happy Birthday," he kisses my forehead.
"I'm scared who they will choose for me..." I hate to admit my own fear.
"But you can't be scared... that's not an option, Jade. You got to be strong." He makes me suck it up, so I do. Getting dressed, I'm faced with the reflection of the new soon-to-be married sixteen year old, but I looked no different from yesterday. My long dark hair still fell the same way, my green eyes still the same shade, and my skin fair, no darker or lighter.
I finally saunter into the kitchen where my best friend, and only friend, Bethany gives me a hug.
"How are you?" She asks pulling back and making me face those big blue eyes. She was my best friend and I wanted to burst telling her everything but I bottle it up, knowing it would change nothing,
"Fine," is the one word answer she gets. She just nods knowing we will talk later. She hurries off to school cause she hasn't turned sixteen yet, but it's only one more week she will be able to enjoy her freedom as a 15-year-old.
Mama already has her purse and I know it's time to go when I see my bags packed by the door. Jack helps bring them out to the car, taking his time cause I know he is trying to stall my leaving. I say goodbye to Sapphire, Jack, Ally and their kids, knowing that was soon to be my future.
Mama and I drive in silence and when I see the tears form in her eyes, I know I need to be strong.
"It's not like I'm dying Mama." I try to smile at her but she stares straight ahead hissing through her teeth,
"Might as well be."
"MAMA!" I'm shocked, trying to reason with her.
"First they take my husband, then my children and force them to grow up," she parks the car in front of Rayton Town Hall and looks over at me. "You're beautiful and deserve better than how they treat you..." I hand her a tissue,
"Pull yourself together, we need to get going." She understands and nods. We go inside the Rayton Town Hall which is filled of 16 year olds and their parents, getting ready for the rest of their lives. I sit down at a table placing my hand on a scanner, "Ready?" I turn to Mama and she just nods. The computer scans my hand and makes my name appear on the screen. I take a deep breath knowing that my whole future will be determined by a computer, in disgust I turn away for a second not wanting to know, but I realize that I can't run from it, like Jack said, so I turn my face back to the screen to see Colby Nickel's name appear.
I felt everything inside me go hollow. My mother pats my hair and whispers in my ear, "it could've been worse." Two women come to escort me to a dressing room where I put on a knee-length white dress. I feel like a walking zombie, numb with the thought of my "Hubby".
The women quickly hand me flowers and bring me to an office of an official. Since many weddings happened everyday they started having quick, five-minute ceremonies in the office of anyone that can make it legal.
My palms grew sweaty as I waited anxiously for Colby to arrive. I saw him around the schools grounds and I knew how the other girls talked about him, how they hoped he would be paired up with them. But of course I, of all people, get that honor. I roll my eyes at the thought.
Looking at the clock, I realized I've been waiting for fifteen minutes, almost going to ask about his whereabouts the door clicks open and a huffing, exhausted boy stands in the doorway. He straightens his suit and walks in, brushing fingers through his blonde hair that was gelled back to look nice.
"Afternoon," He greeted me through a whisper under his breath. I refused to look at him. I refused to admire his angelic face, slightly tan skin, tall structure, or muscular figure; let alone his ocean blue eyes. "Okay then," he sighs in frustration due to me blowing him off. I drifted through the ceremony in a faze.
Once the "I do's" were said, the Official gave an envelope to Colby which probably contained a house number with keys and information about our marriage and future as a couple.
From the office to the car was a blur, facing the road of gray concrete and yellow dashes. I think Colby was talking but I wasn't sure till he said,
"You know, this is only the beginning."
Yes... Yes it was.
Comment you guys! There is more to the story than this, obviously but more about the government, about the couple, about why the marriage was short. You'll see if you stick around.
Tell me what you thought!