Thursday, August 8, 2013

The School

Dan 1264 rose up with the morning claxton. He removed the sparse traces of hair from his young face and made sure his hair was regulation length and properly arranged. He knew from hard experience that any unnecessary individuality would be swiftly punished.

As he poured out with the other students to the parade field for roll call, he accidentally passed too close to Alex 4819. He had to work hard not to stare, as her standard issue coverall had begun to fill out in ways he found hard not to notice. But he managed to fall in with less unnerving company as they assembled before the main building, where the state motto, "All Persons Are Constituted Equal," was emblazoned in stone.

After the standard patriotic ceremonies, the principal rose from her seat with a scowl on her face. "Jon 7429, Bert 3021 and Alex 4819, front and center," she snapped.

She started with Jon 7429, "Young person, the equations on your math paper are two levels above your age, in violation of the principle of equality. Can you explain that?"

"I was trying to impress Alex 4819," he sputtered. "Bert was showing off how strong he was, and I wanted to show I could do something."

The principal turned to Bert, "Is this true?"

"Y-y-yes, principal," he stammered.

"Did you encourage this?" barked the principal at Alex.

"N-n-no, principal," she denied.

"Jon and Bert, you are sentenced to two months of reeducation," stated the principal. "As for Alex, I will take your word for it this time, but if I find out you encourage this type of behavior, you are in serious trouble." It was not said, but neither of these young men would ever be able to form any kind of sanctioned union with Alex 4819. And Dan wondered if Alex had any chance of growing up without getting in serious trouble.

Dan was glad the first class was history. When he was drowsy, he had a hard time maintaining equality in mathematics. They were learning of the evil Imperialistic Period when the Europeans conquered the world in the name of something called "Christianity." He was not sure what this was, except that it held to the superiority of some people, especially Europeans, over others. But while he was convinced these people were evil, he wondered what it would be like to get on a ship and sail to where no one had been before. He also wondered what it would be like to believe in something so strongly you were willing to fight and die for it. His own life seemed drab by comparison.

After morning classes he hurried to meet Paul 4389 in their usual place. He had known Paul since childhood and considered her a special friend. She did not have the maturity of Alex 4819, but she was easy to talk to. He had even wondered if they might contract some kind of sanctioned union when they were older. But he dared not mention such a thing for fear of getting in trouble.

As he approached, he saw Paul 4389, but she was flanked by two teachers. "It has come to our attention," said the foremost teacher, "that you and Paul 4389 have been spending an unhealthy amount of time together."

"I'm sorry, Dan," whimpered Paul 4389, "but I had to tell them."

Six months later Dan 1264 studiously avoided Paul 4389. That was over, anyway. He was sure he was a better citizen and a better person for having undergone reeducation. So why did he feel like something valuable had been taken from him?    

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