"Celestine Melete de Saronata!" Comes my mother's voice from downstairs in our kitchen on my seventeenth birthday. Scaring me out of bed and onto the floor.
"Seriously, mother?" I yell, knowing without a doubt referring to her as mother would annoy her. "I know this is how you've woken me up every birthday but why so much louder this year?"
As I stand up and go to grad my hairbrush to tame the rat's nest on top of my head my mom's footsteps sound on the staircase and she is soon in my doorway.
She walks over and takes my brush, motioning for me to sit on the bed so she can wrestle my hair into submission. "I was louder this year because this is the first birthday you've had without your brother here," her nervous reply comes in a soothing tone.
My good mood evaporates instantly. When she finishes with my hair I glance down and realize with an internal groan my drawings and writings are still laying out from last night.
"Um, mama?" I say, scrambling for an excuse to get her out of my room, "Do you smell something burning?"
Quick as a flash I am abandoned by my mom in favor of her cooking as she cries, "Not the chorizo!"
I allow myself a quick chuckle before working fast to gather my things and hide them among the last years worth of drawings and writings.
I sigh as I stare at them all, hating that I have these abilities and have to hide them. Loathing that if it was known I had these abilities I'd be sent to what equivocates to concentration camps. No telling which one because there is one in every city across the world. The "Institutions" are where they send Inspireds, people like me who have varying abilities that stem from our creativity levels. We're tested at birth and if there are any signs we are closely monitored until the skill manifests. There's no certain age, usually it just happens. Most get taken to an Institution and if you don't submit to the government desires you're tortured, or as they like to say persuaded with varying methods.
My brother, Dean, was almost sent there last year, right after my birthday. The Erasers tried to take him but his skill was powerful enough that the group of Inspireds known as Creators saved him.
He told me about them at night after mom fell asleep. He'd sneak into my room and spin tales about a group of people who valued our talents, people who wouldn't treat us like outcasts. He'd been diagnosed at birth and with his skill starting to manifest at 18, the day he was almost take it was staged to seem like Erasers were taking him.
This is how they always do it," he told me the night before he left. We sat in the dark of my room as he explained what would happen the next day.
"Will they take me too?" I asked nervously. Dean had told the Creators about how my skill, well skills, were different and how I'd managed to not be detected at birth.
"Not until you're ready Celeste," Dean said. He looked conflicted before handing me what seemed to be a small transmitter. "Once you are ready, you hit the button on this. It will send a message to the Creators at their base and a team of them, including me, will come to take you. But only when you're ready."
That was the last time I saw Dean. I move items around in my trunk until I find the little transmitter he gave me. I've looked at it many times in the past year contemplating when. I've finally decided today, of all days, must be the day. I feel awful for my mom as I press the button before shoving it into my pocket, locking my trunk, and heading downstairs to eat one last meal with my mom.
She is, of course, very animated through breakfast. Asking me what my plans are for today, talking about what she'll be doing at work. I think about how much I love her and how happy I am it is summer so I got a little more time with her because there was no school.
Then, the knock at the door finally comes.
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