Today is the day that I’m finally turning 18. In the next month, working would be one of the things I should do no matter what.
Once in 3 years, the higher castes, The Highest, or The Royal Family, The Officials and The Famous, are searching for servants and guards for their family. And, soldiers is searched by the king to defend our country. We called this event The Choosing.
Every people in the fourth caste, The Servant, in the age between 18 until 26 is required to signed themselves to The Choosing. If they didn’t and got caught, they would be stripped of their caste and be the lowest of the five caste, The Lowest. For people above the age range, they can still go to work, but they don’t have to. But most people still work to feed their own family.
In the palace, lots of servant needed there, so lots of us chosen to work there. But, the worst thing if we get chosen to work at the palace is, we can’t go out of the palace without the king’s permission. Even though it’s just having a visit to our family.
And the king won’t give permission easily to loads of worker there, he would just give it to some people. Some lucky people. And we work there as long as the palace needs you. The shortest time I know is 3 years.
You can’t choose between work at the palace or other places or what you want to be, they just chooses you.
The Royal family, they are the first one who get the right to choose their servants. And then, The Officials is the next caste to choose. And the last one is The Famous.
For the people who’s not chosen to be a servants, guards, or even soldier, they don’t work until the next three years. And they have to submit their information again in the next Choosing.
“Anne, I’m leaving now, I’m already late!” Mom shouted from downstairs, some hastiness hinted in her voice.
She must be really afraid to be late. She is already late, I afraid. She usually gone to work at six. But now, the clock already showing 6.25, that mean she’s already late for her work.
“Okay, mom.” I shouted back and hurriedly descended the stairs, jogged to the room she’s in. My eyes caught her within a second. She hurriedly get her things and put them into her bag as she kneeling on the floor. Her sandy blonde hair covered her face as she keeps getting her things packed into her bag.
And sometimes, her stuff fell to the floor, and she pick it up hurriedly and put it into her bags again. I walk closer to her, decided to help her with her things. But I already too late. She already stand on her feet as I get closer to her.
I wish I can help her now. But, what can I do? I haven’t legally allowed to go to work. Not until next month.
“Take care of your brother and sister, okay?” She cupped my left cheek with her soft hand as her blue eyes stares into mine, smiling softly. A smile tugged at the corner of my lips, as I stared back into her eyes.
“Oh, and happy birthday, Anne.” She hug me quickly and steps back, smiling as she hold my upper arm gently and squeeze it lightly.
She let go of me, turning around quickly and run towards the front door. Few seconds later, she suddenly stop, turning her body around and look at me.
“Oh, dad is out to buy some groceries. Don’t worry about him. He’ll be back at noon.”
She give me one last smile and disappear behind the front door.
A Famous house, that’s the place she works at now as one of the maid there. She already worked there for 3 years. The family is The Headley, one of the musician family in my hometown. And Samantha Headley is one of the famous singer in this country. Sometimes, her songs can be heard through the radio.
Now, all I can think about is her, I’m afraid that she might get punished for getting late. Or even worst, get fired. But my thought brought me to what she has told before. She once said that The Headley is one of the kindest family she ever met. Maybe, she’s not going to be punished at all.
I climb up the stairs, almost jogging, and went to my siblings room. I put my hand on the handle, pushing the door open quietly as I take a peek through the gap between the door.
On their bed, figures of them sleeping peacefully can be seen as soft snores came out from their mouth, mostly Sam’s. I keep looking at the view in front of me, until my lips curved upwards out of nowhere.
They look so cute when sleeping.
I close the door gently and go back downstairs. I make my way to the kitchen and begin to cook.
I keep myself on walking to my siblings’ room. From outside their room, muffled voice can be heard. They keep talking to each other, until giggles can be heard a few times.
I push the door open quickly and they stop talking instantly, looking at me with a little shock on their morning faces. They quickly jump off of their bed and run toward me, attacking me with hugs.
“Happy birthday, Anne.” Luna said, her arms wraps around me lightly.
“Thank you, Luna, Sam.” We let go of each other, smiles lays on our faces as we stare back at each other. She turns around and walk toward the wardrobe and open it, grabbing something from there. She turns around, a smile still plastered onto her face and my eyes fixed at the thing in her hands.
A flower crown.
“Anne, I’m sorry I can’t give you anything but this.” She walks to me and hold out her hand, giving me the beautiful flower crown. I take it, my eyes still trained on it, admiring every piece of flower she chose for this flower crown.
This is so beautiful.
“Don’t be sorry. This is beautiful. You don’t really have to give me anything.” Smile still has it place on my face as I look at her and back at the flower, still admiring it.
“I just want to give you something."
I look up from the flower crown in my hands and smile again at her. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Anne.”
“Come on, let’s go eat breakfast.” A wide smile forms quickly on my face and giggles comes out from them.
I keep on munching my own breakfast, enjoying every bit of it, when suddenly, Sam’s little mouth let out the words that I haven’t heard in awhile.
“I miss Jake.” I averted my eyes from my breakfast quick, stopping myself from munching the food in my mouth and my hand stop moving, freeze on my seat as I feel those words hit the fragile part of my heart.
I gazed at him, sadness filling my heart. My eyes caught him staring at his own breakfast, a frown can be seen vaguely from where I’m sitting. Beside him, Luna’s brown eyes already fixed on her lap with sadness swept across her face when I take a glance at her.
My heart plummeted at the look of their faces. I suck in a deep breath as I press my lips together into a thin line, holding back my tears from falling down.
“I know, Sam. I miss him, too.”
When all of our breakfast already gone into our stomachs, I grabbed the empty dishes, washing those as both of my siblings walked upstairs to their room, heads hanging low in sadness.
I wish I can wipe off the sadness on their faces. But I can’t. Because I can’t bring Jake back from the war. He still have to do his job.
Last plate and I’m finally done!
After putting the plates into their places, I dry my hand with a cloth. My feet brings me out of my house, decided to go to the lake. I keep walking casually to the lake, humming quietly to myself as I take step by step away from the house.
It’s seems so peaceful here, like there’s no war going on. Like the caste doesn’t even exist.
30 years ago, a war happen between New Europe, a unity of all the country in Europe continent, and America State of Canada. It all started when America State of Canada, declared a war to us, New Europe, to take Greenland from us.
I don’t know what makes them, America State of Canada, trying to took Greenland from us. Well, it make sense because Greenland is one of the most influential region in New Europe. Once.
Now, Greenland is just a ruined land because it’s used for both countries to hold on war. Shot bullets to one another, throwing grenades, hurting each other to win the once great influential Greenland. But I guess that’s not what the reason the war held for now. Maybe both side trying to take one another land.
I make my way to a tree trunk that lies on the ground lifelessly near the lake and perch down on it. I keep on watching the lake with my chin propped on my hand while the wind blows calmly at me. Until thoughts take me away with them.
Maybe, this month would be the last time I’m going to be here. Maybe, started from next month I’m not going to see my family again. Ever.
Sadness coursing inside my body, my heart is the one that ache the most. Ache because of the thought of not seeing my family ever again.
I blink my eyes as my vision got blurry from the tears in my eyes. And tears fell down quickly from my eyes. I shut my eyes tightly and purse my lips, trying to stop the tears from falling down even more. But what I do only make me spill a lot more tears from my eyes.
A cracking sound of branch being stepped on makes me jump a little on my seat. I wipe away all the remaining tears on my cheeks hurriedly, feeling a little embarrassed by the thought of someone knowing me crying.
“I’m Connor.” He replied, and sounds strangely calm. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine! Just go away!” I shut my watery eyes, praying to god that he would make him-Connor- go away in any second from now. I can't let him sees me like this, look so vulnerable when I actually am not.
God, please make him leave, please.
“Don’t lie, I know you’re crying over there.” He contradicted.
Ugh, stubborn one, aren’t you?
“Just leave me alone.” I feel his presence right beside me, his height towering over me who's sitting down on a tree trunk. I can feel his gaze bore into me though my eyes fixed on the peaceful lake in front of me.
“I’m not going to leave you alone. Why are you even crying?” His eyes still staring right at me, and I just keep sitting there, my eyes avoiding to make any contact with his.
“Let me guess, The Choosing problem?” My face shoots up from the mentioning of 'the choosing'. I gaze fixated at him with bewilderment inside my chest.
How did he know?
“How did you know?” Those words came out of my mouth and suddenly realization hits my mind and make me think of how foolish am I. My head falls and I close my eyes for a moment, internally face-palming myself as the thoughts keep themselves remains in my head and make me feels even more stupid.
Why am I so dumb and idiotic? It’s so obvious that he knew it because he must be chosen this year too, just like me.
“This year, I’m being chosen too.” I open my eyes and lift my face up, looking at him. His head hang low as he stares down at the dirt ground with a hint sorrow covered his face.
“In the last Choosing, I didn’t get chosen. So, I have to go in this year Choosing.” His gaze still glued onto the ground.
“Oh.” Is the only thing I could said.
In all of a sudden, sadness filled my heart again at the thought him felling sad. Even though I am one of the people who will get chosen too, I don’t want anyone else feel sad about it, too.
I look down at my clasped hands, a pout already has it ways to my face and stay there as I keep staring at my hands.
A sigh comes out from Connor as he lowers his body and take a seat next to me. “Why are you here? Alone?”
“It’s nothing. Just relaxing.” I do a little shrug and bring my eyes back to look at the lake.
“What’s your name?” The silence that was stretched between us for a long time broken by him with the simple question. I averted my gaze from the lake and stop at his face. A smile already showing on his face as I look at him. I quickly return his soft smile.
“I’m Anne.” I keep staring at his face, taking in all of his features. His eyes is a light shade of brown, his hair is short hair is wavy, almost curly. And the thought of Jake comes into my head.
He looks alike like Jake.
The name of the person I miss the most make me bow my head in sadness. Even just think about him makes my heart ache. It's been a long time since the first day he goes to the war, and ever since that time, he hasn't sent any letter to us which make me even more hurt.
“Are you okay? Why are you look so sad in all of a sudden?” I keep looking down at my hands, tears bites the corner of my eyes, threatening to fall anytime I blink my eyes. I feel Connor's gaze at me, and I keep avoiding it.
“It’s just- you reminded me of my brother.” I confessed, intended it to come out from me loud enough, but it only came out from me as a whisper.
Why am I just remember?
I jump to my feet hurriedly, patting my trouser to get rid of any dust and dirt on it. The thoughts of my siblings now invades my mind, making me worried of them and curse myself at how foolish I am to left the house without even thinking about them. Even though Luna is already old enough to watch and take care of Sam by herself, she don't want anyone else just to leave her without telling.
“Sorry, I have to go.” I flash him a little smile and turn around and begin to jog out of the vacant woods. I move my feet, the leafs and branches stepped by me making a cracking sounds.
“Where are you going?” His shouts cut through the quiet woods. His sounds fills with worry. But I keep moving my feet further away from him and shout back at him.