Chapter 10 - Isolde
I stare at the newspaper in my hands, which are trembling with horror. The writing begins to blend with the ivory paper; soon I am left gazing at complete and total fuzzy greyness, but the words have been fully imprinted into my mind.
A sob lets itself out of me, and a rush of sobs come to accompany it.
Without thinking, I flee the room. For the first time since the news, I go to the forest.
And I run. Not jog. Not walk. I flat out sprint, tears badly impairing my vision. Eventually, of course, I trip over something, and tumble down onto the forest floor, leaves crunching beneath my body. I don’t get up, but curl into a ball and cry.
I can’t do it. I can’t. All those poor people . . . seeing the names make it so real. The families that mourn, the friends that despair . . .
I’m not the Antithetical that killed – I shudder into the earth at the word – those people, but it feels like their deaths are my fault. I can’t shake off the overwhelming guilt that has me wishing to just die.
My mother believes in reincarnation: when we die, we will be born again, with no memories of our past lives. A fresh sheet. I never really believed it – all myths and legends, in my opinion – but now I really want it to be true. So long as I’m not born as an Antithetical again.
I join my fingers together and squeeze. It doesn’t help.
I think about the horrible reputation the Antithetical have. I’m a naturally suspicious person – I don’t believe much without proof. But sometimes I can just feel, deep down, if something is true or false. This made me disagree with the Radii and the majority of the people of the Circle. How can it be possible for every single Antithetical to be cold-hearted?
We are taught that too much of things change who we are, most often for the worse. The Antithetical, they say, have all become corrupt due to the extra abilities they all have. The deaths and misconduct committed by the Antithetical supposedly shows the truth in their words. But what about the ones like my father and I? Who never knew until a certain age? Who do things they wished they couldn’t do?
Before, I didn’t really have any rock-solid proof apart from my conscience telling me that we all have a potential for good, just as we have a potential for bad. Events can shape us into bitter people who want to put their pain and sadness onto other people, to relieve themselves of the anguish, just a little bit. But we can be restored, made into better people. Isn’t that the point of having our RepAnt? Yet Antithetical are sent straight to Confinement, if they are not killed first.
The fate awaiting me.
I tell myself that some point, I’m going to have to get up and endure.
Repeating the word over in my mind, I tell myself to get up, but I don’t want to get up. I want to wait until unconsciousness takes over me.
The word sticks. It spins over and over in my mind. I am sick of it. I am absolutely sick of it.
I lift myself from the ground with a surprising amount of effort – my limbs feel extremely unsteady and stiff. How long have I been here?
It doesn’t take much time for me to notice the darkness surrounding me, and answer my own question: I have been here much, much longer than I thought.
I realise that I’m still clutching the newspaper in a tight fist. I release it, and it lands in a bed of amber leaves. I stretch out my aching fingers, which I can barely feel, and start moving home.
It’s true. I have been a coward. I should grit my teeth and tough it out, not spend my time crying. I will be brave, now. I will. I have to.