By Laura Schiller
Based on: Matched
Copyright: Ally Condie
"Hol den Vorschlaghammer!
Sie haben uns ein Denkmal gebaut
und jeder Vollidiot weiß, dass das die Liebe versaut.
Ich werd die schlechtesten Sprayer dieser Stadt engagieren:
sie sollen nachts noch die Trümmern mit Parolen beschmieren."
"Get the sledgehammer!
They built a monument for us
and every idiot knows how that will screw up our love.
I'm gonna hire the worst graffiti artists in the city
so they can paint slogans on our debris."
- Wir sind Helden, "Denkmal" ("Monument")
I stand by the window, brushing back the curtains, feeling the wooden floorboards on my bare feet. It is midnight, and the air is dark and cool. Looking outside, I see it – in the middle of the silent street, lit up by spotlights, surrounded by crushed flowers and confetti. The monument.
It is made of white stone, like the City Hall. It shows a girl in a dress and a boy in a tuxedo, holding a Match Banquet microcard box between them and gazing into each other's eyes. I recognize the girl's curly hair trying to escape its bun, the boy's long bangs swept across his forehead; they should be red and blonde, respectively. I recognize the dress; it should be green.
The inscription at the bottom, right underneath her high heels and his Oxfords, reads:
XANDER & CASSIA CARROW
REST IN PEACE
The broken flowers by our feet should not be there – the street cleaners in our borough are as efficient as the rest of the Society, and clutter is not permitted. Yet there they are, pink and white oldroses, daisies, forget-me-nots. Mother would cry for the waste These flowers have been trampled and discarded for our sake, for the unveiling ceremony of the monument. Neither Xander nor I has ever asked for this.
I see their faces – my face, his face – carved into matching stone smiles, motionless, eternal. Their perfection in the glare of the blue-white spotlight is intolerable.
My feet carry me out the door, out into the night. I am breaking curfew, but no one comes to stop me. A sledgehammer appears, so heavy I need both arms to wield it. I hesitate, my eyes darting right and left, but since no one is watching, I lunge for the statues and attack them like a mad thing.
I smash the microcard box first, breaking them apart. I destroy my own face, smooth and complacent as it is; the sleek folds of my dress; the dainty high heels. I destroy Xander, from the shiny bangs (his hair is never like that usually) to the bowtie (he says they choke him) to the tight, polished shoes (give him sneakers any day). And it hurts; it hurts like ripping off a bandage, like getting my wisdom teeth out, and hot tears are streaming down my face. I'm on the receiving end of the hammer as well; I am the girl in the statue, and my stone shell is being chipped away as if by a fierce, determined artisan. (Is this how Michelangelo felt, the creator of Sculpture Number 17?)
By the time I'm done, I am soaked in sweat and my arms are shaking. I drop the hammer and step back. The Xander and Cassia statues are now standing in a pile of white rubble, looking red-faced, dusty and thoroughly alive. They smile at me, take each other's hands (I feel the touch, warm and sweet as always) and walk down the street.
For a moment, I want to run after them. I don't know why … but as I'm still deciding, someone taps me on the shoulder. I turn around.
It's Ky, tall and dark, looking more unsuitable than ever in a threadbare suit of brown worker plainclothes. His hands are red from dishwashing in their transparent rubber gloves. But his lean, tan face is lit up in a smile, and his mysterious eyes are clearly visible at last: a dark, stormy blue, as blue as the ocean.
We do not touch or speak to each other. He already knows.
He winks at me and pulls out a bucket of paint from behind him. Red paint, redder than my hair or his scalded hands. Red as blood.
My sledgehammer turns into a paintbrush, like the ones we used to have in First School, but much bigger. Ky has one too. We paint all over the white heap of debris and the pavement around it: an open set of handlocks; a bird; a heart symbol. Last of all, in large sweeping cursive, we write the words:
DO NOT GO GENTLE.
We step back to survey our work and exchange a look that means we are proud of each other. We hold hands (glove, disinfectant, paint spatters and all) and we run, in the opposite direction from Xander and the other Cassia. Our feet barely touch the pavement; the world rushes past like a windstorm. The touch of his hand, the electricity between us, is all that matters as we run together down a neverending road …
Dream Monitor Murray takes off his earphones and watches the picture fade on the port screen. Displayed in the bottom left corner of the screen are the statistics:
Reyes, Cassia Maria
Mapletree Borough, Residence 77
June 10, 2711
Murray turns his chair to look up at the tall, white-clad Official who has been watching over his shoulder. "That's all, Ms. Standler," he says. "Is this the kind of dream you were looking for?"
Her stern, handsome face, which only a moment ago had looked colder than the statues into the dream, shifts into a standard Official's smile.
"Thank you, Mr. Murray," she says, placing a hand on his shoulder. "You've been very helpful. The next time you find similar images in this citizen's dream record, please notify me."
"Will do, ma'am." He nods.
She glides down the row of cubicles, arranged in the same order as the homes which the monitors survey. He watches her stop at Donnell's cubicle; he watches the Markhams, who are infamous for having lost their son to a Class One Anomaly and adopted a new one from the Outer Provinces. For a moment, Murray wonders what Official Standler could be looking for. Is the adopted son one of the boys in Cassia Reyes' dream? It must be the nutrition worker then, because Xander Carrow, her Match, has been a familiar figure in her dreams since they were children. Could this be what the Official from the Match Department is after? Evidence of a clandestine affair?
Then he shrugs and dismisses the thought. It's none of his concern, after all. He is only doing what he is told.