Other Lives

A Story of More Woe

They're both so very young, a boy without a last name, and a girl without a first name, two children of a world where names are answers. Sometimes it feels like they're getting younger every day. The world around them is getting bigger and they're feeling smaller, and the only thing they have to cling to in all this is each other. They sneak away from their keepers and hide in quiet corners, in shadows so deep even they can't see each other unless they stay very, very close.

They don't mind the closeness, not at all.

They tell each other secrets, things they've heard, things they've learned, things they've wondered about. They're assembling a complex puzzle, just the two of them, trying to solve the mystery of life and the mystery of why their lives are mysteries. The boy is convinced they should be able to work this out. With her knowledge of the world, and his knowledge of just about everything, they should find the answers easily and understand them completely. The girl is quietly afraid of what the answers will be, what they will mean, for her with her murdered mother and absent father, for him with his dead or maybe stolen parents.

They do things they're not allowed to do in the outside world, eat candy, play games, tell truths. They steal every moment they can to be together. Sometimes, they don't even speak, they just sit together, safe like they aren't any where else in the world, and hold each other's hands.

The day their lips touch is the beginning of something. No one catches them: they're both too careful for that. After that, they always kiss when they're together. One day, they don't stop kissing.

One day, they don't stop with kissing.

It scares them, a little, how close they've ventured to the lines between the suspected and the utterly unknown. He understands the biology of it as a theory. At fourteen, they're both technically sexually mature, and there are biochemical stimulants as well as physical touches that account for the levels of arousal they both experience.

None of this explains the emotions. The boy, who can now take an average person's psyche to bits and duplicate it in a lab, somehow cannot manage to do a thing with his own. The girl's situation is no better. Everyone she loves leaves her, except this boy, and all she really knows of joy is as a leverage, as something to be taken from her.

The boy asks his mentor to explain. The girl passes on what her mother taught her. They pool their information, and know they're in love. They decide, boy genius and teenage queen, that they should wait, should be careful, until they are old enough to marry. They've been taught by polite, proper people after all, and this is what adults who are in love do, they've been told.

That goal makes things between them strained, painful, confused. They fight, they cry, they make up. He never even considers hitting her (one of her greatest fears) and she never even considers leaving him (a terrifying possibility to both of them). They are certain this proves their love true beyond all doubt.

If the adults around them are the sorts of examples they appear to be (bad ones), the children may be right.

The end begins the night she sneaks into his room with the news that her father is sending her away to school. She'll never be allowed to see him again; she'll be alone, too, without him. Before she goes, though, she wants to share everything with him. He thinks that she is right. They have time, a few days...

She doesn't want to wait a minute longer and he's a teenage boy. He comes around to her way of thinking with their very first kiss. The whole experience is lovely and heated and over way too fast. It's also awkward and brilliant and messy. They didn't count on the pain or the blood, but he's not called a genius for no reason. The second time is easier and slower and after the third, the girl is convinced about just how fast a learner the boy really is.

She slips away before the dawn, and the boy's mentor is horrified to find him with a vigorously bleeding nose. He pins the boy's day-long distraction down to having such a rude awakening.

She comes to him every night that week, and there are other times and places they find each other as well. They make love, youthfully, passionately, desperately. They're joining bodies, sharing hearts, merging souls. They know they're going to be separated at the end of the week, but as they approach that date, they come to realize that apart is the very last place either of them ever wants to be. There are too many unanswered questions around them to trust a world that separates them.

The girl begs her father to let her stay, begs other grown-ups to talk to her father. The boy has to stay quiet, but that mind of his, the fined, honed, and tempered weapon that it is, is focused solely on alternatives. He remembers how many times he's asked to be somewhere else, to do something else, to know someone else. He tunes in to that, and in to the mysteries that surround the lives they've lived here, the mysteries they've always studied.

He realizes the very last day, and she realizes it too, that they will not only be wrenched apart if they stay here. They'll both be destroyed, because this love is not what the people controlling their lives want for them. Her father has scolded her for human feeling before, just as the boy is only supposed to feel what other people feel.

They plan to leave, but they don't have the time or the knowledge to plan well. They simply ask their friend for the way out, and then they run.

It's just as well, because this way they never know what happened to them, never know that the greatest tragedy of their lives is that they aren't their lives at all.

There is one area of the grounds where orders are to shoot on sight. The sweeper doesn't question, just does his job. It's only after they stagger into the waning moonlight, bloody and broken, that he realizes what he's done. It's his job to serve and protect, not murder babies, so he turns from pursuer to rescuer.

They're too shocked to understand the last moments of their lives, the shots, the blood, the voices, the screaming. They huddle together under a tree, wrapped up in the only thing each of them has ever had in this world, his body providing meager shielding for hers as their blood mixes like everything else about them.

They don't know his mentor dies in that fight, or their friend, or Sam the new sweeper who will never know more about them than that they were too young. They don't know that Dr. Raines dies, too, but they probably would have been relieved to hear it.

All they know, because they are still so very innocent, is that they loved and they tried. Whatever else becomes of their enslavement, a girl with no first name and a boy with no last name die free.