By Laura Schiller
Based on: Matched
Copyright: Ally Condie
"Please, may I keep this?
You can keep my old dreams, organize them as you like.
Keep the world under your control,
but take your cold hands away from mine."
- Wir sind Helden, "Darf ich das behalten?" ("May I Keep This?")
I gave up Grandfather's poem. Even though it showed me a different world – a world of blazing meteors, green bays, fierce tears that curse and bless, a world where one is free to rage against the dying of the light – even though Dylan Thomas' words spoke to my heart across the centuries as no words ever had before. Even though it was my grandfather's dying gift. I gave it up out of loyalty, as a model Citizen should, because I truly believed in the rules of my Society – but it was only the paper I burned. The words I wrote and rewrote inside my mind, inside my heart where the Officials cannot get at them. That was when I suspected I might not be a model Citizen after all.
I gave up my compact. Being part of my heritage, my history, it hurt to lose even more than the poem. A remote ancestor's initials are engraved on it, my great-grandmother hid "Do Not Go Gentle" inside it; my grandmother carried it to her Contract Ceremony; I carried it to my own Match Banquet. How many of us Reyes women have looked into it as I have, to smooth their hair, touch up their makeup, calm their nerves by the sight of their own faces? How many of us have hidden their secrets inside? I hated the Society that day, and hated myself for giving in – but I also knew they would never know my compact's untold story, a story which made it rich with meaning in my eyes. Underneath all my rage, this at least was something to hold on to: my family's legacy of courage, cunning and pride was something the Officials' white-gloved hands could never reach.
I gave up Ky's artwork. Every piece of his story he ever gave me, every word and picture painstakingly sketched on a stolen napkin, I committed to memory and dropped down the incineration chute. When I close my eyes now, I can see them: Ky's two selves, the boy in the desert and the man with work-reddened hands. Rains of water, rains of bombs. One would think he misses his former life more than anything – open skies; the smell of sage; his birth parents – but in his last message, he told me his real life is the one with me. I destroyed all his creations anyway, not for myself, but for him. Keeping my secret about "Do Not Go Gentle" and teaching me to write cursive already put him at risk; the least I could do was protect him.
I gave up the cloth from my Matching gown. Of all the things the Society takes away, this is one of the few things I was required to keep: a momento of my Match with Xander, a testament to the triumph of the system. Except that it is also a testament to all that is wrong with our lives: we are like the cloth, pressed between glass panels, perfectly preserved yet untouchable. It felt good to break that glass, almost as good as giving that square of green silk to Ky along with our first kiss. I gave him the remains of the dress he should have seen me wear, the symbol of the love we should be able to show the world. I really do love Xander as a friend, and we could have been happy together, but it is Ky, my true Match, who forks lightning in my heart. With this cloth, I chose him, and I do not regret it for a moment.
I kept Ky's compass. Now that he is gone, and I am working in the fields, far away from where we used to meet, the compass is all I have left. Just as that compass guided him when he was lost in our Borough as a child, it will guide me in my search for him.
I promised him. I promised myself. We will find each other, no matter what it takes.