I don't own Unwind. If I did, would I be posting this on a fanfiction website?
From street level, I could see my old room. The place where I laughed as a child, played video games as a 10 year old, and plotted my escape from unwinding at age 16. All of my old things have probably been donated (an example of just how generous my parents are) and the empty space converted into that home office my dad always wanted. Completely renovated to hide the fact that his firstborn son once slept peacefully in a crib placed in the corner.
The old, pre-Happy Jack part of me hopes that whenever my parents walk into the room, they remember me. That part of me hopes that they hear my voice in their minds, mocking them: "Remember all of the good times? The person I could have become?" Another side of me, a part that came out as I finally matured, hopes that they've long since forgotten me, and have pushed every painful memory out of my mind. Placed all of my school pictures in the attic. Thrown out every art class project. Maybe it would make things easier for everyone.
I finally get out of my car and help out Risa out. She insisted on coming, even though she's unsteady on her crutches. Risa struggled through months of physical therapy to get out of her wheelchair. She's too independent for a wheelchair and would rather be unwound then get a new spine from a "healthy, young 'donor.'"
"You ready?" my girlfriend asks.
"Not really," I reply honestly.
"Good. You're not supposed to be."
Three cars are parked in the driveway, only one of which I recognize; my father's silver BMW. One of the others looks like some new, practical car my mother would buy. The other one is a red, sporty convertible. The exact car my brother has wanted since he was 5. I suppose there is a lot you can buy when you suddenly only have one kid.
Only as we stand in front of the door do I realize that I'm as much of a stranger here as Risa. I'm not the same, rebellious kid who grew up here.
I'm a rebellious adult leading a revolution.
Now that I'm free from unwinding, I got the letter I wrote a year ago from Sonia. I'll leave it with my parents, to explain just how angry I was a year ago. I need to get some sort of closure from the people who brought me into this word, and then tried to send me out.
I finally ring the doorbell, my heart pounding. I can hear footsteps coming closer to the door and fight the urge to run.
My brother opens the door. He's grown a lot since I last saw him, a year and a half ago. He doesn't recognize me through my sunglasses and hooded sweatshirt.
"Hi, I'm Risa. Are you Nick Lassiter?"
"Yeah," he says. "How do you know my name?"
"I'm just an old friend of your parents." she lied smoothly. "Can you get them?
"Um, sure." My brother looked uncertain. "Mom! Dad! Come out here!"
My parents came down, and looked at my brother, "Nick, are these friends of yours?"
"You could say that," I said, taking off my sunglasses and lowering my hood.
"Connor!" my mother screamed. "You were unwound-"
"Not exactly," I say. The old part of me wants to relish in their shock and pain, but another part of the new, mature Connor realized just how hurt and broken my family is.
"I was on the run for a while but was caught and sent to Happy Jack. Then there was the explosion, you know. Moments before I was supposed to be unwound, actually. Anyway, we both survived, and I'm just here to say, I forgive you."
Nick is the first one to regain composure. "I missed you, Connor."
My mom begins to speak, but is cut off by Risa. "Maybe your son forgives you, but I sure as hell don't. You sent your own son off to be unwound. You and your husband are disgusting."
"Don't you dare insult my wife, you filthy little unwind-" my father starts.
Risa laughs bitterly. "Yeah, I was sent to be unwound. Not because I got into fights or caused trouble. But because my StaHo had budget cuts. You call that a good reason to be torn apart for your organs?"
Everyone is at a loss of words, including me. The normally calm Risa has let everything go and is saying everything 16 year old me would have wanted to tell my family. Everything she probably wants to tell the people at her old StaHo. "Risa, you don't have to say all of this-"
"Yes, I do. These people deserve this. Anyone who sends their own child to be cut open deserves this."
Risa begins hobbling away, towards the car. I know it's hard for her to walk that far, but she sure won't accept help now.
Both of my parents are crying now. Nicky looks at them with disgust. "Go inside. Leave us alone" he says, his voice laced with contempt. They both head inside, shutting the door. It's just me and my little brother now. Just like old times. Just like it should be
"I missed you, Nicky."
"Yeah, so did mom and dad. They cried for the first few weeks. Kind of pathetic."
"You guys really didn't know that I made it out?"
Nick shook his head. "When everybody started talking about the Akron AWOL, there were rumors going around that it was you. We went down to the State Police to see if it was true. They said you were caught and sent to Twin Lakes Harvest Camp, and unwound right on time. Bastards."
I smiled. I really had missed the kid. "Yeah. Anyway, I've got to go. I'll see you sometime."
"See you, Connor."
I turn around, but stop at the mailbox at the end of the driveway. I shove the letter inside, hoping that my parents will read it and understand the things I could not say today. Then I step into my car. It's beaten up and second or third-handed, way different than the cars my family drives. But now I know that I'm so much better off.
I may not have a brand new car, or live in a cushy house with a perfectly manicured lawn. But I'm making a difference, and leading a revolution. I'm saving teenagers from a fate worse than death. I'm living life to the fullest, while my family silently suffers. I'm making a difference in this world, and I'm damn proud of it.