"Mr. Finch have you seen my mum?" I ask frantically. The man who is the closest thing to a father I have looks up from his paper.
"She went to the market, why?" he asks.
"She's gonna be late for the ceremony!" I whine.
"No she's not. Your mum would never miss the 5th of November Celebration." He says dismissively.
"But it starts in half an hour!"
"She'll be back in no time Annie." He insists. I huff out an angry sigh and storm off to my room. It was once my mother's room, filled top to bottom with old dusty books. The single other object is a bed, cleanly folded and spotless. My mum says I have to be respectful of anything in our home, as it once belonged to the greatest man she knew, my da. That's all she'll really tell me about my da. Whenever I ask about him, his profession, his name, his parents, she just smiles sweetly at me and kisses my forehead. "I'll tell you someday" is her favorite response. It annoys me to no end.
I pick up my favorite book, Treasure Island. Inside are notes written by my da. Circled words that must have meant a lot to him and what he would do in the situations. In the back is a sketch of my mum. I find the doodles all around the house. Just little pieces of paper with her face, her eyes, her smile. He must have really loved her.
"Mr. Finch, Annie! It's time to go!" Finally she's back!
"Evey are you sure you want her to go with us this year?" Mr. Finch is asking mom.
"Yes. It's time she knew." They're obviously unaware of my presence just around the corner. I pause for a few more moments to see if they'll say more.
"She may not take it in very well." Mr. Finch warns.
"I'm prepared for that. Annie are you coming?" I skid out from the hall, sliding easily on the polished floors.
"Mum what took you so long? Vanessa and Mark and Joanna will already be there!" I state so as to seem innocent.
"Come on." She smiles sweetly. She's wearing the customary black cloak but beneath it is a red stunning dress. I myself am wearing a pink sundress under my cloak. My Guy Fawkes mask dangles from my pony tail, the elastic band twisted around my hair. For the first five minutes of the ceremony we all put on our masks and dance to the 1912 Overture by Tchaikovsky. It's an odd tradition, but I like it. It celebrates the man who ended the tyrannical rule of High Chancellor Adam Sutler and his troupe. Sometimes when mum isn't around I can get Mr. Finch to tell me a story about those times. About his time spent as one of Sutler's advisors and the horrid situation that the man named V brought us out from. He says that the new parliament building we have now is modeled after the home V left to his love before he died, at least on the inside. The old one that blew up fifteen years ago looked like Buckingham Palace.
"Are you excited for the celebration Annie?" Mr. Finch asks as if he doesn't know.
"Ya! I love the part where President Holland reads the speech that V delivered. And the play will be awesome! I hear they got professional troupes this time!" I gush.
"It's silly how much they focus on V. I don't think that's what he wanted to come of November the 5th. He just wanted us to celebrate freedom." Mum sighs.
"I wish I could have met V." I breathe dreamily.
"He was a good man." Mum says absently. Mr. Finch nudges her but I've already noticed the implication in her words.
"Did you know him mum?" I demand.
"Well…yes. But we all knew him Annie. We all related to him and loved him and supported him in his goal."
"Oh. I thought you knew him personally." I notice the look exchanged between her and Mr. Finch but I don't comment. We've emerged from the warehouse that's on top of the Shadow Gallery. My da named the place, but I think it's kind of a silly name.
"What will your goal for change be this year Annie?" Mr. Finch asks, I can tell he's trying to distract me.
"Hmm. I want to change the way students get separated out in P.E. It's way to hurtful. Classifying people as better than others."
"You're the top of your class in P.E." mom observes.
"I know, but Vanessa gets really sad sometimes because she can't run like Johnny and Kendra and me. I think everyone should get equal opportunities in class."
"even if they'll fail?" Mr. Finch asks.
"Ya. At least they got a chance to shine." They shrug. I look around at the posters that decorate the streets all November. Red circled V's and quotes from Shakespeare's famous plays. My favorite is the giant one that states, "People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people." It has a Guy Fawkes mask behind the lovely script writing. I don't know why, but when I see the mask I feel safe. Like the man who was once behind it knows me. Loves me. Watches over me, and mum and Mr. Finch.
"Annie!" I look up as I'm approached by a group of ten Guy Fawkes'. All at once the masks are pulled back and my friends appear. "Come on, put your mask on, the music will start any time now!" my best friend Vanessa grins gleefully. I smile at mum and Mr. Finch and pull on my mask. Attaching the hair and hat I run off after my friends. I can already tell this is going to be a great night.