She was perfect. She had to be. Not because she strove to outshine others, she only wanted to survive. Her need for survival outweighed her need to live a full happy life. She studied so she could get good grades consistently. She did as she was told. Any unpleasant views that her brain conjured were not of use. Instead she harbored her opinions inside her until they exploded which would end in her beating her fist against the pillows and tears streaming down her cheeks like tiny rivers, the only quiet way of releasing years of unneeded thoughts. Her thoughts on Unwinds, her thoughts on storked babies. All unneeded.
In other words Cameron O'Malley was the perfect daughter, in the eyes of her parents. Cameron O'Malley was the perfect friend in the eyes of her peers. Cameron O'Malley was the perfect student in the eyes of her teachers. But even in society perfection gets you unwound.
Until she was 10 years old Cameron was like any normal child, she like candy, she threw tantrums if she didn't get what she wanted. She was also ignorant, or maybe naïve. She would sit upon her mother's lap having her red curly hair braided all the while listening to stories about princesses and knights. Cameron believed that every single child grew up as she did. She believed all children would become like her parents. She didn't know that not every child makes it to adulthood. But that day, yes her whole life changed in one single day. She remembers the exact date, March 12, 2025. It was close to the end of fourth grade and Cameron was excited for the year to end and for summer to start. She sat in the middle of classroom, complete unaware of how this day will change her whole outlook on life, and how it will drive her to desperate needs to live until she was 18. The teacher entered the room, commanded everybody's attention and began the lesson. The lesson for that week was the Bill of Life. To teach this particular subject, Mrs. Cunningham had the kids memorized the exact words to the Bill of Life. While Cameron did eventually memorize the whole bill, only one line carried with her forever, "The process by which a child is both terminated and yet kept alive is called 'unwinding.'"
Cameron was never the same after that week. She knew she had until she was at least 13 to fear for her life. But she knew that if she caused trouble or was somehow and inconvenience beforehand then her parents would sign the order the same day as her 13th birthday. Though everybody said that Unwinds still live though in a divided state, Cameron didn't believe that. She knew that as soon as her heart was taken out of her chest for some other person to use she was dead.
From then on life became a game, a game where all she had to do was stay alive until her 18th birthday. After that she was free, nobody could send her to a harvest camp, nobody could use her talented fingers, nobody could take her big lungs which were put to use as a toddler, nobody could take any body part away from her. Cameron never thought about what she would do after, that thought just seemed too hopeful and foolish to even be contemplating. It seemed almost impossible for her to make it that far even though her parents were loving and caring towards her.
She tread through life as though it could crumble away from underneath her. Every time there was an opportunity to argue with her parents she suppressed the urge she did what was asked of her. This fact didn't worry her parents, for they guessed they were blessed with a daughter who decided to skip the rebellious stage that was commonly found in their society's youth.
It was a normal day for Cameron as she was walking home from school that day. She was thinking of places where she could apply for a job. Her 16th birthday was behind her and now it was the age where she help the family income. But in the deep depths of her mind a little voice that appeared when she was 10 years old said "Only two more years, only two more years until you are free." Birthday's were not celebrated just for the cause of her growing maturity, it was a time of unimaginable joy that she hid behind a carefully orchestrated mask. The joy being because she had made it another year. The important countdown was able to drop a year.
Looking both ways before crossing the street, Cameron felt her phone buzz in her pocket signaling that a person wanted to speak with her on the other end. Checking the caller ID before answering she greeted her father with a cheery hello that was not returned. "Cameron I need you to come home immediately, your mother and I need to speak with you about something." "Sure dad, I'm on my way home now. Though can I ask a favor? After the talk can we discuss places where I might be able to find a job suitable for someone my age?" There was a slight pause that frightened Cameron more than she would like to admit. Though her dad did nothing to quell fears by answering "We'll see."
5 minutes later she opened the door, fully expecting to see only her parents there but was greeted by the sight of two well built guys standing guard to the living room entrance. "What's this all about?" She said in a false calm voice, that didn't quite hide the immeasurable terror behind the words. "I'm so s-s-sorry honey b-b-but we don't have a choice." Mrs. O'Malley spluttered through her tears. "What do you mean?" Cameron all but screamed out, unable to hide the horror and fear anymore. "Sweetheart money is tight and has been for a while. You know that and we unfortunately cannot afford to keep you as a daughter anymore. We have decided to have you Unwound." Mr. O'Malley said with a steady voice that cracked in the end. Her worst nightmares were coming true, she was going to die. "No no it doesn't have to be like this, I can get a job. I can sell all my items that might have some value. I can help. PLEASE DON'T DO THIS!" She shrieked with fright etched into every single word. "Do you think we haven't considered that? Do you think we want to send you away? We don't want to do this but we have to. I'm sorry." Cameron's mother said after she wiped away the tears. Suddenly the two guards were at her back in an instant, locking their hands onto her arms, preventing her escape. Cameron looked into the eyes of her parents, the ones who she knew had complete control over whether she lives or dies. She looked into their eyes and didn't recognize them. Maybe after all the years she spent trying to survive, she forgot to actually get to know her parents. Now it's too late.
All the effort she put into keeping herself alive was for nothing, all wasted. She was so intent on not getting Unwound because of something she might do that she forgot she might become an unwind because of something outside her control. All of the sudden she was overcome with the want and desire to hate these people. No, these monsters that would send their child to die just because they couldn't afford her. But she couldn't. That's all Cameron wanted now, was to hate them, hate them so much that killing them would have no affect on her conscience. But the horror was taking over her mind. The deep true terror latched itself onto her heart so well that she can't remember living without it. As there was nothing she could do, she did the only thing possible, the only thing that could possible ease the fear "I hate you both. You are monsters! Your all going to rot in Hell! Every single person who makes their child become an Unwind will suffer. They are all going to pay." She yelled through her sobs and the thick fury coating her voice. The guards dragged her out into their car and she had one glance at her home before it was lost forever.
All she saw was her parents staring at a photo album on the couch with her mother sobbing over it.
5 years later
"Oh sweetie you are alright!" My mother yelled as she flung her arms around me. "Yes mother I am alright. The doctors made it seem much more difficult than it actually was." I reassured her as she hugged me awkwardly, the cause of my upright back in the hospital bed. "I know, but I am a mother I have the right to worry. Plus the doctors said it was a risky operation and that serious complications could arise." "I know, but none did so all is well now." My mom left the room to find my dad who was probably finding comfort in the cafe` food served in the hospital. I stretched out the kinks in my back when suddenly something changed. My brain which was normal before flashed a image quickly in front of my eyes, too fast to catch the picture. But all I was left with was this fear and horror, so pronounced that I screamed in agony. The doctors came rushing in and that was the last thing I saw before I entered the blackness.