Prologue Gabriel's Point of View
Gabriel looked up at Jonas, his pale eyes glowing. "Hey, Jonas?" They were walking through their new community. Jonas was marveling at the little Twos and Threes playing together. The small groups of children were rolling around on the lush green grass of their new community.
"What?" Jonas looked over to him, his own eyes glowing. Gabriel hoped Jonas liked the new community better than the old one. Jonas, in their shared dwelling, had told Gabriel stories of the old community. Not all of them were pleasant, but whenever Jonas talked about his former sister, Lily, his normally hard but understanding eyes would soften. Jonas is too serious, Gabriel thought.
"What is the-" Gabriel started.
"The old community doing?" Jonas finished. He shrugged. "Making new rules, I suppose."
"Like, no one can hoard colors?" Gabriel stopped walking as a group of running Threes blew past them. "I mean is, how is the Giver? Do you think he received a new apprentice?"
Jonas looked at his adopted younger brother. "I don't think the Giver got a new apprentice. Right when I left, he said he would apply for release." Jonas's lip trembled and Gabriel remembered that his older brother had missed the Giver. Gabriel felt sympathetic for him, Jonas had made the Giver sound nice whenever he would talk about him.
Gabriel protested. "He said he wanted to be with his daughter, Rose-"
"Yes, he did. But she was released, Gabe. Being released, means accepting the fact that a needle is coming to kill you." Jonas's eyes hardened. Gabriel went silent, admiring the colors he could see. Here, at the new community, the colors were for everyone. Jonas suspected it had something to do with the childrens' eyes.
"I wonder how Lily is doing. . ." Gabriel wondered out loud. "And Mother, and Father."
Jonas cracked a rare gin. "Lily's probably received that Storyteller assignment." He sighed wistfully. "She told the greatest stories." Gabriel barely remembered the conversation. He could hardly remember what the old dwelling had looked like. What he did remember, though, was when he was a One, trekking through the snow and scrambling over the hills. It had seemed to Gabriel during that time that they had been traveling through the cold wilderness forever.
"How long did it take you to reach the new community?" Gabriel asked, looking up at the magnificent blue sky. The sun beamed down on them; it was hot, but the sunlight had reminded Gabriel every day of warmth. He felt guilty and remorse that the family he had came to love in the old community would never feel the warmth of sunshine.
Jonas walked over to their dwelling and opened the door. He waved Gabriel in. They sat down in the dining room. Gabriel noticed Jonas had deflected his question. Inward, Gabriel sighed, he would ask Jonas later.
"Alright," Jonas said, staring at Gabriel with wise pale eyes," what do you want to know?"
Gabriel was shocked. "What?"
"You are old enough now to ask questions. You're 14 now, Gabe."
"And you are 26, you're old enough to ignore my questions."
"Yes, I am." Jonas laughed for a moment. "But you'll ask me later, so we better get this done now."
Gabriel remained silent for a moment, unnerved with Jonas's patient eyes on him. "Well," he started," what was receiving memories like?"
Jonas's eyes softened in thought. "The first time was strange. I received a sled, it was wonderful." Jonas looked at Gabriel. "You should know, I used to give you memories at night when you were a One."
Jonas looked out the open window in thought. "You never slept very well." His voice turned sad. "Father voted to release you that one time you slept in the Training Center."
Gabriel sat still. His own father, in a way at least, had voted to have him killed? The confession from Jonas did direct him to another question. "Did they really kill Old and twins?"
Jonas nodded, his eyes still distant. "They killed the Old when they have lived a long time."
"So whenever the Community of Elders thought the Old section of the community was too big, they'd kill some of the Old to let in new ones?"
"Yes." Jonas looked troubled for a moment. "You jumped to that conclusion quick, but I'm not surprised if that was how the Community of Elders thought about things."
"What about the twins?" Gabriel almost didn't want to hear the answer. Killing the Old was one thing, but infants?
Jonas looked at Gabriel with piercing eyes. "They would release the smallest twin."
"What if they weighed the same?" Gabriel asked.
"Very unlikely, but if they did, I'm sure they would find a flaw."
"Examples please." Gabriel almost wanted to write down the information Jonas was telling him. He realized in one moment that he wanted to write down the information to keep as a memoir.
"Maybe loose earlobes, no hair." Jonas thought for a moment. "Pale eyes?"
Inside, the question had shocked Gabriel, but he composed it so the shock wouldn't be on his face.
"Why did you decide to run away?" Gabriel asked.
"They were killing the Old and Newchildren. Would you have wanted to stay?"
"I guess not." Gabriel allowed. "Do you think the Giver applied for release by now? It's been 14 years since we left."
Jonas smiled. "If he hadn't by now, he decided to change things."
"Do you wish you had grandparents?"
"I do, I just don't know them." Jonas pointed out.
Gabriel grinned. "How long did it take you to get here?" He decided to bring up the same question again.
"Too long." Jonas's eyes clouded in sadness.
"Do you miss your old community?"
"No!" Jonas was very straight to the point. He softened his tone when he saw Gabriel lean back. "Gabe," he began slowly, "if I could see Lily, I would go back there."
Gabriel smiled. Then Jonas added, "For five minutes."
"Do you think that the Community of Old sacrificed too many things?" Gabriel asked another question, hoping to fill in the silence.
Jonas nodded. "They let us all lose colors and feelings. They sacrificed too much." He looked back out the window. "Sacrifice is important. Everyone should know that they all will give up something sooner or later."
Gabriel bobbed his head in understanding. "What makes it important?"
"Sacrifice is critical. The Giver sacrificed his daughter just to require wisdom, when it all could have worked out if we all had shared the memories. Storytelling would be needed, and memoirs." Jonas went on, " So if anyone forgets anything, we would have it written down to share again. The Birthmothers sacrificed the children they would never see, but for the good of the community. The Laborers and the Nurturers too. They all lost things, but for the good of the community." Gabriel noticed how often Jonas said, 'for the good of the community'. It didn't make much sense.
"Why does it have to be for the good of the community?"
"So no one starves, or knows certain information that they should not. Sacrifice, in a way I suppose, teaches people that there is always something you could lose. Remember that story about the pilot who went the wrong way and was trying to make up for his mistake?" Jonas prompted.
"Yes, I remember. He was released." Gabriel recalled.
"He had only two times to get it right, there are no third chances. The utopia that the Community of Old was trying to make of the community, was built on sacrifice." Jonas's face went hard. "No sacrifice. . ."
"Then no jobs, and no jobs means no food. And no food means-"
"Everyone starves." Jonas finished.
Gabriel kept the conversation going. "So, the way they would release people in the Mayan society, it is kind of the same like in the old community? I mean, the Mayans sacrificed people for the good of the community, even though other people would volunteer."
Jonas nodded. "The Mayans sacrificed members of their tribe or group, to please their Gods. In their minds, everything would be done in the right order before the sacrifice, only after wards it would be enhanced to a point that it seemed magical. So in the old community, they would release the punished and the Old as gifts to. . ." Jonas trailed off in confusion.
"Our Gods?" Gabriel prompted.
"I suppose so, it doesn't make much sense, but yes. Maybe the Community of Old at the old community were considered Gods, and the members being released were being sacrificed to please them." Jonas thought for a moment. "In other societies, I'm sure sacrifice is something else entirely. Sacrifice to them means maybe paying money. How do you think the food gets to us? We go to our jobs, work, receive our money, and pay for our food. Only maybe societies have advanced or decline in advance, to get their own food."
"So they can choose, and not someone else." Gabriel understood.
"Yes! But if they make the wrong choices, it would be on them, and not the whole community. No one would be released for failures, because everyone else would be too busy to notice, because they were making their own choices too." Jonas grinned.
For a while, their shared dwelling was quiet except for the squeaks of laughter from outside. The Twos and Threes were still playing.
Gabriel thought of another question and looked at Jonas to announce it.
"One more thing." Gabriel pleaded as Jonas started to get up from his chair.
"Tomorrow." Jonas walked toward the kitchen.
"Please?" Gabriel begged. "It's important. It's about your preferences!"
"No, I'm hungry." Jonas groaned. "Let me eat an apple."
Gabriel smiled. "Red or green?" A hidden memory flickered in Jonas's pale eyes, and when he spoke, his eyes softened completely, making his ancient face seem suddenly young.
"Red apples are the best."