The Choice

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We make choices for ourselves everyday. But does a child have the right to make a decision for the rest of the village? And what if she can't make a decision?

***

The decision, although written in the laws to be the Council's, was mine alone. I was the only one who hadn't pledged my allegiance to either candidate.

Everyone in the village, from the youngest children to the busiest workers, knew that, but it seemed they believed my indecisiveness was only external. They thought I knew who would become the next chief, but I didn't.

I kept telling myself I had at least a few hours of proceedings to decide, but if I hadn't decided in three weeks, how would I decide in three hours?

Escorted by two guards, I stepped through the heavy wooden doors.

I climbed up the stairs slowly towards the row of chairs at the front of the audience. I took my seat on the left-most of the nine chairs, the seat of the most junior Councilmember. 15 and the younger of the two children on the Council, nobody expected me to make such an important decision in my first month. Nobody expected our chief to pass away one morning in a way that left every villager waiting for her to wake up.

And nobody expected my decision to be the final decision. It may have even been acceptable if the decision was James's, the other and older representative of the children of the village, but he was among the four who had publicly announced his vote for Lachlan.

Lachlan, the young boisterous candidate with the bright blond hair and exotic blue eyes should have been the obvious choice for a representative of the children to vote for. He was a former teacher and he had many children, each of whom was a perfect epitome of what we children wanted to be.

I turned my eyes towards Tristan, taking care to maintain the external image of one who was concentrating only on the proceedings, although nobody should have been paying attention to me. Tristan stood upright, his face solemn, his eyes wise. His arms stiff, it would be possible to mistake him for a statue if it weren't for the occasional blink of his eyes.

I weighed the candidates in my head, as if I would come to a different conclusion than I had every time before. Lachlan was too impulsive, Tristan too restrained. Lachlan had no experience, but Tristan had enough to be corrupt.

"Those who would like to dedicate their vote to Lachlan, please rise," the Chairman said, shocking me out of my thoughts. I had to decide now.

Half the audience rose, although their vote didn't matter.

James rose, followed by Lena, Will, and Richard.

The Chairman paused, the first indication I had of his preferred candidate. He wanted me to stand up. I wanted to stand up too.

I began to rise, slowly. I could sense the audience's eyes on me. My legs trembled under the weight of my half-sitting half-standing position.

I looked at Lachlan, who was smiling encouragingly. I could almost see him gesturing for me to get up completely, but his hands didn't move.

I sat back down.

The smile faded from Lachlan's face and a smirk appeared, however slight, on Tristan's.

"And those who would like to dedicate their vote to Tristan, please rise."

The other four Councilmembers rose.

I shivered from the consequences of my decision before I even made it.

I remained seated.

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