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"Amber! You're needed downstairs!" My father calls.

I push my sheets off of me and jump out of bed. I pull on grey sweats and a hoodie, and run downstairs.

I pass Ty, who smiles at me and blinks his dark brown eyes, which are the mirror image of mine.

I follow the sound of my parents talking to the front door.

"Good morning Amber!" My mother says cheerfully.

"Morning Mom."

I try to be as happy as I can around her, knowing the amount of pain I will put her through tomorrow.

"Amber, this officer is here because-"

Wait. An officer? What? I look to the door, and what do you know, there's a government officer there.

"-your mother thought that there might have been some error in your fitness test, as she didn't believe that you would be able to pass it," my father continues.

"Oh?" I say, surprised.

Wow Mom, I think. Way to make me sound weak.

"So I called ADCCG, and they sent an official to have you do the test again, with your father and I watching," my mother says.

"Okay. So I just have to redo the fitness test?" I ask.

"Yes," the official says gruffly, looking at me critically.

I am suddenly aware of my knotted, brown hair and the bags under my eyes.

"Honey, run upstairs and get ready, and then we'll go," my mom says.

"Okay. Is Ty coming too?"


Once get back into my bedroom, I shut the door and I rifle through drawers to find some athletic clothing. I settle on a black Dryfit shirt, and blue Adidas shorts. I lace my shoes and head back downstairs, where my mother waits with a bowl of oatmeal, which I actually hate.

She looks at me sympathetically.

"I know it's tiring, but I'm doing this for you Amber," she says.

Oh, if only she knew. But based on the conversation I overheard last night, I think my dad has figured it out. If I wanted to, I could have failed the fitness test, but I didn't.

I choke down the disgusting oatmeal, and then my whole family follows the ADCCG official to their complex, and takes us to a high tech gym.


An hour later, I'm purely exhausted.

The official tells me that once again, I have passed the fitness test, and that my name will be in the bowl.

My mother's face goes sheet white, and it's almost enough to make me regret my decision. But nothing can me regret it.

I think back to five years ago.

It's the day of the drawing. One boy from each of the thirteen provinces will become government property today, and there's nothing that their parents can do about it. They all signed the contract when their child was born. If they didn't, their child would already belong to the government. I get ready, in nicer clothes than usual. Normally, my family does not attend the drawing; we normally just watch it on television. But today we are going, because my best friend's brother, Mitchel, is in the bowl. Tasha asked me to come to support her. Her brother is like her best friend. Even with the four year age gap, nothing could come between those two. But the government did-taking Mitchel away, and changing Tasha's life for the worse.

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