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Pen Your Pride


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Every morning I wake up thinking, today is the day. Today the stares and whispers and curiosity will stop. But nope, today isn't that day. The voices that fill the school's hallway begin their expected fall, landing at a level of hushed whispers. I feel their eyes on me, feel the weight of their stares pressing at me like prodding fingers.

It makes me want to scream.

When Maddie, my best friend, found out she was fertile and would live the rest of her life as a Breeder, she ran. And while I was devastated, it was my brother, Travis, who took the brunt of the community's curiosity.

But now that he's gone too? It's fallen on me, and I fight every second of these moments not to flip them all off and rip them a new one.


Not today, Grace. They won't break you today.

I grip the straps of my backpack tighter and continue down the hall with my head held high, pretending I don't notice them, pretending all of this doesn't bother me, pretending I don't want to scream at the top my lungs and rip my hair straight from my scalp.

It's exhausting.

It's been a month, and they haven't let up. Talk buzzes through school, through the town, constantly, because while Maddie running was a shock, we've been through it before, but what Travis did...Infiltrating the government, rising in the ranks as quickly as he did, only to then break out four Breeders and manage to escape with them, still unfound...its unheard of.

It has people talking, more than ever before. It's changed things. People are anxious, curious, testing the limits, questioning things in the light of day we'd never dare speak of before...

Why do we live this way?

Why don't our girls have a choice?

Why have we been breeding for over a decade yet have no proof of a new generation?

Where are the Breeders?

And where the hell are their children?

It's the type of buzz that's exhilarating yet terrifying, because while we now hold a power we never held before in our awareness, and our questions, and our change of attitude towards the Breeding system and our government as a whole, there's always a flip side. A dark and twisted match to that rise in power...

...Beefed-up security, more Hunters on patrol around our city, Militia watching...waiting, stricter rules, earlier curfews, decreased food allowances on top of increased work hours...

They're teaching us a lesson.

Because while the majority of our citizens have painted Travis as a hero, the government won't stop until every last one of us believe he's a villain.

I hate it, and I hate them.

Every positive word spoken about my brother is replaced by a negative one, and it's those whispers, those evil eyes and disgusted looks that make me want to kick and fight and scream, and shut up every last person who has said something bad about him, because he did a good thing. A brave thing.

Travis is a hero.

As I slide into my desk, I feel Tyler's arm drape over my shoulders. "Hey, babe," my ex says.

"Don't call me that," I reply, shrugging him off. I'm in no mood for him today. I don't know what I ever saw in him to be honest. He's good looking enough, with his deep brown eyes, dirty blond hair, and perfectly charming smile, but he's an idiot.

In typical response, he pulls me closer. "Hey, just because we aren't together anymore doesn't mean I don't want to be here for you."

I roll my eyes. "Right. So where were you last week when Wendy-shitface-O'Connell tripped me in the cafeteria for, 'being such a disgusting disgrace to society?' Ohh, that's right. You were sucking face with Jennifer in the boy's locker room." I throw him a condescending smile. "Give me a break, Tyler."

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