Birth Name: ELEANOR MARIE RENOLDS
Creation: JULY 17, 2173
Expiration: DECEMBER 4, 2263
O.D.P: ALEXIS LYNN JAMES & GEOFFRY SCOTT PETERSBURG
Having the date of your death tattooed on the bottom of your foot is a constant reminder; a constant tugging in the back of your mind. It feels as if it's stamped on your forehead for everyone to see.
And knowing you're dying and seeing your death coming is like riding a roller coaster; you get to the top of the hill and once you see the drop approaching, your stomach flies up to your throat.
You can tell when someone is about to expire. Their hair starts to lose it's color, and their skin starts to become lifeless. People just stare at them with sympathy. They let them go in front of them in the checkout line at stores, they try to be as nice as possible. It gives me the chills.
* * * *
I'm legally an adult. No more gifts for the celebration of my creation-day; no more 'Day-Of-Creation' in general. It now is just a date, written on my ID.
From this day on, my life will drastically change.
For those who make it to 21, a small percentage of people, you are forced to report to 'The Office' and start your new life that your guardians have worked so hard to prepare you for. Linda and Stanley have chosen for me to become a photographer. I remember that day clearly. 'The Officers' came to our house on my 13th birthday with a list of occupations. Linda and Stanley didn't put much thought into it, they saw my options and picked what they thought I'd be good at.
From that day on, I took photography lessons. I had a fancy camera and a dark-room, like the professionals, to develop and take as many pictures as I wanted to. I took the family's pictures, pictures of family events (like 'Day-of-creation's', ect.) I took pictures of my 'sister', Norah, and her occupation inauguration. She became a physical therapist. My younger 'brother', Delaney, turned 13 a few years ago. I took pictures of Linda and Stanley deciding for him to become an English teacher.
I guess I do like photography. I think I'd like it a lot more if I wasn't forced to be taking pictures 24/7. I just wish I had the freedom, but I know I should be lucky that I have the chance to have a career. I've seen so many kids growing up expire. It shouldn't bother me as much as it does. Expiring is a part of life. It's always fair; 'The luck of the draw' they say.
"Eleanor Marie Renolds?" An 'Officer' calls out. I get out of my seat. My legs feel a little shaky, as I can feel my nervousness eating at my stomach.
Am I ready for this? To be on my own, completely?
"Ellie, we'll miss you so much. You are a truly wonderful human-being." Stanley hugs me tightly, his familiar raspy voice sounds choked up. He still smells the same way; freshly-cut grass and charcoal. I inhale, taking one last whiff, knowing it will be my last; ever.
No more comforting talks over our morning coffee; no more shoulder to cry on when I get frustrated; no more spontaneous trips to far-off beaches.
"Nothing could have prepared us for this day, no matter how hard we tried." Linda mutters sadly to herself, "I honestly hope we run into each other in the future. The kids you get to raise one day, are lucky." She hugs me, tucking her rapidly greying hair behind her ears. She gives me a kiss on the forehead, leaving the lasting imprint of lipstick on my skin.