As far back as I can remember, I've been surrounded by water. The salt in the air even now makes it hard to breath, forcing me to squint. Sand clings to every inch of me, caking my pants and shoes. The wind from the ocean picks my hair up, sending it blowing back towards the multi-colored houses lining the shore line.

I was born under water, surrounded by the dulled screams of my mother and the cheering of my father. I imagine that the water around me was filled with broken shards of light, glittering like dancers over a brightly lit stage.

"You sucked in too much water," Mom always says when I get sick, which is more often than normal people here in Compound 5. "When you were underwater, you just breathed it right in."

"He didn't suck in water, Catherine," Dad will interject, shaking his head as he reads on his tablet at the kitchen table. "He's just sickly."

Truthfully, they're both right.

The ocean has always been a few steps away, filling our nights with its gentle grating on the beach, breathing as the foam settles on the sand under it. Standing here now, I can hear the waves biting into the shoreline as they slowly recede from the high night tide. It stares back at me, reminding me of how small and insignificant I am.

The wood of the porch moans under me as I lean on the railing, staring out at the ocean. Cotton clouds rest along the horizon, contrasting with the pinks and oranges of a sunrise. I am listening for the door under me to open, to hear the sleepy footsteps of my neighbor.

Glancing at my watch, I take a deep breath. She's late. I probably couldn't pay Alexis to be on time somewhere.

"Hey, Q."

The hushed whisper comes from my left, at the bottom of the stairs.

Cautiously, I tiptoe over, grimacing as the floorboards creak under me.

From the top of the steps, I see Alexis, grinning up at me. She smiles with every inch of her mouth, bearing every tooth at me. Coming from anyone else, it might be creepy, but the dimples in her cheeks cancel out the creepy factor. Her fire red hair reflects the red sun, making me squint even more.

"Where have you been?" she whispers, motioning for me to come to her. I groan, descending the stairs.

"Waiting on you, Lexi," I mumble, jumping off the last step into the soft sand.

Just like I can remember always being surrounded by the overwhelming ocean, I also remember Alexis always being there. The way our houses work, every building has an upstairs and downstairs apartment. Lexi's parents lived under mine, and they had a child around the same time. My childhood memories are red and freckled, filled with her brilliant white teeth and brown eyes that remind me of tree bark.

"I've been here for hours," she whispers with a wink, turning on her heels and walking away.

Today is Sunday, the only day children under sixteen years old don't go to school. Every Sunday, I meet Lexi at the bottom of the stairs; she's always late, and I'm always early.

"Q, come on," she says, noticing I haven't moved to follow her yet. I was waiting to see where she was going this week. I heave my feet up out of the sand, jogging to catch up with her.

Every Sunday, we scale the wall.

Compound 5 exists to protect it's citizens from a long dead virus. We haven't seen any infected within miles of the compound wall in years. When the virus broke out about fifteen years ago, it wiped out a lot of people the files say, leaving the United States relocated into ten different compounds. Yet, the virus died out over time. Scientists in 5 say that the infected ran out of food, because all of the humans were safe within the walls.

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