Chapter 4

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As I sprint out of the room, I catch site of a clock. The examination was supposed to have taken fifteen minutes, but it ended up being two hours. Cassia and Susan are nowhere in sight; they must have gone on home. I don't blame them. I'd want to leave here as soon as possible, too.

It is mid-afternoon, the sun high in the sky and a nice breeze blowing. I would actually enjoy today if I wasn't on the brink of insanity. While tears flow steadily down my face, I run through the city to nowhere in particular. I just run, run to feel free, run to feel like I am actually getting away. I need to think. I need to clear my head.

Where I have run to brings me to an abrupt stop. I am at the edge of the circle, and the woods loom in front of me. We are forbidden to go into the woods, for it is the only place shared by both sides of the circle. I know I should turn back, but I am so full of anger and rage at the rules of the Council that I feel I must defy them in some way. Without giving it another thought, I slip into the forest.

Wow. I like this place. The forest is huge, with sounds of nature around every corner and trees towering overhead. I see green everywhere, and for once, my eyes don't look so out of place anymore. A smile breaks out on my face, and I venture deeper into this new place. Never have I breathed in air as fresh as this, never have I seen the beauty of nature like this. I explore more and more and more until I come across something: another person.

I have come to a ledge, and this person sits on the ground with his legs crossed and his back towards me. I then come to my senses. What am I doing here? I have to go back. I slowly back up, but I accidentally step on a twig that snaps very loudly. The person quickly turns around, and his eyes find mine.

There is a moment in life when time stands absolutely still, and nothing but you can make it go again. Locking eyes with him was one of these moments. He had brown eyes, short but floppy brown hair, and he was lean, but he also had muscles. His eyes got wide, like a secret he had been trying to keep had just gone public. "I...um...I...I wasn't in here to get away...um...I'm...uh...doing research for a field project," he stutters. "It's ok. I'm here to get away too," I reassure him. He smiles, now that he knows I can be trusted.

He gestures his hand to a spot next to him, and I sit down. "This is the best view in the house," he says to me. He points to the horizon, and I follow his finger. The evening sun sets over the jagged mountains, making the sky a brilliant shade if orange. He smiles at the site, and I smile too. Then, he looks at me. "What's your name?" He asks. "I'm Julia Lancaster. What about you?" I reply. "Peter Heights. Nice to meet someone who shares my hatred of the government," he replies with a smile. Puzzled, I ask him, "How did you know that I-" "It's my power," he cuts me off.

He shows me his palm, and engraved on his hand is a tattoo of an eye. "All I have to do is lock eyes with someone, and I instantly know everything about them. I know their strengths and their weaknesses, I know what gives their life meaning, and I know what they try to hide," Peter informs me.

Inching away from him, I uncomfortably say, "Well, I guess you have me all figured out now." "I just know about you. I don't know you personally. I do know that you have the power of domination," Peter says.

I back away from him even more, and I see that I have just met someone that I am not supposed to. He wears a black shirt, he has scars on his hands, and he's got that mischievous glow in his eyes. "You're from the dark side, aren't you?" I ask him. Peter simply nods his head, but he doesn't look proud of it. "I am, but I don't want to be. I'm not like everyone else on that side, and I take a lot of persecution for it. They encourage me to steal, lie, cheat, and fight. I steal food and give it to the poor, I lie about doing it, I cheat out the rich so I can use their wealth for others, and I fight when people try to stop me. I'm different, you see," he states.

"When it becomes too hard to bear, I just slip in here, and nobody ever notices. This is where I can be myself, this is where I am free. What about you?" Peter asks. I hesitate for a moment, wondering if he's trying to lure me in so he can hurt me like we are told people from the dark side do. However, I'm so full of anger and sadness that I have to let it out. I came here to clear my head anyway.

"Today was my Day of Choice. I was nervous, and for good reason, because I'm different, too. The Council recognized it, so they gave me the power of domination. I can control any power and use anyone else's power against them. The thing is, I don't want to do that. I don't want any power at all, I don't even want to live in this society, and I want to have a say in my own life!" I scream. Then, Peter does something I wouldn't expect him to. He smiles. "I finally found someone like me," he says with a grin.

We sit in silence for a moment, staring at each other. I'm sure he's evaluating me more and more, and I try to do the same, but I don't know how. I guess he'll tell me more about himself when the moment presents itself. Then, he gets up and says, "Now is usually about the time I sneak back home before someone notices. I guess I get to go fight other people's battles for them now." I nod my head in agreement, and we walk out of the forest together along the path where I found my way to him.

Before he goes his own way, he turns and looks at me one last time. "You know, if you ever need to get away again, you could always come back to the woods. I come here every day for an hour at 2:00. We can both yell at the top at our lungs about how we hate the Council, and no one can stop us," he says. I hope he doesn't see me blush as I say, "I'd like that." He begins to walk away, but I hear him say to me one last thing: "You have nice eyes. Don't be ashamed of them."

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