We leave at six o'clock in the morning. A bus comes to transport the four Companionships in our Lodging to the Assignment Center.
Hailey, Jalen, and I sit in the seats in the back. They're the furthest from the Outsiders. As the Outsiders board the bus, their eyes are drawn to us like magnets. Each one sneaks a quick glance before averting their eyes. Even they can't resist the temptation to look at a group of three.
"I hate the attention we're getting. I made eye contact with two Outsiders," Hailey whispers.
I sigh. "Calm down, Hailey. They looked at us first."
After last night, a yearning for change sprouted inside of me. The way Derrick was acting before he left, I feel the same way now. Because of him, there's nothing I want more than to rid myself of this Companionship as soon as possible.
Everyone is dressed up. We want to make a good first impression on our new Companions, although it doesn't actually matter. It's not like a bad first impression will make it possible to switch Companionships.
I put on a black skirt and a mint green blouse. Hailey managed to straighten my unnaturally frizzy hair and accessorized it with a muted jade headband. She's wearing a tight aquamarine dress that matches her eye color perfectly. Jalen sits to my right in slacks and a burgundy polo. Against my will, I imagine Derrick sitting beside me wearing his signature stained white t-shirt and ripped jeans. He wouldn't have tried to look nice.
The drive only takes ten minutes. The bus rolls to a stop and the Outsiders file out. We follow, but I pause to thank the Serf that drives the bus before I exit. Her face is youthful, but wrinkles reside underneath her eyes. All I get is a grunt in reply.
Serfs line the sidewalk leading to the center, reminding the younger Companionships where to go. The Adolescent Assignment Center is a flat, white concrete building. It's surrounded by metallic feats of architecture that nearly tickle the clouds. Next to the skyscrapers, it looks like an ant, but its presence is more commanding than any of the taller buildings.
I stare straight ahead, not wanting to look at Hailey or Jalen. My burst of excitement for change is already wearing away. A whole year. I spent a whole year with them and within thirty minutes, they'll be out of my life forever.
We reach the intricate wrought iron doors that adorn the entrance to the center. The endless spirals of iron weave in and out of each other, all of the parts connected to one another.
"Are you three Olive, Jalen, and Hailey of Companionship 4 from Lodging #41350?" a petite woman asks. She's wearing a red uniform, the mark of a Serf.
"Yes," Jalen answers.
The woman motions for us to move forward, but I notice the apprehensive look she casts at us while we walk away. It's identical to all of the stares we're receiving.
YOU ARE READING
Olive JuiceScience Fiction
η. olive juice [ol-iv-joos] a term commonly mistaken for the words "i love you" when silently mouthed to another * * * Four people. Two boys. Two Girls. One year. A Companionship. In a society where prejudice and exclusion are the roots of all evil...