Janessa Prescott

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There are a few ways in Enchancia to make it loud and clear to someone that they have wake up: one, the blare of the gong telling everyone to come to get breakfast before rations go scant; two, the blare of an alarm clock. So, when the dormitory alarm clock goes ringing like hell at four in the morning, my body says to do anything but get up. 

"Morning," Luna coos. Her fingers trail down my neck. Her short, mahogany waves brush against my cheek. 

I slide out of bed and trek a few feet to the oak dresser. Each one of us is allotted a drawer. Mine is top left. I glance at McKayla as I open my drawer. "Isn't it a bit early for our alarm clock to go off?" 

McKayla looks up from her lap at me. "Well, yeah." She nods her head and slips her arms through the long sleeves of her black, leather jacket. "But I guess she wants to meet the newb." 

"Who wants to meet me?" chimes Amity. I glance over my shoulder. She stands in front of the door in soccer shorts and a lace camisole; hands lace together at her waistline. Unkempt, vibrant red curls spill down the sides of her fresh face and neck and along her shoulders. 

I blink a few times while gathering my breath. Is this the same girl who threatened to kill Belisma Poppins last night if we didn't cease from the chanting of our species' preponderance? This girl—this woman, I should say—glows with innocence, not iniquity. 

"Someone you don't wanna encounter when you break a rule." I shudder at the very idea of her punishments. Few survive to tell the tale of their detention. It makes my body tremble, imagining my life in her hands. 

I turn away from Amity and grab my clothes. My muscle tank displays the sides of my sports bra. I slip into a pair of baggy shorts, which people always seem to mistake for men's boxers. Then, I rest on the headboard of my bunk: there, I wrap rainbow sweatbands around each wrist and lace up my cleats. 

Finally clothed, I lurch forward from my bed, grabbing a bottle of purple liquid from the surface over the drawers in one hand, and pinching a tiny, medicine cup in the other. The purple liquid goes in the medicine cup, and I pour the contents into my throat, gargling it.

"What are you doing?" asks Amity once I've spat the disgusting fluid onto the floor. Her face peeks out of the collar of her tunic. 

"Gargling mouthwash," I explain. I show her the bottle and medicine cup. Instead of her face lighting up, she tilts her head to the side; her blonde brow furrows. I shake my head to hide my sigh. 

"An antiseptic solution used to reduce the microbial burden in the oral cavity," Quinn tells Amity. With her explanation, the new girl seemingly reaches a point of understanding about the mouthwash: her brow is no longer furrowed, and she nods her head. "For us, it's a substitute for brushing our teeth since we have no bathroom." 

"You brush your teeth?" Amity says, her voice rising in sync with the widening of her upturned eyes. 

"We used to," Quinn replies. She struts over to me and grabs the bottle and medicine cup. "But this mouthwash is laced with sodium fluoride, which is a chemical common in toothpaste. Toothpaste is what cleans our teeth." 

"Okay," Amity says, "le'me try."

I watch Quinn pour a dram of the mouthwash into the medicine cup and hand it to Amity. Amity tips her head back, and I hear a gurgling sound come from her. After a moment, there's the sound of spitting followed by a sequence of gagging. 

"Horrible, eh?" I ask with a chuckle. 

Amity looks at me, nodding as she wipes the remaining drops from her lips. "Yeah. Horrible." 

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