Before you read this chapter, I would like to introduce you to Ara a little bit. She is my favorite character because she is the one who changes the most throughout the story. In fact, literally everything that you read here is the exact opposite of the last chapter of the book. She is such a powerful person, but you have to give her time to develop into that character.
Nefelibata (n.) "cloud-walker;" one who lives in the clouds of their own imagination or dreams; one who does not obey the conventions of society, literature, and art
Reality is too harsh of an existence to live in, so I often escape to my own imagination. Stuck in the clouds of my own thoughts, I can escape the cruel reality of a society more concerned with changing yourself to fit the standards of conformity rather than accepting who you are and what you believe. If I am being honest, I don't feel like I have ever lost my identity; it simply has never existed.
I have never wanted to follow the rigid routine of society. It breaks and cracks me until I fit its mold, pushing me to the point where my only escape from the desperate sadness of reality was through my mind and my pen. The former was often dangerous, trapping me with my insecurities. The latter was often just as dangerous because words falling into the hands of the wrong people could be distorted beyond recognition. Leaving a permanent mark meant that the government could easily find me and deal out a punishment for my words. I guess you could say that I never knew freedom, not from society and certainly not from the government.
All my life, I broke myself until the shards of my personality could fit into society's expectations. I became a good girl. I became the perfect image of what our society told us to be. Not who, because that would imply we were our own individuals. We become a 'what' because it was just a neat set of expectations that society was instructed to follow.
Despite knowing that I was conforming, I still continued to play the role. When I was younger, I worked hard to follow directions, pay attention, and spread kindness, but I felt as if I was living a life that others wanted me to live instead of the life that I was supposed to live.
As I watched Luca pack his belongings into the make-shift bag, I realized that I had two choices and neither option looked particularly great. I could stay behind and be berated by the government and possibly locked up for being the good girl and not running away. Or I could run away and two things could happen. I could be captured and sentenced to death or I could make it out and get the chance to live without the constraints of society asking me to live a life that wasn't mine. I wouldn't bet on my ability to successfully escape from this place, but I still took the gamble. If I spend the rest of my life trying to make a living, I won't ever get the chance to truly live.
I didn't choose to go because I am some confident rebel. In fact, I am terrified. I chose to escape because I was ready to rewrite my life story. Luca doesn't know me, and I am hoping that this world will never know a story quite like mine, so welcome to the first chapter of my life. Welcome to the first chapter of truly living.
That chapter starts on cobblestone streets that are dimly lit by street lamps. The streets are quiet; no one is around, giving it an eerie feeling.
It wasn't the running several blocks or the sneaking onto the food truck that was difficult. It was the impending fear of being discovered. I am not a bold soul; I am an old soul. I am a rule-follower. Well, I guess I was a rule-follower. Now, as the food truck travels over the bumpy terrain, I fully realize that my life story may be short. In fact, it may only be one chapter if we get discovered.
Fear creeps in and sits on my stomach, making me feel sick. I lean my head against the wall of the truck, squeezing my eyes shut and blocking out this moment or the dreadful possibilities that could occur over the next several hours. Instead, I think farther into the future. I think about doing something because I actually want to do it. I think about freedom. I think about hope.
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The Hamartia ProjectAdventure
A group of teens living in separate societies with different governments grow to hate the controlling nature of their societies. Eight teens decide to escape beyond their cities into the forest in a final attempt to throw off the shackles of society...