The Red Dot | #WelcomeToTheBlumhouse

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"If you're old enough to drive, you're old enough to vote."

"You're not old enough to drive, you twit," Harley quipped from across the table, rolling her eyes at her younger brother.

Dad tried to admonish. "Harley—"

"But when I am—" Ross pushed his rimless glasses up his nose, fixing a rogue strand of hair along a part so sharp it would probably cut his scalp if he rolled the wrong way in his sleep, "—I want to be able to vote. This can happen if we fix the 26th Amendment. Dad, in 1971—"

"Yes, Ross, you will make an excellent voter," Dad said with a patient, lopsided grin. "But the problem with lowering the voting age is all the other sixteen year-olds in the country. They don't all have your smarts, kiddo."

Ross shrunk in his chair, deflated but not defeated.

Dad adjusted his own thick-framed glasses. "Plain and simple, kids just can't be trusted to vote correctly—"

"But, Dad—!"

"That's why we make such a big deal about your eighteenth birthday," Dad said, turning to his daughter. "You're old enough to understand the importance of loyalty to the Party."

"God bless the Party," Ross said with eager, practiced obedience.

"God bless the Party," Dad echoed softly, gaze fixed on Harley.

Needles walked down Harley's spine. The words were right there but she couldn't bring herself to spit them out—her throat felt like it had seized and bile was forcing its way up. Her hesitation turned her brother's head and she could practically see his ears perking up, waiting for her to speak the words.

Dad's bright blue eyes glistened and he offered his daughter a smile that was as cold as it was soulless. "It's a big day, Harley. I know you'll do us proud."

"God bless the Party, Harley," Ross pressed.

Harley swallowed hard. She had to say the words. "... God bless—"

Harley's voice hitched and her vision went fuzzy. She blinked rapidly, trying to focus her sight. As the two worlds merged back together, a blurry red dot lingered in the right corner of her right eye. She blinked again, but the red dot remained whether her eyes were open or closed.

Ross was a dog with a bone. Or a brat with a ball. "God bless the Par—"

"Here comes the cake!"

Mom stepped out of the kitchen with a sheet cake ablaze under eighteen candles and Harley let out a breath she didn't know she was holding. This was a welcome reprieve, but time was running short.

Her jerk of a little brother knew, that was for sure.

Dad seemed to have a pretty good idea.

Mom would be worst of all.

Harley eyeballed the unnecessarily sharp knife Mom would use to cut her birthday cake. Dad slid a blank voter registration form across the table.

"Happy birthday, sweetie," he said, holding out a pen.

Mom placed the cake on the table next to the form.

"God bless the Party, Harley."

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