Sorry things have been so wonky on the blog the past couple weeks. Break + holidays = weirdness. (I mean, look at this–I’m posting a Wordy Wednesday on Christmas Day. Who saw this one coming?) (*cough* Anyone with a calendar. Which apparently does not include me. *cough*)
For Christmas this year, amongst some other fantastic gifts (Kira sent me probably the comfiest, cutest scarf known to mankind), I got like fifteen new books (aaand some B&N gift cards, which I am already itching to use), vegan black “leather” boots and a jacket that I am super excited to wear as part of my costume for seeing the Divergent movie, and just about the coolest surprise ever–a full-size copy of the gorgeous Catching Fire IMAX poster, which my parents shipped from Thailand. We’re framing it. Because I am in love with the complexity and symbolism of this thing. So much.
Of course, though, the best part of Christmas isn’t the gifts, but getting to spend so much time with my family. 🙂 I hadn’t seen some of my relatives in a really long time, so it’s been nice getting to hang out with them again.
1) You have until New Year’s to enter my 2nd Blogiversary giveaway, which you can access here. I’m giving away signed copies of books by the lovely and talented Ally Carter and Kat Zhang and I’d love to send one to you, so go enter!
2) I’m going on a social media hiatus from tomorrow through the end of my break from school, so I won’t be around for the next couple weeks. However, I’ve got an awesome guest post by an awesome fellow blogger coming your way to make up for it, so watch out for that next Wednesday. (If anyone super urgently needs to contact me while I’m on my hiatus, I will occasionally check my email, so feel free to send me a message. Just know I won’t read anything or reply unless it’s something, you know, important and time sensitive.)
Now, to the purpose of today’s post: Wordy Wednesday. Based on the most recent poll, the winning option for this week’s WW is a new chapter from my NaNoWriMo project, The End Where I Begin.
As always, a reminder that this has seen little to no editing and I’m still in the process of writing the novel, so there will be mistakes and inconsistencies and all that fun stuff throughout.
Read previous chapters:
A fish tank gurgles in the corner of the waiting room. It is the only sound. Macy Pen types silently on a tablet worth more than all the houses on my block in Riverhorn combined. Everything about the waiting room of office suite 4581 is sleek and expensive.
The lights are halogen rather than fluorescent. The floor is polished black marble. The door leading to the offices in the suite is made of swirling, dark mahogany.
I shift, uncomfortable in the baggy, dark green trousers and white button-down blouse that make up my school uniform. My shoe squeaks against the marble.
“It’ll be just a moment longer,” Macy assures me, even-toned, without looking up from her tablet.
My jaw aches and my fingers itch with the urge to touch it. I slide my hands beneath my thighs, let the pressure drive the urge out of them. When I looked in the mirror this morning, my skin was puffy and the purple of grape soda.
Ramsey is somewhere within this building right now. Hopefully nowhere near this office suite.
My pulse pounds in my wrist, skin pinched tight between my leg and the Identiband. Sweat gathers along my hairline. I’m glad I thought to braid back my curly, coffee-brown mop today, to keep it from frizzing as badly. My bangs are pinned back from my high forehead with a school-approved headband in place as an extra measure of restraint.
Macy Pen still looks at me like I am too feral a creature to sit in one of her waiting room chairs. Maybe the Clinic will change their minds about recruiting me because I could never look as polished and anonymous as the recruiting officers who visit the schools every year.
A latch clicks somewhere beyond the door beside the secretary desk. Macy turns, nods at someone, and looks back at me. She doesn’t smile. “Doctor O’Brien will see you now.” She presses something on her tablet and the mahogany door buzzes as it unlocks.
I walk with stiff legs across the waiting room, glance one last time at the goldfish swimming in lazy circles in the corner, and open the door. On the other side is a long hallway lined with doors much like the first one, green lights glowing above about half of them.
I have never been inside an office suite of the Clinic before. The New Capital school district takes elementary students on tours of the public areas once a year in October, just before the Recruitment Assembly, but generally only government employees are ever granted access to the inner workings of the building.
Amelia will love to hear about all this once it’s over. I’ve been excused from school for the morning for this meeting, but as soon as it’s done I’m supposed to take the subway straight to NCH and return to class. I hope I’m back in time for lunch.
I turn to Macy to ask where I’m supposed to go, but her head is lowered over the tablet, fingers tapping, dark hair shielding her eyes from mine. I step forward and she still doesn’t say a word. With a deep breath, I make my way down the hall.
The second to last door from the end, on the left, is leaned open instead of latched shut. I raise a tentative hand to knock, but before I can touch knuckle to wood, it swings open.
A man stands on the other side. He is short, with thin black hair buzzed close to his scalp and a pair of reading glasses slipping down his nose. He wears dark brown scrubs and a white lab coat so starched it barely moves with his arm as he holds out his left hand. I get a flash of his Identiband—polished so that the light is almost blinding as it slips out from beneath his sleeve.
“Hello, Miss Dylan. I am Doctor O’Brien.”
I take his hand. My tongue feels thick. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
He gives a minute shrug and gestures to the shallow room behind him. “Please do come in.”
It’s at the sound of these words, the way the cadence of his voice curls around them, that I realize he’s the male recruiting officer from the Recruitment Assembly. The one who was new this year.
I didn’t realize recruiting officers also worked as scientists, and a scientist he clearly is as I follow him into the room.
His office is a small lab, more like a physician’s examination room than anything else. Plain white plaster walls contrast with the continuing black marble floor, and a stainless steel table, seemingly too thin to actually support the weight of a person, juts from the wall beside the door. Along the far wall is a row of glass cabinets, full with yellowing text books and polished steel medical apparatus. He walks to the sink and scrubs his hands.
“Please do take a seat, Miss Dylan.” He nods at the table.
I swallow and lift myself onto it. He slips on a pair of latex gloves and sits on the swivel chair beside the desk in the corner.
“Tell me,” he meets my eye and holds his gaze there, “how much do you know about why you are here today?”
I force a shrug despite the nervous tremor running down my arms. I wrap my fingers around the lip of the table to steady them. “Just what the secretary wrote in her message. You’d like to speak with me about what occurred at the Recruitment Assembly yesterday?”
He nods. “Precisely. However, what I’d truly like to learn is how much you know about that.”
“What do you mean?” The air in this room is cool and smells of antiseptic—sharp, bitter. I shiver.
“I mean, what do you know about Miss Ramsey Carp’s motives in attacking you at such a pivotal time in not just the assembly, but your life as well? The decision to accept or decline the invitation to join the Clinic is a big one—I know because I made it once myself.” He smiles, and the expression is so genuine I don’t believe it coming from him. “I understand that you were surprised to hear your name called by my partner, because you are only a year eleven, and we rarely invite anyone below the year twelves. But is that the reason Miss Carp attacked you? Was it out of jealousy? Or did something else provoke the attack?”
I can’t hold back the laugh that bubbles past my lips. “Believe me,” I say. He cocks his head. “The attack had nothing to do with announcing my name. Ramsey Carp is a psychopath, and she hates me because we used to be friends before she lost it.”
“You were once friends with Miss Carp?” He pulls a tablet off the desk and types something on it.
“Of course.” I lift my wrist. “Didn’t our Identibands tell you that?”
He looks up quickly at this question, eyes jumping from the tablet screen to my face. “Well, yes,” he stammers. “Of course. It’s just good to hear the words come from you, yourself, to verify.”
“Verify?” I squint. I wrap my fingers back around the table. “The Identibands record all our messages, our calendars, and are connected with our nervous systems—you know when my heart races because I’m excited or my palms sweat because I’m nervous. I was friends with Ramsey for eleven years—ever since year zero. That was back when they still called it ‘kindergarten.’ Surely you don’t need word of mouth verification that the crazy girl and I were unfortunately friends.”
Dr. O’Brien takes off his glasses and folds them into the lapel pocket of his lab coat. He rubs the back of his neck.
“Generally, that would be true.” His gaze darts around the room—anywhere but at me. “Except that when questioned, Ramsey Carp said she barely knew you. Despite all the information collected from both of your Identibands, she said she had only spoken to you once in her life. Last May.”
Merry Christmas again, if you celebrate, and Happy Holidays in general if you don’t! Talk to you in the new year. 🙂