"Before you can break out of prison, you must first realize you're locked up." - Unknown
When I arrived home after school I immediately went to my room. I needed some time alone. Quietly, I walked down the hall to the last door on the right and stepped inside the room, not bothering to turn the light on. My room was my safe haven. Posters covered almost every inch of the wall along with photos I had taken over the years. A large pile of books in varying sizes pressed against the wall sat nezt to my full-sized bed.
I dropped my backpack next to my bedroom door and then shuffled over to my unmade bed. I fell onto it and just lay there for a moment, taking in deep breaths. My head had begun to hurt and I knew a migraine would not be far off. There was some medicine in my bathroom that I could take for it, but I did not really want to.
Sighing, I rolled over onto my back and looked at the ceiling. A poster of a man sitting with a guitar stared back down at me. Jack Johnson, my dad's favorite artist. I rested there for a moment, closing my eyes tightly. The migraine had begun to sink its way into my head. My neck grew tense and the pain pulsed behind my left eye. Finally, I gave up and went to take something for it. But, it was not any special medicine. I had found a simple bottle of ibuprofen and stashed it away in my bathroom.
I took two pills and washed it down with water from the bathroom sink.
Ibuprofen was the only medicine I took, and only if absolutely necessary. I never told my parents about my migraines. Who knew what would happen? I looked up at myself in the large bathroom mirror and wondered about the girl who looked back at me. Was she truly normal? What did it mean to be normal in a flawed world? Or, was I different for my immunity?
I stepped away from the mirror, not wanting to think any more about what it meant to live in this new world. The best thing I could do was pretend. True, it was not an ideal existence. Still, it kept me safe from that horrible medicine. No matter how much I wanted to just be my normal self, I never would get that chance. The only way to survive was to be outwardly similar. As long as I resembled the world around me I could still be me, even if it was not very much.
"Dinner!" Mom shouted, knocking on my door.
When I walked into the dining room Dad was already sitting at his usual spot with Mom right next to him. They were discussing something. I sat down in my chair and looked at the food. There were some of my favorites: potatoes au gratin, chicken, and green bean casserole. Then there were the things I hated: green peas, cranberries, and salad. I piled food onto my plate, Mom watching me carefully. Dad moved like a zombie as he scooped some potatoes onto his plate.
Something didn't feel right, but I couldn't understand what it was.
"Do you like the food display?" Dad asked, looking up at me with tired eyes.
I frowned. "Um, yes?"
Mom nodded her head. "Mr. Davidson called an hour ago and told us about that poor girl from your school," she said, buttering a roll. "He wanted to make sure that all the students were getting the food they needed and for us parents to make sure you eat healthy." Mom stopped buttering the roll and looked right at me. "How are you feeling, Avery? Is there anything you need to talk about?"
Anything? What about how I take fake medicine? Or, that society manipulates us? Maybe, I could tell her that I just want to have a normal conversation with her and Dad without feeling like they're just waiting to pounce on a new flaw?
Instead, I shook my head. "No." At that moment I should have pretended. I should have suddenly felt like my physical appearance was horrible and that I desperately want to go the gym. But, I'm too tired. I took a bite of potatoes au gratin and looked down at my plate.
"Mrs. Brown, is there anything I can get for you?" Petya asked, walking into the dining room.
Mom shook her head. "No, thank you Petya."
I looked up at the woman and that's when I see the younger woman standing at her side, looking obedient. She couldn't be more than a few years older than me. Her wavy, blonde hair was tied into a loose bun and her unnaturally colored eyes stared straight ahead at the distant wall. She wore a simple, black, knee-length skirt and dark blue, button-up blouse. She looked severe with her high cheekbones and lips in a thin line.
"Come, Sophie," Petya said, addressing the young woman,
Only then did she move. Her gaze flickered over my parents and then she looked at me before turning to face Petya. "Yes," she said.
"Petya is training her," Mom explained once the two were out of the room.
"Oh," I said.
"Petya is such a saving grace," Mom continued.
Next to her Dad ate his food silently. Without knowing it, a tension had built up in the room. It would be difficult not to notice the way my parents acted around each other. I had a gut feeling about what their next flaw would be.
"How was school?" Mom asked, her smile a little too bright and her tone a little too eager.
I barely opened my mouth when Dad suddenly sat back from the table. He threw his napkin down and stood up. I watched as he stalked out of the dining room. There was some stomping and then the front door slammed shut.
Mom's smile wavered and then she dropped her silverware. She covered her face with her hands and rested her elbows on the table. Never had I seen her look so uncomposed.