CROWNS 1
The Longest Day of my Life
CHAPTER
1
Life stinks.
No, like, it literally stinks. I’m pretty sure no one in our family has taken a bath since the beginning of time. Not that I have either, but we can’t afford the extra water for such trivial things as bathing.
But today is not going to stink. Today is special. Today is my birthday. The day I turn 13. Lilliana James, 13 years old. It really has a nice ring to it.
The only thing I want is a mind piece. An electronic device, like an earring, that connects you to the entire world. Kind of like that old fashioned ‘internet” thing. I’ve been saving my money since I was four, when I first heard about them. I’ve been working summer jobs at the ice cream parlor down the street since I was five.
Yes, I worked as a five year old. My family owns the parlor, and since we are poor, I knew my parents would never be able to afford a mind piece for me. So I had to buy it myself.
I was a levelheaded kid. I knew what I wanted and I knew how to get it, so I worked hard, and saved money.
Mind pieces are $600. More than my family would get in an entire year. The LEA, or the Law Enforcement Agency, says that “everyone gets equal pay, no matter their rank,” but everyone knows three-pointers get the most, two-pointers get less and one-pointers get close to nothing.
Such is the life of a one pointer family. Our society is divided into three sections. The One Pointers, the Two Pointers, and the Three Pointers. Each family in the society gets a gold colored hat. The hat either has one, two or three points on it. The higher you were in the hierarchy, the more points on your family’s crown.
Anyways, from the money I saved since I was four, I now have
exactly $600. I worked extra hours, did everything that would earn me a cent more. My parents would smile down at me, proud of their hard-working child.
I look over at the clock on my wobbly bedside table. 5:43 in the morning. None of my family is up yet, which is perfect, since I am going to have to sneak out of the house.
Why? Because my family would NEVER EVER let me get a mind piece. They would want me to save my money for college. But I know that’s ridiculous. We’d never have enough money for college in the first place. Besides, the 600$ wouldn’t make a difference, even if I could go to college.
The windows are fairly easy to open. I grab the rusted crank and spin it clockwise. It screeches. Years of being stuck in the same place have made it lazy.
It makes an exceptionally loud noise and I hear a stirring on the side of the room. I turn, waiting. I have an excuse, but I have no need for it. My sister rolls over in her pile of blankets. I breathe a sigh of relief. If I can do this quietly and quickly, I won’t wake her up.
With a sickening pop, the window comes open. I lift it up carefully, until there is a hole wide enough for me to fit my body through.
I hop easily down to the ground, and take off running. The closest tech store is two blocks away. But I’m the fastest runner in the village. I can make it there by 6:00 at the latest.
The wind rushes through my hair. I peel a band off my wrist and tie it up. The more aerodynamic I am, the faster I go.
I arrive at the tech store at 5:58. Not even waiting to catch my breath, I pull the money from my pocket and walk inside.
Today is the day everything changes.
I pull the mind piece off the shelf and walk over to the cashier. The little golden earring is silky and smooth.
The cashier gives me a look of disgust, probably because of my dirt-slicked ponytail and grimy face. I give him a small grin and hand him the money. As soon as he sees the cash, he plasters a smile on his face. He bags the mind piece and prints a receipt, grinning like a clown all the while. As I walk out the door, he calls, “G’day, Ma’am!”. He looks around cautiously, then hastily stuffs several bills down his shirt.
Funny what money will do to people.
I walk into the nearest public bathroom and lock myself in a grungy stall. I pull my weathered little handheld mirror out of my pocket, the one with a crack straight down the middle. I pull my gold colored earrings out of my ears. The one’s I have worn since I was able to walk. My most prized possessions. Which wasn’t saying much, but now is not the time to be sentimental. That mind piece is mine.
I fit the gold mind piece, which, of course, looks exactly like my earrings, into my ear. It would have to look like my earrings, in order to fool my parents. It fit perfectly. Of course. All of the tech was form-fitting. I slipped one of my earrings back into my other ear.
Unlocking the stall door, I slipped back onto the street. The clock on a store window reads 6:15. Dang. My family wakes up NOW.
I sprint as fast as I can back to my house. My parents are outside, calling my name. My sister is up in her room. I run right up to them, not even thinking of an excuse. Something to note about me: I’m an EXCELLENT LEAr in the heat of the moment.
The conversation goes something like this:
ME: Excellent weather, isn’t it, Mom?
MOM: Cut the crap, Lilliana. Where on earth have you BEEN?
ME: Oh, just taking a run. You know how I love my exercise!
My mom didn’t answer to that. Not that I care if she believes me or not. I have what I want, and what I want is all that matters to me.
I smile at my mom, who gives me a cold, penetrating glare, and take off my scuffed up shoes. I run up the stairs, taking them too at a time.
This is when I come across a problem. My sister. She sits on her bed, stringing dirty blue beads into her hair.
“Jess,” I say. She gives me her cutesy little five year old grin that she gives everyone. “Would it be possible for you to leave?”
“No,” she says. “Mommy told me to stay up here for a little while.’
“Please, Jess. Leave,” She doesn’t budge. I make a face at her. I know I shouldn’t, but I also know her weaknesses. Being a five year old, she always takes everything seriously. If someone looks at her the wrong way, she would probably start crying. Jess gets up and runs down the stairs, assumably to complain to Mom.
Knowing that I only have limited time before Jess comes up, proclaiming that she “told Mommy on me,” I pull the manual out of my pocket. For all the time I have known about them, I have no idea how to operate a mind piece.
First, I tap the mind piece three times. Supposedly, a window is supposed to appear in front of my eyes.
A square, somewhat like those ancient “computer” things appears in front of me. The background is that of a beautiful city, it’s lights glowing and pulsing faintly, the night sky dark blue above it.
A box in the middle of the screen reads, “Welcome, user,” in a font that is statistically proven to soothe the mind (according to the packaging on the mind piece).
This is it. I have officially entered the world I have been waiting my entire life to be a part of.

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