Enervate: Verb: 1: To reduce the mental or moral vigor of 2: To lessen the vitality or strength of
“Honey! It’s time to wake up!” Mom calls from the other side of the door.
“Muh,” I groan like Frankenstein’s monster. She laughs heartily and I hear her footsteps quiet as she walks away from the door.
I don’t want to wake up.
How can she laugh at a time like this, anyway?
Dragging myself out of bed, I walk over to my full-length mirror to examine myself before donning my library assistant uniform. After rationing and mandatory physical training took effect, my whole family lost weight. I wish I could actually enjoy it, but it’s not like it really matters whether or not I’m attractive to the opposite gender when I’m going to be assigned a husband in a little over ten hours anyway.
With a sigh, I walk to my closet and pull out the white jumpsuit and the long navy blue suit jacket I’m required to wear at the resource desk of the library. Pulling my hair back into a chignon, I pin it in place with a butterfly clip. Each day, we are allowed one personal accessory to wear in public. A wedding band won’t count since it will be added to my uniform after the ceremony.
Applying the requisite foundation, blush, nude eye color, mascara, and clear lip gloss, I consider what my husband might be like. Sometimes they pair opposites, like Mom and Dad. She is a history teacher and my dad is a car mechanic. Sometimes they go for similarities. Law enforcement partners are often matched. This time, though, it could go very differently for me.
At the beginning of the year, they started pairing some of us with them. My best friend, Tammena got matched with one and I haven’t seen her since. She was in last quarter’s coupling event. Although we knew we wouldn’t be in the same event, there was the hope we could at least stay near each other, so we could remain friends.
Standing in front of my closet again, I trace my fingers over the white chiffon of my ceremonial dress. It shouldn’t have surprised me when they made the announcement near the end of last year that they would be taking some of our own. Although they never came out and said it, many assumed that was their reasoning for invading our world: their distinct lack of females.
The takeover was swift and chaos was rampant for a few days while they took control, but once we got it through our heads that resistance was, indeed, futile, people slowly began to fall in line. There are rumors of a resistance, but if they’re doing anything, they’re not doing much to make a dent.
I sluff my way down the stairs and plop into a chair at the table, where a bowl of vanilla yogurt and granola wait for me. At least breakfast is good today.
“Come on, sweetie. You need to enervate yourself. It’s a big day today,” Mom prods.
“First of all, that word doesn’t mean what you think it means. Second, why should I be excited? I’m going to end up like Tammena. They’re going to take me away and–”
“Stop,” Mom hushes me with wide eyes. “You never know when they’re listening,” she whispers.
Shoving the bowl away from me, I get up to leave.
“You must eat your food, Lorena Wood,” a male voice resounds from the speaker in the living room. “Please be seated and resume your meal.”
Swallowing down an infuriated growl, I take my seat again. Mom gives me a warning look and I pull the bowl back to myself. Like a soldier, I eat the food quickly, not saying another word to the woman. She may have given birth to me, but she’s insane if she thinks I’m excited for this sham of a match.
“It could be good for you, to end up with one of them.”
I give her an incredulous look, pinch my lips together, and run out the door, slamming it behind me before she can say anything else. Good for me? Good to be told what to do for the rest of my life? Good to be forced to bear children of someone I don’t know? Good to be matched with an alien from outer space, who just happens to have enough DNA in common with me to be compatible.
No. This isn’t good for me. There’s no way it will be good for me.