Ten: Chapter 3

Transcript Transmission: 5:00 pm 4016.2.27

NAMES: CAMERON SPENCER HAVER. JUNO DIANA EAVES.

REASON: CEREMONY OF RULES COMPLETE.

INSPECTION NOT REQUIRED. BOTH LOYAL, LETTERS READ ALOUD.

RULES CEREMONY: HAVER RESIDENCE 12:00 PM EARLIER TODAY.

EXPECTED WATCHER ATTENDANCE: 12

ACTUAL WATCHER ATTENDANCE: 11, JAMES CALLWATER ILL

PRIORITY: 0.1

SPECIAL NOTES:

NOTHING TO REPORT.

NO RETURN CORRESPONDENCE REQUIRED.

 

Day Two: Diary of Juno Eaves

Yesterday was a whirlwind.  I did not have time to journal last night about my Ceremony, so I will do so now.  Before I begin, I must preface this by saying that what I am about to write is not what happened “officially.”  It is what actually happened, but hopefully no one else will ever know.

I know that by writing the truth in this journal, I am from now on going to constantly worry about whose hands hold this journal, and which eyes peruse its contents.  This journal is my co-conspirator in events that may in the future prove life-threatening.

Now that I’ve gotten the terribleness off of my chest, I can at least say that the Ceremony was actually quite nice.  Mom and Dad were obviously nervous, but I think by the end they at least settled down enough to swallow some of the chocolate cake.  They were expecting the worst.  The worst, according to the official record, did not happen.

My letter is still unopened, and it is lying at the bottom of the hidden compartment in the back of my closet.  There it will stay until I see fit to otherwise remove it.  It must not be opened.

Of course, I did read a letter aloud at the ceremony.  It just wasn’t mine.  It was all made up.

******

When I got to Cam’s house, festive orange and yellow balloons stretched toward the sky eagerly, but were held fast by tight ribbon strings.  There was something probably symbolic about it, but I was too nervous to care at the time.  Cam was sitting on the front porch steps waiting for me, and he was wearing his funeral suit.  It’s the only suit he has, but the only place that has been appropriate for him to wear it until now is at funerals.  I tried not to see something symbolic about this either.

Cam straightened his black tie and grinned tightly when he saw me.  Clearly he was just as worried as I was.  He shook light hair out of his brown eyes and gave me a quick hug.  We didn’t say anything – our expressions were more articulate than we could ever be.

As we walked inside, I could smell Cam’s mother’s roast mixed with the striking fragrance of lilies.  My pulse began to jump from an ambulatory pace to a jogging one.  There were already quite a few people here – I must have been late again.

Family friends, Cam’s uncles and cousins, my parents, and the Watchers were mingling uncomfortably, passing the time by remarking on irrelevant topics.  What they really came for was a show, and Cam and I were the stars.  I watched one of the Watchers talking morosely with one of Cam’s multitudinous cousins (he probably has about fifteen).  The Watchers dressed in black and red robes that draped heavily to the floor.  They wore delicate silver masks over their eyes to conceal their identities.  The identity of a Watcher was secret knowledge, and only other Watchers knew each other outside of their masked day-jobs.

The Watcher noticed me staring, and I dropped my eyes immediately, pretending to fuss with the button clasped belt on my yellow dress.  Watchers made me nervous, and for good reason.  If they knew I wasn’t planning on following my Rules and could prove it to the government, I could be locked up for life for endangering the society, even though technically choosing to live independent of Rules is not illegal. Our society merely dislikes unpredictable people that don’t follow their Rules.

A makeshift podium had been set up in front of the mantelpiece in the living room.  In mere minutes, I would be reading a letter up there and pleasing a population of Watchers I did not trust.

It had begun to rain lightly outside, and the few stragglers who arrived brushed raindrops from their hair and pinched their faces up in discomfort. I tried not to panic as the rooms of Cam’s house became more and more crowded.  I started to tremble.  Luckily, my mother stuffed a plateful of cake into my hands at that very moment.  We exchanged a fleeting glance that said something between thank you and don’t look scared.

I felt the room begin to simultaneously fill up and shrink.  Air bottlenecked in my throat, and I glanced at Cam, hoping for a distraction from my worry, but he was busy talking to one of his cousins.  I took a bite of cake to avoid the pressure to talk to anyone, and as soon as one of the Watchers moved away from the backyard sliding glass door, I seized an opportunity.

I let the door glide across the track silently, then slipped out onto Cam’s small concrete patio to get a breath of rain-scented air.  I set my plate of cake on the table, suddenly disgusted with it, and heaved a dramatic sigh.

“It’s not the end of the world,” said a partially familiar voice.

I spun in a complete circle, my yellow dress whirling around my knees.  I saw a smudge of a person in my three-sixty sweep, and stopped abruptly when I noticed a flash of silver.

There was a man in Cam’s backyard.  He was slightly taller than me and wore a silver mask.  A silver Watcher mask.  But he wasn’t wearing traditional garb – he was dressed in a neat gray suit and a navy tie.

“You scared me,” I finally said, putting a shaking hand to my neck to surreptitiously check my racing pulse.  I was tempted to ask who he was, but the mask rendered that question useless.  He’d never tell me.

“I apologize for startling you.  I’m trying to keep a low profile, and figured it would be better to wait for you outside.”

“Why?” I crossed my arms.

“Because I have something to give you that no one else should see.”  The man plucked a sealed white envelope from his jacket pocket and extended it to me.

I didn’t take it.

“I don’t have much time.  Come on, take the letter, Juno.  Please.”

“Why?” I asked again.

“This is what you’re going to read when you do your Ceremony of Rules, Juno.  I know you don’t want to read your real letter.  Read this one instead.  It’s fake, but no one will know.”

My stomach twisted.

I took a deep breath – so deep that my toes felt fresh air – and stepped forward until his face was inches from mine.

“How did you know about that?”

His eyes were dark brown, but in that moment, they were shining with smugness.  He smiled again.  “It doesn’t matter.  I’m not going to tell anyone.”

“How am I supposed to trust you?”

He pulled out something else from his pocket.  It was a slip of green paper – my favorite green paper that my parents bought me for my birthday last year.  I took it slowly, and read the following:

Juno, you can trust him.

-Future Juno

It was in my handwriting.

Wordlessly, the man slipped a white envelope into my numb hands and began to walk to the back of Cam’s yard, where a dilapidated wood fence gave way to a wire gate.  I only recovered once he was long gone.

The note was monumental.  It meant my future self had transmitted another message via the Timepiece. That was supposedly impossible and illegal.  Not to mention reckless.  But it was totally something I would do.

Thoroughly convinced, I decided to go back inside.  My fate was still up to me – my real letter would remain a secret.  But everyone else would be convinced it was real, and would stop worrying about me.  Even the Watchers.  Especially the Watchers.

******

And that is how I came to read a letter aloud at my Ceremony of Rules.  It was delicately falsified, and everyone believed it, even Cam.  No one will ever know it was a false one.  I won’t even write down what it said – none of it was real and therefore will not happen.

But more mysteries remain at large for me.  I need to do some investigating to find that Watcher again.  My future self trusted him with that contraband note.  But how could I possibly trust a Watcher?  

I must adjourn until tomorrow.  Mom is asking me to go get the mail.

 

 



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