Day Negative One: Diary of Juno Eaves
For my twentieth birthday, my parents gave me this diary. It feels strange to receive such a juvenile gift, especially on the brink of my adulthood. But tonight I sit in my chair in the dining room and write this in front of my parents. I’ve decided this diary shall be a record of my life after my letter comes tomorrow.
Our society values words above anything else. Perhaps that is why my parents spent the last of my childhood Allowance on this small black empty book. My parents are nervous, and they think the journal will help me cope with what is ahead.
They are worried I will not handle the Ceremony of the Rules with the grace of those before me. I tend to be slightly disrespectful of authority. It says so in my File at the Presidential Palace.
Should my parents worry about me? Probably. Tomorrow is the Ceremony of the Rules, where I become an adult and inherit my destiny. But I’m one of the few that thinks destiny shouldn’t be inherited. It should be achieved.
My friend Cam says that I am the most dangerous person he’s ever met. He says this not because I am a skilled assassin or a criminal mastermind. He says this because he thinks I’m going to get myself killed someday doing something stupid. And, Cam has never confessed to it, but I know he thinks I’ll get him killed someday too. He’s hoping that tomorrow I change my mind and decide to follow my Rules.
The Ceremony of Rules was established after the President discovered time travel. It was meant to be kept a secret, so naturally everyone found out almost immediately. To keep up with media demands for information, time travel was immediately hailed as a panacea. A way to save the future by ensuring the past.
The Timepiece, the time travel device, can only transport written words into the past. There is some inexplicable persistence in thought and written word that allows it to survive the passing and rewinding of years. Paper, written by hand, in ink. That is all that can make it through the portal and into history.
The President was too impatient to invent travel to the future before he sold the Timepiece to the Watchers, our government representatives. And the Watchers established the Rules.
During your lifetime, you are allowed to send one, and only one, list of ten Rules written in a letter. Your past self will open this letter on their twentieth birthday. The list becomes a life plan; ten actions you must take to make sure your life turns out one specific way. And it is strongly recommended that you follow the Rules.
Upon receiving your letter during the Ceremony of Rules, you then decide whether or not to stray into the unpredictable. The letter is your only chance to get things you’re expecting, and usually no one wants to mess with that system. Once you choose, there’s no turning back.
No one disregards their ten Rules anymore. There’s simply too much to lose. The Watchers have told horror stories about those who stray in the hopes of a better future. Sometimes they end up with a life that’s worse. People who would have been CEOs end up homeless, on drugs, or dead at twenty-five. But part of me wonders how much of this is true. I think the Watchers have a different motivation to convince people to follow the Rules. The more people who opt out of their Rules, the less predictable society is, and the more dangerous it becomes. And the Watchers dislike danger.
My fingers brush against the pamphlet that I received in the mail yesterday. I have been using it as a page marker in this journal, but now I read it again. “Your Ceremony of Rules Experience: You have the chance to define the rest of your brilliant life with one action. Follow your Rules to follow your path to a good life!”
When my letter arrives, my path diverges. I will have to choose between inheriting a future and chasing a mystery. Am I ready?