The Enlightenment began six months, twenty-four days ago. And since then, nothing has been the same. It brought a system. A system of 11 numbers, from 10 to 0, measuring one’s Happiness, and displaying it for the entire world to see. The system was enforced in order to keep out all pain and negativity, because Happiness is mandatory on Earth. And when it began, hundreds of millions of people vanished, just like that. And they were banished to Nowhere, because they were lost and depressed and unable to stay. No one here knows what Nowhere is like, but I would imagine that it’s exactly what it sounds like: nowhere. And Earth, Earth is a paradise. Because everyone who’s left is happy, and free of pain. Right?
you hear a knock on the door. you check your watch and realize that you’re late, and leave your cereal on your desk, take your backpack, and run to the door. when you open it, you’re met with quite a distraught face. “come on Light, it’s time to go.”
Snow says. you glance at the glowing “2” above her head, and then catch yourself. but she notices, and only sighs and takes your hand and drags you along the walk. you tell Snow that you’re worried about her, and that you’re always there if she needs anything. she only says “i’m just a bit tired today, is all.”
but you won’t have this today, because that statement is almost never true and it’s your responsibility to protect her. so you stop walking, and sharply ask her to tell you what’s wrong. “nothing’s wrong, i’m just tired.” she repeats.
your voice quivers as you ask her to let you help, and you see tears begin to form in her eyes. she looks up at the number above your head, and says through her tears, “please… please don’t worry about me.” you stare deeply into her light blue eyes, and tell her that this isn’t possible.
you hear a child whispering a few steps away. his parents glance at you and Snow, and quickly proceed to cover his eyes. then Snow turns away, and starts walking again, and much faster. you run forward and grab her hand, and she pulls away. “leave me alone”, she cries.
so you stop, and you turn around, and stand there for another minute, even though you’re already late.
when you turn around again, Snow is out of sight, and you start walking to the school.
you arrive at class 15 minutes late and everyone makes sure to keep their heads down as you walk through the door, even mrs. summers. it’s as though you’re invisible. and you don’t want to be invisible; you just want to be understood. but they won’t understand that, so it’s okay. you can tell that this day won’t be difficult from any other, and that’s okay too. because after six months and twenty-four days you get used to it.
after school, you wait for Snow by her locker. number 210. you think that this is an interesting number. it’s strange how the world works.
it takes 10 minutes after class before you begin to worry.
you reach for your pocket before you realize that you left it at home in a rush. so you decide to go to her last period class, geometry. you ask mr. anderson when he last saw Snow. “she didn’t show up to class today.” he mumbles, not looking up from his desk. you begin to hear your heartbeat ringing in your ears. you run to her 8th period class, history. “she wasn’t at class today”, she says. biology. “i don’t think i saw Snow”. english. “i haven’t seen her today.”
your eyes start to swell, your mind consumed with the thought that something has happened, and it’s all your fault. you run, faster than you ever have, your sore legs throbbing under the weight of your backpack. you know you should take it off, but everything's so blurry and all you can think about is Snow.
you reach her house 10 minutes later, and start pounding on the white door. you shout for her, and receive no response. you try to open the door yourself, and, surprisingly, it swings open. the house was empty. you look down at the floor, and see her school books scattered across it.
you collapse on the cold floor, uncontrollably sobbing. you continue calling her name, though deep down, you know that there’s no point.
you hate it here. because they’re afraid of you, and they pretend not to notice. they pretend not to notice the glowing “1” above your head. they pretend not to notice that you’re hanging off the edge of a cliff, your hand wrapped around a thinning branch. and the only person who didn’t was the person you were trying to save.
you realize that hiding it all was so much easier, no matter how painful it was. because you could pretend to be strong. you could pretend to be happy. you could pretend to be yourself, whoever that is.
you pretend to be strong anymore, and you have no reason to without Snow.
you decide that you’ll give up. and you close your eyes, because giving up is the last step to letting go.
you open your eyes, and see an empty white space, and Snow standing right there beside you.
to be continued...