By Sydney Shapiro
She scans the hologram for her name. Her eyes are dry and out of focus. Her dirty fingers glide by every name, hoping not to see her own. Three up from the bottom she sees her name, “Julie Pawper, age 17, legs.” Julie turns and see an older woman standing over her. The lady gently puts her arm on Julie’s shoulder, trying to be comforting. Her hand feels unnatural.“My hands were replaced when I was 19” the lady explains. “My arms end just before the wrist.” Julie feels a rush of pain in her veins. She picks up her bag and starts to head home.
Julie takes the long route home to clear her thoughts. The list fills her mind. Julie’s older brother Charlie was listed a year ago. He got bronchogenic carcinoma from a wealthy man named Richard Afflewent. Charlie can’t breathe on his own anymore so he uses a machine. She continues to walk while dragging her toes along the pavement.
Julie lugs herself to the door and turns the handle. She opens the door, her family is sitting in the living room crying. Everyone knows she’s been listed but no one can bring up the courage to say it out loud. Julie starts to walk to her bedroom without saying a word. Her room is small and can only fit a small mattress. She sees a hologram pocket sitting on her bed. My fingers glide around the floating note avoiding the button that opens it. She presses the bottom slowly, her heart beats faster. The image displayed has my name beside a picture of a boy in a wheelchair. She couldn’t help but scream while tears rush down her face and stain her cheeks. Julie wails into her hands over and over again. Her breath becomes short and heavy. Her eyes slowly shut and everything becomes quite for a moment. “My legs.” she whimpers.
Julie’s little brother Tommy walks into her room, plops himself onto the bed and looks her in the eyes. “Mom and dad said you’re listed, what is that?” His eyes open wide with curiosity. Julie explains “At age 17 children in the unworthy side of town are eligible to be listed. If a rich person has a disease, they can exchange their limbs or organs for ours.”
Tommy and Julie sit in silence for an hour glaring at the ceiling while holding hands. “If you are going to lose your legs, we should use them until the exchange” Tommy suggests.
If it were only that easy…