You hate this. You hate living like this where your every mood can be understood by everyone. You hate how your life is predicated based on your behaviors. You hate how every time you try expressing something new, the only reaction you get is something you’d expect. Something you would predict. You just want to be… unpredictable.
It all started a few years ago when scientists developed a tool where everyone’s behaviors could be predictable by someone else. Say your friend is talking about something, and they’re trying to hide how they’re really feeling about that topic. The person could tell how they’re really feeling. Now everyone can go walking through the streets and talk to a complete stranger, yet know exactly how they feel. Know exactly what they truly feel…
You hate it.
People walk up to you, asking why you’re so sad. Why your mind is so clouded that all you can think about is how much you hate that machine. Why your mind is so dark that you can’t think about happiness anymore. Strangers want you to vent your feelings to them, change your behavior to make the world a better place. All you want is to have your emotions, your behaviors are secret again. You don’t want a random person to walk up to you and ask, “Why so blue?” or, “Why so angry?”
The thing is, you can’t be happy. Your whole life is an unfortunate event. The rare event that you have a good day is overruled by the unfortunate consequences that you’ve been through. Losing Cora, your house, everything you’ve ever owned. Getting treated like trash as you walk through the long, endless hallways of the school buildings. The hands that reach out to you, only to get pulled away when they realize who you really were. Saying things like, “Oh, I thought you were someone else” and, “Not like I’d reach for you anyway.” Yet they always wonder why you’re so temperamental, so predictable, so… different than all the other people. Everyone is supposed to follow the rules and only use the tool when they were allowed, yet you can always seem to tell when the basic girls use it on you secretly during tests and as you pass by them in the hallway with the hoodie over your head and your head hung low. Being told to stay behind after class, yet being the first one to leave. Refuse to stay, attempt to leave, they follow your behavior. All you wanna do is be unpredictable.
It was a long day at school. Tests, tools prodding at your sides, basics giggling and whispering, thinking they're being quiet but they're not. Long endless hallways where you lose your stacks of homework and sometimes lose your phone that you’ve kept in your pocket to avoid the embarrassing texts from your adoptive parents. The skin biting breeze as you're forced to sit by the open window on an overly crowded bus that has no volume control. Mumbling the words to your favorite song as everyone is trying out their new and improved tool on each other. Continue your prayers on the way home as the breeze snaps at your cold, red cheeks. Reaching under the mat that you never wipe your feet on, feeling for the cold, metal key, hoping to make it inside before your fears catch up to you on the front step of the apartment. Wrapping your fingers around the metal key, reaching out to put it in the keyhole of the lock. Whatever you do, don’t turn around. Don’t look the other way as you walk into the house. You close the door behind you, hoping that it wouldn’t slam and awaken the family dog, whose behavior was one you didn't want to mess with. You set your black bag down by the shoe box, slipping off your navy blue and white checkered sneakers, making your way to the kitchen. Whatever you do, don’t make noise as you open the door on the refrigerator and reach for the small box of apple juice. Sitting at the kitchen table only to be greeted by a note placed at your chair.
“Went to the store. Don’t wake the dog. Dad will be back soon. Don’t eat all the M&M’s in the bowl” Love, Ashley.
Of course. She’s always predictable. She didn’t go to the store. She went on a walk just to get away from her stressful life. God, if you had only just packed your bag and went back to the CPS building. If only you could eat all the M&M’s in the bowl. If only you could just get rid of all the tools in the world. No more poking into your mind and affecting your behavior from calm to pissed in less than 30 seconds. Every muscle in your tenses as you hear the front door of the apartment begin to creak open. Her humming was out of tune, yet she always made it sound good as she came in, earbuds in her pierced ears and her lips mouthing every word of her song. All you could think was, “Has she ever used the tool on me before?” When she looked at you, the circular tool in her hand, all you could see was her face pale and her hand began to shake in a form of fear. She showed the screen of her tool, that's when you understood why she was so afraid.
Now, normally, when one uses the tool, it instantly exports a word that would describe the person's behavior. Happy, angry, sad, all the predictable behaviors and words that typically contrast each other.
Blank. No words. Nothing but a glitch in the system to display… nothing. It finally happened, everything you’ve wished for. You watch as she shakily points at the door, yet you know what she meant. It hadn’t been the first time she’s done this. You nodded and walked to get your shoes from the shoe box, only for your ears to be greeted by a deep, low growl of the Rottweiler sitting on the couch, flaring its teeth at you. All you can do is just keep your eyes focused on the laces of your shoes, yet your fingers quicken their pace. Grabbing your school bag, you open the apartment door and walk out, listening to the click-clack of the nails of the dog across the floor, it’s menacing growl approaching the other side of the door.
In due time, Ashley would call the police, telling them the situation. You’d be found, sent to laboratories to never see the light of the sun again as they experiment on how you're couldn’t be predicted by the tool. The tool that never failed before. The tool with 5 stars internationally. As you walk down the sidewalk through the apartment neighborhood, feet going left, right, left, right, left, stop. Listen. Muscles all freezing in place as you hear the distant sound of the police. That’s all you can do. You can’t run, you can’t hide, you can only freeze in place and hope that they don’t suspect you as you act like you're texting on your phone. Everything inside is dark and twisted, yet all you can hope is that you’re not the only one out there. Not the only one who wishes things were different. Sirens grow closer, prompting yourself to move, walk, speedwalk, run, sprint. Sprint toward the supermarket down the street where an ungodly amount of people would be, making it harder for them to find you. Run faster, they’re going to find you. Listening to the gasps as people look at you, then their tool, only to see that their tool has malfunctioned and only showed a glitched-out screen.
How many people have seen you now? 20? 50? Run faster. All you can do is go out the front door of the supermarket and hope that they aren’t waiting for you there. Left, right, left, right, left, right, quickened pace. Stop to wait for the automatic opening door to open, only to proceed sprinting out and into the sunlight and breeze. Down the sidewalk, sliding down the cold concrete into an empty canal, then sprinting under the bridge. Was this all worth it? To live your life running? To live constantly out of breath, yet to live with a new thrill in your body? What would Cora have thought? She would’ve said run… Besides, they took her for being unpredictable, why wouldn’t they take you as well?