By Jiho Shin
My name is Jacklyn. I like otters. I do not like weird. Today was weird. I almost went over the Fence, and I had no idea what I was doing it for. After school, when I was feeding the chickens, I, in a daze, walked the entire 7 miles to the Fence and started to climb up the fence. I got about 15 feet up the barrier blocking us from going into the forest before I thought about what I was doing. After I got control of myself again, I managed to run away, but I think an Enforcer saw me. The farther I got away from the Fence, the harder it was to resist the urge to jump it. I’m in my room right now, and it’s well past midnight. I couldn’t fall asleep. I keep thinking about that boundary called the Fence. I know it’s been forbidden to cross the state boundary “for our own safety” since the 21st century, but, then again, our totalitarian government says that about a lot of things.
When I told Chloe about my wanting to jump, she, being the daredevil of a friend she is, said that she would “totally jump it with me.” She got really into the idea of passing the fence, saying that we would each need a backpack with rope, water, non-perishable food, a jacket, matches, and a first aid kit. Don’t ask me how I can remember all that.
“WAKE UP!” is the first thing I hear on Sunday morning. I immediately bolt upright in my bed. I’m surprised I actually fell asleep last night. “Why are you so tired? You never sleep like this.” My mom says.
“I couldn’t fall asleep last night,” I reply as vaguely as possible without seeming suspicious.
“Well, get up and feed the chickens. They’ve been clucking since 5!”
I do as my mom says and get up, feed the chickens, and collect the eggs. My mom’s name is Olivia, and she can be a very stubborn woman. One time, I came downstairs in the morning and my grandmother actually called me Olivia, we look so alike. After doing my chores, I go back inside and rush through my science homework. Summarize Weather, it says at the top. Seriously. We have to summarize weather for our homework. That totally makes complete sense. Who doesn’t know how to do that? Our science teacher is 19 and really incompetent.
By the time I finish, it’s almost noon. I decide to start packing my backpack of things that I will need once over the fence. I’ve been procrastinating as much as I can, since I know that this is an awful idea and am still hoping to decide against it, but it’s like someone else is controlling me. When my mind wants me to do one thing, I end up doing the opposite. For example, I wanted to finish my math homework yesterday, but I ended up lying on my bed and thinking about Fence that I’m about to illegally cross.
In the past few weeks, the urge to go over the fence has gotten stronger to the point that I know I’ll have to go over soon, or else I’ll explode. I go over the plan in my head again. In two minutes, it will be midnight. I’ll sneak downstairs, add more food to my backpack, and leave. Then, I’ll go to the well and get water. I’ll leave as quickly as possible, and walk, not run, to the fence. I don’t want to get tired. It will be 1 A.M. by then. I’ll climb the 35 feet of fence, and climb, not jump down. I’ll land on the very green, yet stiff-looking, overgrown grass, and go north for as long as I want, but I have to be climbing back over by 3 A.M. That way everyone will still be asleep when I get back in the house. There are so many things that could go wrong, but now I won’t be able to fall back asleep, so I decide to stick with it.
I start to go downstairs, skipping the creaky second step. I don’t want to think about what would happen if I got caught by my parents. I silently get out a granola bar and two dried apples. Most of the state has to eat second-hand, dried food, since the other states are rich enough to buy the fresh food. I cross my fingers and head out the door. I know that I live in the poorest state, but I’m still lucky enough to have enough food and water to live. Some people sleep on the dead grass and eat scraps from trash cans and have no jobs and starve daily and try to squeeze water out of plants because they have to.
I arrive at the well to find an Enforcer standing 50 feet away. He is dressed in a white bodysuit and armor. No wonder they’re so grumpy all the time. I would be, too, if I was walking around in 95-degree heat in metal. I guess Chloe has been rubbing off on me, because I go to the well anyway and get the water. I open the well as softly as I can and take my water bottle as quietly as I can, praying that the Enforcer doesn’t turn. I dunk my water bottle in the well, accidentally splashing water. Nice one, Jacklyn, I thought, you just can’t control yourself, can you! The Enforcer turns at the noise, and I quickly duck behind the well, letting the wall of the well cover me. The Enforcer starts to walk over at this totally-not-suspicious noise. Then, at the last moment possible, he gets a message on his walkie-talkie telling him that his shift ends. I owe that person who sent the message so much. The Enforcer would have tortured my entire family until we went insane if he had caught me. Once again, I wish that I was living in a richer state, like Power. The only reason that they’re so rich is that they give everyone else power, but no one needs animals anymore.
I quickly hurry over into the tall grass to stay hidden and start walking towards the Fence.
I arrive just before 1 A.M. There isn’t anyone there. I thought there would be tons of Enforcers guarding the state boundary. Crossing the boundary is supposed to be the worst crime you can commit, but I’m not complaining. The fewer people there are, the better.
Constantly looking over my shoulder, I start to climb. Looking behind won’t really do me any good, since I’m too high up to hide myself. Once I get 20 feet up, the wires start to become thinner and less study. Five more feet up, and I snap a wire. I keep going as quickly and lightly as I can, but I only get 7 feet higher before the top comes down on me and scrapes my forehead, narrowly missing my eye. I blindly flail in the wiry mess, finally getting free and falling at least 15 feet before I grab wildly at the fence, and stop falling abruptly. Not wanting to be seen, I scale the wires as fast as I can.
I land in the tall grass which, surprisingly, is very soft. I run as fast as I can in a random direction for at least 5 minutes before I realize that I can’t hear footsteps, so no one must be coming after me. I stop at a small stream. It is clear and clean looking, so, not wanting to use up the water in my water bottle, I kneel and take a sip of the water, only to find that it tastes like blood and metal.
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