My boots hit the floorboards as I run towards the hall, black hair flying in the corridor, face scrutinized at my watch. Just then, a wrinkly old hand grabs my arm, and I trip face first into the floor.
'You're late, stupid girl!' Truta barks at me, dragging me to my feet and pushing me forward so hard I almost trip. 'Get to the sermon, quickly girl!' She shouts behind me, and taking a deep breath, I sprint down the corridor to the hall.
I'm always late for everything and anything. I might as well be late to my own funeral.
Today, there's a big assembly, since all the 16-year-olds have to take their RQ test, but I don't why, 2 days ago a man from the government came to the orphanage and said to me I also have to take it, even though I'm 15, and if I don't, then there will be bad consequences. And also, all the staff are ensuring that I'm there, so if I'm not I'm in deep trouble.
I'd rather be a bingirl than dead.
When I do finally arrive at the assembly, a big brown hall with a stage and more than 30 people sitting down, I sit down on the nearest chair, with Macron giving me a look that says: Why are you late? I return the look that says: Just had to do a thing.
'Right, is everyone here?' A man says on the stage, with blonde hair and dressed in a white lab coat. 'Yes, I think everyone is. Right,' he takes a deep breath. 'Welcome everyone! Once this is finished, everyone will be separated into two groups and taken into two vehicles. And might I also say how splendidly smart you all look! I'm Dr Rick,' he flashes his white teeth, 'and I'll be assessing your particular group in a series of tests.
'These tests are called RQ tests, in which the test tests your ability to read and your intelligence. Fun fact: We also take a sample of your blood and scan you, just for safety purposes. Right, that's it from me! You will be separated into A and B, then on your way out, doctors will scan you and take a sample of your blood. Good luck!' And with that, there's a bubble of conversation, following men in black separating us into groups.
I get separated into group A, and taking a quick breath, eyeing the hall one last time, I move towards the door. A white coated man scans me, and when he looks at the screen, his eyes go a little wide. Then shaking his head, he takes a sample of my blood, gives me a cotton bud, and I move towards the black vehicle. When I get in the vehicle, I sit near the window, so I can watch nature bloom one last time.
It's finally summer then, I've been waiting all year for summer, just to finally run outside and feel the warm sun on my back. Not everything's been the same since Melrose died of Primary CNS Lymphoma. But going to hospital everyday and holding her hand silently while the tears run down has been enough. I've just got to move on. Of course, I'll never forget the time we used to go out in the middle of the night, or whenever I was sad she'd always cheer me up, or the fact that she's generally always been there for me, like a real friend.
'Mind if I sit?'
Macron is standing next to me, eyes like wildfire and blond hair wavy. His hands are in his hoodie pockets and his back is slightly bent. With a wave of my hand, he sits himself down.
'Thinking about Melrose?' He asks, hands shifting to his legs and settling himself down.
'No,' I sniff and wipe the single tear away from my cheek. I continue to look out the window, not daring to meet his eyes with mine. We sit the rest of the journey in silence. Macron is - was - Melrose's boyfriend, and to be honest, they did look like they loved each other a lot. I think it was just me, but yet again, it always is.
When we finally get to a big, grey, tall building, the men in black lead us out. Macron and I are in the same group, so we're both led into the lobby. Everyone is dressed in unusual white clothes, the same as Dr.Rick, but why are doctors assessing us?
When we sit down on grey chairs, we wait for the doctors to call us, and everyone is bubbling with conversation, probably nervous about the test.
'Are you nervous then?' Macron asks next to me, eyes locking with mine.
'Why would I be?' I breathe. 'You?'
'Nah.' He replies, taking a deep breath.
'Evelyn Keygaze?' Dr.Rick calls my name from room 7. I stand up, nodding at Macron, then walk towards the room. Dr.Rick's smile is broad and unwelcoming.
I was expecting to see a test paper with a pencil, but instead I'm greeted with a machine next to a black chair, in which Dr.Rick guides me to sit. I lie down, and Dr. Rick puts some wires and random things on me, connecting it to the machine.
'Nervous?' Dr.Rick asks while typing on the computer, glancing at me.
'No, just confused. What exactly do I have to do?' I ask him.
'Just close your eyes, and a series of letters and pictures will come up. Just tell me what you see and read, ok?'
'Ok...' I reply, taking a shaky breath. As I lie down and close my eyes, Dr.Rick places a device over my eyes, and an image comes up.
Wait...what is that? It looks like...a baby.
'Please! Don't take me away from her!' Mother weeps, clutching me in her arms, face full of tears.
'Ms.Evans, I an ordered by the OPIG to take you away for treason against your country. Please be cooperative with us as we take you and your child away.' The soldiers monotone voice echoes around.
'No!' Mother screams, huddling me close, whispering in my dark hair.
'Ember, I love you, they will change your name, they will change everything but who you are. The people on Temi Cove will surely look after you.' She whispers, tying a pendant around my neck, and kissing my forehead gently.