So, I wrote a short story for uni last year that I haven’t yet shared with you. I got a fairly good grade on it (I can’t remember the number, but it was better than the previous one) so I thought I’d jazz it up a bit and put it out there for all to read (and hopefully enjoy).
I moved into Hudson’s house over the course of a month. I didn’t have to take many things with me, because he had furniture already.
We sat down on his grey leather couch in his – our – living room once we finished unpacking and putting my stuff throughout the house, each with a plate of leftover strawberry and cream surprise birthday cake sat on our laps. I could almost hear Mum’s laughter as we found the surprise: chocolates in the centre, tumbling out all over the plate. I really miss her sometimes. I wish I could go home. I miss my bed. I miss seeing Mum and Dad every day. I miss home. But I have this new home with Hudson, I should be happy. I trust the system; they’ve never been wrong before, so I should have nothing to worry about.
While finishing off our cake, we sat in silence, the spoons scraping our plates the only sound. Occasionally, one of us tried to start a conversation, but trailed off back into silence. I kept my eyes on my plate, not daring to look at him and make this situation more awkward than it already was. How did we end up as a Perfect Pairing? This isn’t going well at all.
He finished his cake and put his empty plate on the coffee table, leaned back on the couch, resting his feet on the coffee table and his hands behind his head. He let out a sigh and I looked at him, and immediately wished I hadn’t. Even with the discomfort of the situation, his eyes were still as green and alluring as they were when I met him a month ago. I found myself getting lost in them, but shook myself out of it.
“I’m not very good at this. I’ve never been in a relationship before,” I said to him, breaking the silence. I looked back into my lap in shame.
“Hey,” he said, placing a hand on my shoulder. “It’s okay. We can learn together.”
I felt the corners of my mouth quirk upwards slightly, “You think so?”
He looked into my eyes and I felt like he was staring into my soul. He leaned closer to me and rested his hand on the small of my back. I’d never noticed how freckles dotted his nose and cheeks, or how he began to close his eyes, or how I closed mine, too.
The sound of my phone ringing made me pull back from him and open my eyes. Hudson looked at my still ringing phone with disgust, as did I. I picked it up, feeling slightly frustrated as I pressed the speaker to my ear.
“Hello?” I asked.
“Yes, hello, is this Ebony Wolfe?” a calm female voice asked.
“Yeah, that’s me.”
“There has been a mistake with your file. We paired you with the wrong person,” she explained. My mouth fell open. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
“B-but you always get it right,” I replied, my voice shaking. “Always.”
“Not this time. You must come to the Pairing Centre immediately, so we can issue you your correct file.”
“And if I don’t?”
“You will be arrested.”
“Oh-okay, I’ll be there as soon as I can,” I said before immediately hanging up. I ran to my bedside table and yanked open the drawer that I kept Hudson’s file in. All his details were printed at the top of the page, his picture attached below it.
Name: Hudson James Wolfe
Date of birth: 25th April 2074
Height: 177 cm
Hair colour: Brown
Eye colour: Green
Skin tone: Fair
ID No: 742811
How could the Pairing Centre be wrong? They’re never wrong. No one in living memory had ever been re-paired before. Mum and Dad’s was correct. I don’t know much about Hudson’s parents, but I assume theirs was correct as well. We were the first mistake. The first mistake since the Pairing Centre was set up. Since the war. 75 years ago.
“You’re not actually going, are you?” Hudson asked after I filled him in on what was happening. I was sitting on my side of the bed, staring at Hudson’s file clutched in my hands.
“Of course, I am. The Pairing Centre works,” I said, not taking my eyes off the file. If I looked at him, I’d change my mind. I couldn’t let that happen.
“No, it doesn’t. They made a mistake with us. Do you know what they do with mistakes?” he said, sitting down next to me on the bed, his voice raised in fear and desperation.
“No, but I have to go. I don’t wanna get arrested, or worse,” I replied, beginning to stand up. I needed to leave.
He grabbed both of my arms, forcing me to sit back down and look at him, “W-what about us? What about learning together?” he asked, his words catching in his throat.
“I care about you, okay? But I can’t get arrested,” I said, resting my head on his shoulder and taking a deep breath, then I lifted myself back up and looked him in the eyes. “It won’t work out. The woman said so.”
“Fine,” he huffed, almost in tears, releasing my arms. “Go.”
The drive to the Pairing Centre was agonising. I found myself trying to rationalise it all. He can’t be the one. The Centre said so. Then why was this hurting so much?
The Pairing Centre was as dreary and mind-numbing as I remembered it. The line of people stretched back to the door and was moving at a snail’s pace. When I finally got to the front of the line, I told the woman my name and handed her my ID card.
“Ah, yes, Mrs Wolfe, right this way,” the woman said, ushering me down the hall to a door marked Error Correction Office.
“Now sit and wait here, miss, I must retrieve the file,” she said, seating me in the wooden, blue cushioned chair facing the plain, white desk laden with files and a computer in the centre. I sat with a hopeful smile on my face. It will work this time. It will. A couple of minutes passed, and the woman returned with a new file and a syringe filled with a clear liquid.
“This might hurt a bit,” she said, placing the file on the desk and picking up the syringe. I squinted to read the label on the syringe. Memory Modification Serum. I jerked my arm away from her and stood up from my chair.
“Why would you have a whole office devoted to errors if I was your first one? That’s how you have a perfect record. No one remembers your mistakes,” I accused, crossing my arms. The woman opened her mouth to reply, but no words came.
No one’s marriage was correct. No one knew of the Centre’s corruption. Of the government’s corruption. No one except me. I have to get out of here. They’ll be after me. What will they do to my family? To Hudson? To me? People have to learn the truth. Things have to change.
I sprinted for the door, pulled it open and let it slam against the wall on my way out. The woman slammed a red button on the wall. They’re coming for me. I flew out the front doors to the car, running as fast as my legs would carry me. I wrenched the door open and shoved the keys into the ignition. I sped all the way home, paying no mind to the speed limits. I wrenched opened the front door of our house.
“Hudson!” I yelled as I got inside. “They’re after me. Come quick!”
“Where are we going?” he asked, breathless, as he sat down in the car.
“I don’t know. Away from here. Where no one can find us. Somewhere safe,” I answered as I sped down the road. The sirens rang in my ears and the blue and red lights danced around the car with a blistering fury. My hands gripped the wheel tighter than I had ever gripped it before, my foot pressed the accelerator pedal into the floor and tears threatened to stream down my face.
“But they’re everywhere. They can always see us. Always.”
“We’ll just have to keep running then.”
We drove and drove until the car whined and trembled with exhaustion, completely out of fuel. I pulled the car over to the side of the road, next to a sprawling wheat farm. We lost the police a while ago and the stars dotted the sky with a glistening light. Even out here, in the middle of nowhere, I still had the unnerving feeling of being watched.
“What now?” I asked. We were leaning on the side of the car, staring out into the night, into the wheat farm we’d been stranded next to. The only light came from the stars in the sky and one flickering lamppost on the other side of the road.
“I don’t know. We could walk, but we don’t have food so…”
“What’s going to happen to my family? How do we save them?” I thought out loud. Those questions rocketed around my mind like a swarm of angry bees.
“That’s something we’ll have to work out later. We have to focus on us right now.”
“You mean that?” I replied, turning to face him, his eyes sparkling in the starlight.
“Yeah, I do,” he said, leaning towards me and closing his eyes. He’s going to kiss me. Oh my God. Am I ready?
Too late. His lips were on mine before I could make up my mind. I felt my heart race inside my chest and I kissed back, which surprised me. I rested my hands on his chest and stood on my tippy toes to reach him better. Then he pulled back – all too soon in my opinion – and rested his forehead against mine, looking deeply into my eyes, and I into his.
“So, you’ll stay with me?” he said in a hushed tone.
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed it.
Love, Nicky x